HIPAA Compliant Speech Therapy Telehealth
As a speech-language pathologist or audiologist who practices speech therapy, you play a transformational role in the lives of children and adults who have difficulties with communication, eating, drinking and swallowing. So you know exactly how important accessibility to critical therapy treatments is to ensuring your patients maintain basic life functions and lead fulfilling lives.
Speech therapy telehealth is a reliable and effective way for speech-language pathologists and audiologists to ensure services remain accessible to patients, whether the therapeutic environment is a school, hospital, home, private practice or elsewhere. With access to therapy further restricted by Covid-19, therapists are realizing that integrating telehealth speech therapy services into their practice can improve patients’ lives and drive business success while still abiding by the HIPAA rules for a covered entity and keeping patient information secure.
Although speech therapy telehealth may not be the best choice for every patient, it’s important for speech-language pathologists and audiologists to consider how telehealth fits into their plan for the future, even if that means offering the option speech therapy telehealth in tandem with in-person services moving forward.
How speech therapy telehealth can improve your practice
Speech therapy telehealth, using a fully HIPAA compliant video conferencing platform, simple-to-use and cloud-based, you can improve your practice by increasing accessibility to therapy, simplifying your schedule and workflows, and improving patient and caregiver relationships in ways that weren’t possible before.
Attract more patients by increasing access to care
Speech therapy telehealth opens up access to care for patients in remote areas who likely don’t have access to many services. While in-facility care is readily available in more populated areas, those who need face-to-face care in rural locations often go without treatment due to distance. For speech-language pathologists and audiologists, using an easy-to-use speech therapy telehealth platform like HIPAA Video provides patients in hard-to-reach areas with simple access to care with a viable remote solution.
Align with childrens’ existing love of technology
Kids today are no strangers to technology. So when speech-language pathologists and audiologists adopt speech therapy telehealth, they won’t have to convince their youngest patients of all the benefits of video and computer interaction. Speech therapy telehealth aligns with their existing love for video interaction and in many instances is a great motivator for participation and practice. The HIPAA Video interface is intuitive and easy to grasp for kids and the screen sharing functionalities make it easy for speech-language pathologists and audiologists to share a variety of interactive exercises.
Schedule frequent check-ins with patients
As with all mental health professionals, regular communication between speech therapists and patients is vital to patient improvement in the short and long-term. Speech therapy telehealth is an ideal way for speech-language pathologists and audiologists to stay closely connected to patients and stay up to speed on their progress. They can use speech therapy telehealth to communicate frequently with patients, monitor their improvement and answer any questions. A convenient HIPAA compliant telehealth platform like HIPAA Video provides simple calendar scheduling tools to help streamline setting up these check-ins.
Seamlessly involve parents and caregivers
Speech therapy telehealth offers parents and family members an even greater opportunity to review and assess a specific session or overall therapy course as compared to in-person sessions that are usually conducted one-on-one, behind closed doors. Platforms like HIPAA Video allow every speech teletherapy session to be recorded, giving any parent or other concerned caregiver the ability to access the video and see exactly what is going on and remain involved in the child’s progress. Caregivers can see session notes, schedules, therapy plans and progress updates at any time they desire, and videos can also be referenced during parent meetings. This allows for any course-corrections needed to ensure all of the child’s needs are being addressed—mission critical as treatment evolves and the child progresses.
Easily share activities and games as home practice
Speech therapy telehealth enables speech-language pathologists and audiologists to open up online speech therapy games as another learning mode that makes for home practice. With HIPAA videos screen-sharing technology, speech-language pathologists and audiologists can open up a full range of the games available across the internet which can offer significant therapeutic value. With speech therapy telehealth, they can also walk their patients through these games using the screen sharing functionality, ensuring patients follow instructions, have the opportunity to ask live questions and get the most of these home practice techniques.
