5 minutes with a Physio … Nicoleta Popa

Nicoleta has been a physio for ten years; she works for Teladoc Health 5 days a week.

Nicoleta talks to us about her thoughts on the virtual physio service, what patients can expect, and some top tips for achieving healthier physical wellbeing.

What happens during a virtual physio consultation?

A thorough conversation about the patient’s problems, how they are impacting them, how they are coping, and their goals, followed by specific clinical questions, specific movements, and tasks to ascertain the likely cause of the problem and formulate an action plan to address the patient’s problem. We explain the working diagnosis, the patient then has ample time to ask any questions, and we clarify any concerns the patient may have. Where the problem is suitable for us to manage virtually, we advise on how to manage and try together the exercises we prescribe as a home workout.. We then agree and rebook them to follow their progress as necessary.

What do you like most about TDH’s approach? How is the service different from other physio services available?
  • The ease of booking through their app and great availability to book at any point in their day without having to travel, being in the comfort of their own environment and safe place, empowering them regarding self-management and setting goals that are attainable and meaningful to patients.
  • A variety of clinicians with extensive clinical expertise are up to date with the most recent research in their field of practice, which patients can choose to book by reading their profile before booking.
  • At Teladoc, Physiotherapists adopt a person-centred care approach when assessing a patient, agreeing together about the desired health and well-being outcomes. We can directly signpost patients to a GP/Nutritionist/ Mental Health colleague for further support.
  • Our service gives patients ample appointment time; there is always enough time to deliver a great experience.
Can you share some recent anonymous examples of how you have helped patients coming into the service?

I recently had a patient complaining about chronic lower back pain. Through history taking, we’ve identified that the patient was also having other lifestyle factors such as poor sleep and stress, that he was overwhelmed mentally from changing jobs twice in ten months, struggling to sleep due to pain and worrying thoughts and that he lost weight over this period.

We agreed to address his symptoms with a multidisciplinary approach by signposting him to his Doctor to rule out any medical cause for his weight loss and to our Mental Health team so he can learn how to cope better with his new job challenge and improve his sleep. We’ve also discussed the benefits of exercise for his symptoms and how Physiotherapists can help with the other professionals in our Teladoc Team once any medical causes for his recent weight loss have been ruled out.

Especially good examples would be where you have also referred a patient for additional support from another Teladoc Health service, such as GP or mental health.

What advice would you give a patient who thinks of using the service but is unsure?

Our service is a two-way conversation. Together, we can discuss your problem and help you make an informed decision about it. At the end of our appointment, you will have an appropriate action plan according to your needs and preferences. If the presentation is not suitable for us to treat remotely, we can refer you to the most appropriate service.

What do you most enjoy about working for Teladoc Health?

I value that we can give patients prompt appointments when they need them the most. I love our seamless, integrated system that makes our work so easy to deliver a great virtual experience to our patients, allowing our team to focus on what matters most – delivering great care!

Can you describe a typical working day (or week) at Teladoc Health? What types of symptoms present the most?

A typical working day starts with a friendly good morning from all our team members to ensure we are all set, that everything is working fine and that we are ready to start a great day. We always have the opportunity to ask any questions on our Teams channels, and we keep in touch throughout the day for any support we need and give feedback where necessary.

Our working diary consists of triaging patients before their physiotherapy sessions if there are any initial concerns regarding suitability, delivering physiotherapy appointments, and conducting in-service training/webinars on different clinical and lifestyle topics or projects we may be involved in.

Most people present with musculoskeletal ailments related to lifestyle or overuse injuries. Lower back is the most common complaint.

What is the professional achievement you’re most proud of?

The knowledge I’ve acquired over the last three years regarding digital Physiotherapy services and my flexibility to adapt personally and professionally during periods of uncertainty such as the pandemic.

What do you like doing to relax and take care of your well-being?

I’m a new auntie, and I love spending time with my nine-month-old nephew and Persian cat. I also love baking cakes and listening to audible books (which can be done at the same time, too!)

How do you sustain your physical well-being?

I love sunny walks ( nature/river/ beach walks when possible) or lifting weights for physical well-being.

I am looking to plan some trail walks this summer.

What are your typical breakfast and go-to snacks?

Breakfast: Greek yogurt, Weetabix, Goji berries, and chia seeds.

Snacks: healthy—apple with nuts or peanut butter, hummus with cucumber sticks; cravings: salted crackers/cheese snacks.

What are your top 5 tips for people seeking a healthier lifestyle?
  1. Prioritize water intake and sleep/address stress where necessary before anything else.
  2. Start small and change one thing at a time.
  3. Build a healthy habit and try to stick to it for at least two months so that it becomes a natural routine for you.
  4. Don’t compare yourself to others. Rather, reflect on your journey and the milestones achieved.
  5. Be patient with yourself and practice gratitude at least once a week.

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