We are living in unprecedented times. As a result, all of us, SLPs included, have had to revamp our way life and our way of working. Most non-hospital or SNF based SLPs (if not all) are using teletherapy to provide services. Some of you know that Duncan Lake Speech Therapy was in the process of rolling out a teletherapy arm of the practice. COVID-19 just went right ahead and sped that process way up!
People have been a bit hesitant to try it out, so I’m going to give you the run down of some teletherapy FAQs!
What is teletherapy?
Teletherapy, or telehealth, is therapy completed virtually, either over a video conferencing platform or telephone. While many disciplines use this model, I’m going to be speaking only about speech-language therapy. Services are provided in much the same way as they would be in-person, though the techniques will probably look a bit different. I still work on my 100 articulation trials with my kiddos and do a lot of the activities that they’re used to!
What does teletherapy entail?
Did you happen to see our video with Courtney from Building Blocks Speech Services? If you didn’t, take a peek! We take you on a bit of a journey of house our teletherapy platforms function. Each system is different. Here at Duncan Lake Speech Therapy, we use a platform called Blink Session. Blink Session functions on many devices, but for the full experience, a computer is recommended. Sessions involve interactive activities either on the platform or other websites. Of course, how a session runs depends on what you’re doing. The little ones (early intervention) might have less time face-to-face with the provider, while their parents receive a lot of coaching information. The opposite might be true of older kids and, of course, adults.
Does it work?
Short answer: YES.
The SLP governing body, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, supports telepractice. ASHA is committed to bringing effective services to all people who made need it. As a result, they are supportive of teletherapy.
There are actually quite a few studies on the efficacy of teletherapy across the SLP spectrum. I’m going to link you to a list right here. I’d like to highlight one study in particular. I love a good meta-analysis. I feel like it saves me a lot of time in reading a million studies and sums things up nicely for me (is that bad?). A study published in 2017 titled, “The Efficacy of Telehealth-Delivered Speech and Language Intervention for Primary School-Age Children: A Systematic Review,” determined that, after reviewing hundreds of studies, the researchers determined:
…telehealth is a promising service delivery method for delivering speech and language intervention services to this population. This alternative service delivery model has the potential to improve access to SLP services for children living in geographically remote areas, reducing travel time and alleviating the detrimental effects of communication difficulties on education, social participation and employment.
How do I know this is right for me or my child?
This is a good question. As it turns out, most people are appropriate for teletherapy speech services. A lot of factors need to be taken into consideration and accommodated for, however. This might mean that a facilitator needs to sit with the client (a parent or adult) or sessions need to be shorter, or a highly predictable schedule needs to be put in place. Talk with your SLP about your concerns, and there is likely a way to troubleshoot any difficulties that may arise.
What about insurance?
Oh, insurance. Well, this is tricky. First and foremost, Duncan Lake Speech Therapy does not take insurance. I probably need to do a separate post on this.
In short, it varies as to whether or not insurance companies will cover this service. It varies based on the company and its varies based on the state. Because of our predicament right now, it’s difficult to ascertain a direct answer from many insurances. You might want to call and find out. Approval of services changes day-to-day because of the rapidly changing world.
Can I see any SLP I want?
Well, yes and no. You’re always free to find an SLP that works for you. However, to treat someone via teletherapy, the SLP needs to be licensed in both the state where they sit and the state where the client sits. While there are some exceptions to this rule right now due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most of the time, this is the case. Duncan Lake Speech Therapy is licensed to provide teletherapy services in the state of Michigan and the state of Florida.
If you are interested in seeking teletherapy services, do not hesitate to contact us! If you have any questions, your friendly, neighborhood SLP is always here to answer them.