Improve access to to your specialization
If you’re a highly specialized speech-language pathologist or audiologist, language therapy telehealth can help you accommodate the patients who need your services the most. Therapists can now easily connect with students and adults (as long as the therapist and patient are in the same state) with specific cultural and linguistic needs, ensuring a greater overall therapeutic impact. When you’re able to align your offerings with the specific needs of patients, you can create a more tailored approach that yields a better outcome.
Gain the freedom to practice remotely within your state
While speech-language pathologists and audiologists must be licensed in the state where the patient is receiving the therapy and under the jurisdiction of that state’s regulations and state law, speech therapy telehealth still gives you the freedom and flexibility to practice remotely within your state. Speech-language pathologists and audiologists no longer need to restrict where in the state they live based on proximity to patients and can choose to work from any preferred environment.
Reduce scheduling mishaps and no-shows
You’ve been there. You have a patient in your calendar for Thursday but his calendar has the appointment for Wednesday. Now the patient has no alternative time and you have to scramble to fill up the empty slot. HIPAA Video helps you avoid these headaches by providing integrated calendar tools that help with accurate scheduling and automatic appointment reminders, both of which reduce no-shows by up to 30%.
Decrease office overhead costs
For many speech-language pathologists and audiologists, office rental costs have made up a large chunk of their overhead expenses, particularly in larger cities. Speech therapy telehealth gives you the option of reducing the use of an office, which can help reduce this monthly expenditure. This can greatly boost profitability while also giving you the comfort of working from your own home or preferred space. HIPAA Video also gives therapists easy options to add office assistants to office workflows, decreasing the need for in-person, front desk support and maintain digital psychotherapy notes, reducing clutter, to further drive down overhead costs.
Improve practice efficiency
Speech therapy telehealth shouldn’t complicate the day-to-day operations of your practice. The right telehealth platform will provide easy-to-use features that seamlessly integrate into your existing workflows and software tools. HIPAA Video integrates (via API) with EMR/EHR (Electronic Medical Records) and popular practice management software so you can add HIPAA compliant telehealth and securely share information easily in your existing office management platform(s).
What are the benefits of speech therapy telehealth for patients?
Speech therapy patients devote a great deal of time and energy to addressing communication, swallowing and eating challenges and can often end up facing anxiety and self consciousness along the way. The last thing speech-language pathologists and audiologists want to do is add complexity to patients’ lives by deciding to use a complicated speech therapy telehealth platform. HIPAA Video provides many benefits to speech therapy patients by removing any additional burdens for the patient that might get in the way of progress through a platform that everyone, no matter how tech savvy, will find easy to use.
Greater access to a variety of therapists and specialists
Speech therapy telehealth can be a dream come true for patients in less populated areas, who might require specialized treatment or have specific cultural or linguistic needs. Speech therapy telehealth opens up greater access to a variety of general intervention services but also to highly specialized speech-language pathologists and audiologists who may otherwise be inaccessible due to distance. Patients can also remain in the comfort of their own home or any other environment they choose so long as they have their preferred device handy.
Children can avoid stigma and fear
For many children, visiting a speech-language pathologist or audiologist in person at school heightens their anxiety and makes them even more self-conscious about getting the help needed to improve their speech. In these cases, speech therapy telehealth is an excellent way for children to access therapy from a more quiet location such as in an office or a study room in the library. Using a simple interface like HIPAA Video, students can easily attend sessions using any device that’s convenient. With speech therapy telehealth, students are more willing to get the help they need because treatment can be rendered with more privacy and at a date and time that better suits them.
Patients can receive ongoing feedback
Speech therapy telehealth gives patients the chance to receive therapist feedback on a more regular basis. Patients can ask questions, receive clarification on therapy games, and get timely feedback as they incorporate a variety of learning modes and modify their daily routines.
Better support from parents and caregivers
Speech therapy telehealth also provides a seamless way to involve parents and caregivers into therapeutic interventions. Similar to patients, parents and caregivers can receive real-time feedback from speech-language pathologists and audiologists so they can help support the patient in the best, most realistic way possible.
