Clinics of all types have had to make significant adjustments to therapy since the onset of COVID, forcing many to abruptly transition to teletherapy only models for at least the short term.
It now seems that the new normal is to never know when the next time we might have a stay at home order forcing therapists to yet again do extensive teletherapy, regardless of whether it is their preference or not. It also applies across professions- whether your clinic has occupational therapists, speech-language pathologists, psychologists or even physical therapists.
There has never been a time of such rapid change across all areas of therapy this way, and there is much less certainty surrounding the constant ability to perform ‘business as usual’ with in-person services.
This is one reason it is so important to ensure your clinic and therapists are ready for teletherapy.
Teletherapy is also known as telepractice, online therapy, e-therapy, or video therapy, it is recognized as an effective way to provide therapy services by prominent organizations, including the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), and the American Psychological Association (APA).
It is also recognized by these organizations that it can be just as effective as in-person therapy, and that is the standard it should be held to.
A Board Certified Telepractice Certification can help to ensure practitioners of all types are ready to deliver on that promise.
There are several ways to incorporate teletherapy into the healthcare clinic setting and platforms, such as wecounsel.com and doxy.me, make it simple for clinicians to engage with their clients via videoconferencing software. Typically, all that is needed to get started is a laptop, computer, or tablet with a webcam, the appropriate software (HIPAA compliant), online materials, and a reliable internet connection. It will also be necessary to ensure the client has a laptop, computer or tablet with a webcam and in some cases they may need a an extra michrophone.
Teletherapy for Healthcare Clinics of All Types
Implementing teletherapy in healthcare clinics can have a positive impact on therapist and their clients, regardless of whether they are a occupational therapist (OT), speech-language pathologist (SLP), physical therapist (PT), Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) or mental health practitioner such as a psychologist, psychiatrist or mental health counselor.
With the exception of physical therapists, most therapists will be able to do most things they can do in person online. In some cases they may have to use a facilitator who is on-site to be able to effectively use certain techniques, but learning to properly use a facilitator is an important part of the learning process for effectively using teletherapy.
Therapists have the ability to schedule and conduct therapy sessions, communicate with parents, staff, clients, and facilitators, conduct assessments and complete reports, write and update IEPs, case manage, attend meetings, and track client progress – all from the comfort of their home or office space.
Stay Ahead of the Curve
Currently, teletherapy is a popular method used by therapists when it comes to language and articulation, but it can also be incredibly effective in treating diagnoses such as aphasia, voice, and cognition. By implementing teletherapy within your healthcare clinic, you will stay ahead of the curve and have the ability to deliver high-quality treatment to clients who are seeking convenience and reliability.
8 Reasons Why Teletherapy Should be Incorporated into Your Healthcare Clinic Immediately
1. Equally as Effective as Traditional Therapy
Studies have shown that teletherapy is equally as effective as traditional therapy methods. In some cases, especially when working with children, teletherapy can produce even better results as some individuals feel more comfortable, motivated, and excited interacting with and through technology rather than face-to-face.
Teletherapy sessions are conducted very similarly to in-person sessions. They are scheduled at appropriate times of the day for both the client and therapist and both parties are able to interact in real-time. The use of technology also creates opportunities for the client to access interactive materials that they might not typically use in a traditional setting, such as games, videos, and books that are read aloud.
As long as both parties are comfortable interacting virtually, the effectiveness of therapy sessions shouldn’t be disrupted and may even be enhanced.
2. Low Overheads
Teletherapy is a great solution for healthcare clinics that are looking to reduce their overhead costs. Therapists who conduct teletherapy sessions are able to do this from any location. This allows healthcare clinics to cut down on office expenses and other financial costs with fewer clinicians in the physical space.
Having teletherapy as an available option to clients also allows healthcare clinics to potentially employ more clinicians, meaning more caseloads and revenue, without having to expand their office space if they are willing to have clinicians work from home. This can significantly reduce overhead financial costs while ramping up client acquisition and revenue.
3. Expand Client Reach
Currently, teletherapy allows for expanding client reach within the states that a therapist is licensed in, but things are quickly changing in this area. If ASHA is successful in enabling therapists to practice across state lines this will both greatly increase the amount of clients available as well as greatly increase potential competition for all clients. While ASHA is particularly active in this area, AOTA or APA may have their own changes as well. So while many therapy clinics may not think teletherapy is necessary right now because they have a full practice, if they are slow to adopt they could get left behind when big changes take place.
Not only does this innovative method enable individuals with disabilities, financial challenges, and transportation struggles to receive care, but it also offers a major bonus that is ease and convenience.
