What is Virtual Physiotherapy?

Virtual physiotherapy, also known as virtual care or tele-rehabilitation, is when physiotherapy services are delivered from a distance using telecommunication or videoconferencing technology.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care has encouraged health care providers, including physiotherapists, to offer virtual care in certain circumstances to help minimize exposure to the virus.

Consider virtual care as an option if:

  • You are at increased risk complications should you contract COVID-19
  • You are not feeling well (for example you have cold symptoms) but would still like to complete a physiotherapy session
  • You live in a remote community where access to services may be limited
  • Other circumstances impact your ability to attend an in-person appointment

Even beyond the pandemic, there are benefits to virtual care and some patients may choose to continue with virtual care or tele-practice. Many patients are enthusiastic about the benefits of virtual care (for example there is no travel time or there is improved access for remote communities) but may not know where to start or may have questions about things like technology or privacy.

Your PT Will Continue to Follow the Rules & Standards of Practice

The most important thing to note is: your physiotherapist must follow the same rules when providing virtual care as they would if they were treating you in person. These rules are also known as “standards” and help ensure every patient receives safe, competent and ethical physiotherapy care virtually or otherwise.

The rules and standards cover everything from privacy requirements, to fees and billing, to keeping and providing patient health records. When used properly, virtual care is safe and effective in helping you reach your physiotherapy goals.

Here is what you can expect from your PT before and during a virtual appointment:

  • Your PT will use their professional judgement to decide if virtual care is an option for you.
  • Your PT will ensure that virtual care does not expose you to greater risk than other delivery methods such as in-person.
  • Your PT will get valid, informed consent from you to deliver care virtually. They cannot decide to provide care virtually without your consent.
  • Your PT will communication clearly while delivering virtual care and will manage additional technology considerations and try to troubleshoot technology issues. Your PT will provide you with instructions before your virtual appointment.
  • When selecting a technology platform, your PT will be certain that your personal health information is protected.
  • Your PT will have a plan in place, should you experience an emergency during a virtual physiotherapy session.
  • Your PT will have liability insurance that covers virtual care.
  • Your PT will provide an invoice that is clear and notes that your session was provided virtually. Your patient chart will also indicate when care was provided virtually.

Here are some tips to help prepare for a virtual physiotherapy appointment:

  • Carefully review the instructions provided by your PT before your appointment. You may need to download an app or software. There may be some paperwork that you are asked to complete before your appointment.
  • Make sure you have all the equipment you need including a laptop, tablet or smartphone, a good internet connection and headphones. Be sure to test your audio and camera before your session to make sure everything is working.
  • Find a quiet space with few distractions and good lighting – you and your PT should be able to see and hear each other clearly.
  • You may need to wait on the line for your PT to join the appointment – this is normal.
  • Come prepared with details about your health history and any questions you might have for your PT. Open communication is important and will help your physiotherapist understand your needs and goals.
  • Consider having a partner, caregiver or trusted family member or friend join your appointment. They can help with technology, raise concerns that might be missed or even take notes for you.
  • If you have concerns or questions during or after your appointment, don’t be afraid to ask your physiotherapist. It’s important that you get the most out of your virtual appointment.

Checklist for Use of Virtual Care for Patients

Ontario Health has a checklist for use of virtual care with patients. Your physiotherapist may use this checklist or something similar to help plan, assess and deliver your virtual care. You can also use this checklist to help prepare for your virtual physiotherapy appointment or to help determine if virtual care is an appropriate option for you.

Download Checklist

smartphone and question bubble

Questions about Virtual Physiotherapy? 

Contact the Patient and Caregiver Help Team at 
1-800-583-5885 (extension 241) or email