Some speech pathologists and clients think telehealth delivery is a second-rate service that peaked during COVID lockdowns.
We need to rethink this idea. When done well, telehealth can improve care and make speech pathology more equitable, accessible and efficient.
- We can help more clients, including people in under-served regional, rural and remote communities; people without access to transport, carers or childcare; people with work commitments that prevent physical appointments; and people who simply prefer telehealth for its convenience.
- We can increase client access to experienced speech pathologists, e.g. to support clients with less common or additional challenges.
- Telehealth removes travel time, which helps not only those who live a long way away, but also clients that live in areas prone to traffic jams and parking shortages.
- We can improve staff safety and reduce cancelled appointments, e.g. when clients or family members have mild illnesses, which would expose staff to infection risks or prevent face-to-face meetings.
Barriers remain: including internet and technology access, regulations around rebates, the need for more peer reviewed evidence, and client acceptance.
Telehealth could be improved further with:
- integrated systems – including flexible digital resources, and better technologies to support bookings, delivery, and payments; and
- more partnerships between speech pathologists and other professionals to share best practices, achieve economies of scale, and to increase consumer choice and coverage.
Further reading: Pearl, R., & Wayling, B. (2022). The Telehealth Era is Just Beginning, Harvard Business Review, May-June 2022, 87-94.
This infographic also appears in a recent issue of Banter Booster, our weekly round up of the best speech pathology ideas and practice tips for busy speech pathologists and speech pathology students.
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Hi there, I’m David Kinnane.
Principal Speech Pathologist, Banter Speech & Language
Our talented team of certified practising speech pathologists provide unhurried, personalised and evidence-based speech pathology care to children and adults in the Inner West of Sydney and beyond, both in our clinic and via telehealth.