Many people seeking speech-language therapy will choose convenience when deciding on a healthcare provider due to busy schedules and lack of time. If an individual can receive comparable treatment virtually that cuts out travel time and enables them to access their therapist from home, work, school, or wherever else they may be, this is likely the option they will choose.
By establishing teletherapy in your healthcare clinic you can connect with clients regardless of their physical location and by providing more people with a convenient method of care, you will differentiate yourself from other competition.
4. Opportunities to Specialize
Due to the flexible nature of teletherapy, clinicians can work with clients who may not reside in their local area. This offers the opportunity to engage with populations that your healthcare clinic might not normally have access to. This includes gaining access to clients in remote schools or areas, the prison service, individuals who are hospitalized or have difficulty traveling.
Through this process your clinic will not only expand its reach, but can also reach a much larger section of the population that might have very specific needs that your clinic has increased specialization for, such as a specialization in autism.
5. Many Prefer Teletherapy Leading to High Engagement
A common misconception when it comes to teletherapy is that clients won’t be as engaged due to interacting through a screen.
Tracy Stippl, an SLP, clinical supervisor for Advanced Travel Therapy, and a member of the Coordinating Committee of ASHA Special Interest Group 18, Telepractice, shared similar messages to many other therapists:
“Students are very comfortable with technology. My current clients exhibit less difficulty staying on-task than those I worked with onsite.”
It was also found in a literature review of behavioral and mental health teletherapy research that children in particular are very fond of teletherapy methods with 94 percent of them reporting that they liked the system. High schoolers also reported that teletherapy gave them a sense of privacy and safety compared to in-person sessions.
For healthcare clinics that regularly provide care for children and teens, this is important to keep in mind as offering teletherapy could actually encourage more individuals in these populations to engage in speech-language therapy.
6. Minimal Special Equipment Necessary
While there are specific platforms specializing in teletherapy that make the process simple and keep information organized, no fancy equipment is needed, making teletherapy an accessible and realistic way to connect with clients. Often when practitioners choose to get an extra piece of equipment it will be a microphone (especially for speech-language pathologists) to ensure all of their messages are coming across clearly and they’re able to hear their patients properly.
While there are plenty of ins and outs to doing teletherapy effectively and maintaining the same outcomes with teletherapy as during in-person therapy, these can all be learned by a therapist with some familiarity to technology and the ability to learn.
Our Board Certified Telepractice Certification goes over all the fundamentals and helps to give direction in 10 different critical areas to ensure that therapists can have all the background they need so they can focus on giving their therapy.
7. Protect Clinicians and Clients From Risk of Illness
The health and safety of both clinicians and clients is always a priority for healthcare clinics. Especially in the age of COVID-19, we are hyper-aware of how quickly illness and disease can spread and the detrimental consequences.
Teletherapy is an efficient way to protect clinicians and clients from getting sick and spreading disease. Both parties are able to remain at home and still participate in sessions, whether they are feeling slightly under the weather or are bed-ridden. A bonus is that this also reduces no-shows and last-minute cancellations, saving time and money.
8. Reduce Case Overload For Under-Staffed Clinics
Understaffed clinics often face the challenge of combating high caseloads. Introducing a partial teletherapy model into under-staffed clinics can be an effective way to address this issue. Virtual sessions give clinicians the flexibility to interact with their clients without having to be on-site. This typically allows clinicians to offer more time slots to clients, making them more accessible.
Teletherapy gives healthcare clinics that are under-staffed the chance to distribute clients more evenly among clinicians who are working on-site and those who are working remotely.
Is Teletherapy Necessary?
Clinics that are incorporating teletherapy into their current business model are at a significant advantage. As the healthcare system relies more and more on technology, those that choose not to adapt will fall behind especially as the landscape for teletherapy changes and it becomes more widely accepted.
Stay Relevant to Your Customer Base
Teletherapy is an efficient method that enables therapists to connect with clients no matter where they are located. This effective method of treatment is something that individuals seeking speech-language therapy will not ignore, especially when choosing between the convenience of teletherapy versus traditional methods that require travel, higher costs, lack of privacy, and a bigger time investment.
In a world where time is our most valuable resource and the only one we will never get back once it’s spent, individuals are constantly pursuing options that allow them to save time. For healthcare clinics that want to remain relevant by offering high-quality care via leading technology, teletherapy is essential. This method benefits your bottom line, your staff, and your customers while positioning your clinic as a leader in healthcare technology.
Getting started with teletherapy is fairly simple and the small investment of time and resources to put this virtual model into practice is well worth it.
Don’t miss this important opportunity to not only connect with clients from anywhere, but to also transform your healthcare clinic’s business model into one that is flexible, relevant, and ready to succeed in our technology-based future.
Learn More About Telepractice Certification