When fitness, healthcare and technology collide
Not a fan of your GP’s waiting room? You’re not alone, the magazines are wildly outdated and undoubtedly a hotbed for every illness that ever sneezed, coughed and spluttered its way into the building since 1995.
And how about a face-to-face session with a personal trainer? At 5.30am? In a park? When it’s raining? No… not keen?
Then I have some good news. Our digital, healthcare and fitness worlds are colliding and their love child is here to make your life a whole lot easier. We spoke to Karen Finnin, from Online Physio (Australia’s first ever online physiotherapy practice) and Strength and Conditioning Coach and Exercise Physiologist William Alexander (Encompass Exercise Physiology) about what the future holds for the digital healthcare and fitness scene.
Technology has made fitness both affordable and accessible – whether you’re in outback Northern Territory or avoiding peak hour in Sydney, digital personal training sessions mean people can get their sweat on anywhere, anytime.
“Offering digital consultations means I can share my expertise with broader audiences and stay in touch with elite athletes around Australia, and even the world,” says Alexander.
Prefer to march to the beat of your own drum? The age of fitness apps is here and there’s a tonne to choose from – if you haven’t heard of Kayla Istines’ Sweat app, it’s almost certain you’ve been living under a rock. But others such as Keep it Cleaner, Yoga Studio, Run Keeper and Couch to 5k are also given two thumbs up from Alexander.
“Fitness apps can be a fantastic way to keep you inspired, motivated and accountable, but make sure the one you choose has industry-recognised qualifications,” he says.
So digital fitness is a goer. But what’s the lay of the land when it comes to online health consultations?
“While they’re not yet considered mainstream, they’re rapidly gaining popularity and are predicted to grow dramatically within the next five years,” says Finnin, who is also a member of the Australian Physiotherapy Association.
“Medicare has already developed rebates for certain online medical consultations and you’ll soon be able to use your private health insurance extras for online allied health consultations too.”
According to Finnin, telehealth – the use of technology to receive an online consultation with a qualified health professional – is the one to watch.
“Psychologists were one of the first to take their consultations online, but doctors are now using telehealth to consult with specialists while their patient is in their rooms, and online speech pathology is gaining momentum too,” she says.
So what about the time you tore cartilage in your knee during the netball final of 2015… no doubt you were a fierce goal keeper, but how can a physio treat an injury if they’re not in the same room for hands-on treatment? Finnin has the answer.
“In many cases the hands-on component of injury management is a much smaller part of the recovery process than people think. A thorough assessment, diagnosis, and exercise program are key and if we feel the injury isn’t suitable for online consultation, we won’t hesitate to guide you to a more suitable service.”