Protection during the Covid-19 pandemic
The Covid-19 pandemic has forced patients to balance their therapy needs with the need to stay safe and socially distant. HIPAA Video’s cloud-based speech therapy telehealth platform provides a simple interface that requires no training or downloads and works with any device and operating system, so patients can easily transition to speech therapy telehealth without any headaches.
Avoid frustrating schedule mishaps
Scheduling mishaps can cause major disruptions to your patient’s well-being as well to their progress. HIPAA Video provides integrated calendar tools and alerts that help patients avoid schedule mishaps or conflicts, ensuring that patients continue to reap the benefits of their therapy.
What are the challenges of speech therapy telehealth?
Results of randomized controlled trials indicate high client acceptance and positive outcomes with this method of delivering speech therapy. Nonetheless, therapists wishing to deliver care by telemedicine face a number of challenges.
Loss of in-person nuance
For speech-language pathologists and audiologists, each word, syllable, gesture, change in posture and a host of other verbal and non-verbal cues provide valuable insights into a patient’s disorder and informs the best therapeutic approach. Though many therapists agree on the value of speech therapy telehealth, you might be asking yourself how speech therapy telehealth, conducted through a screen, can actually substitute for the nuanced interactions of in-person therapy.
The reality is that many patients will still require this in-person interaction in order to truly reap the benefits of speech therapy. In these cases, adopting a hybrid approach between physical and telehealth can still be a great option for the patient. For example, speech-language pathologists and audiologists can conduct in-person sessions but can include frequent telehealth check-ins to see how patients are performing at-home exercises and suggest improvements.
Research shows that speech therapy telehealth provides equally effective results to in-person therapy, particularly among children, so speech therapy telehealth is likely here to stay. But it’s up to you as the therapist to determine exactly how each individual patient will best benefit from it, whether it’s a full transition into telehealth or through a hybrid approach.
Lack of privacy in certain environments
While speech therapy telehealth provides patients with greater privacy in certain situations, this isn’t always the case. In fact, many clients struggle to find a quiet, private space in their home, As a result, they face heightened anxiety and self consciousness from having therapy sessions within earshot of roommates, partners, children and others.
In these situations, clients may end up logging into sessions from locations with poor internet signals such as their cars, garages, outdoor decks and patios which can result in choppy or dropped sessions. For these clients, speech-language pathologists and audiologists can open up extended speech therapy telehealth hours, providing clients with the option to schedule their sessions during less than ideal times that allow for more privacy with access to a strong internet signal.
Low attention span among kids
While many kids are highly motivated by video interactions, certain children might find it difficult to stay attentive during speech therapy teletherapy sessions. When it comes to children with attention span issues, speech-language pathologists and audiologists may need to get a bit more creative and find ways to enlist parents and other caregivers to help monitor sessions. Therapists can also recommend modifications to the teletherapy environment, such as removing distracting objects, to increase a child’s attention during sessions.
Common speech therapy telehealth FAQs
How does speech therapy telehealth work with insurance?
Reimbursement across Medicare, Medicaid and private health insurance varies. Please visit the ASHA (American Speech-Language-Hearing Association) for more detailed information and resources.
My patients are all currently residing all over the United States due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Will speech therapy telehealth allow me to continue providing services to them?
Typically, both you and your patient(s) must participate in the therapy session from the state/jurisdiction where you have a license. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, however, many states have adjusted certain practicing restrictions which may provide you with more flexibility in terms of where your patients can be located when receiving therapy. We suggest referencing this ASHA resource to better understand the specific changes by state.
I’ve never done telehealth and I’m worried about coming across as cold through a screen. Do you have any tips?
Many speech-language pathologists and audiologists are establishing their “webside manner” as they turn toward telehealth. While speaking through a screen can’t ever replicate in-person interactions, there are certain basic tips to consider as you begin to conduct speech therapy telehealth sessions.
- Practice in front of the web camera: Speaking to a camera doesn’t come naturally to everyone. You might find it helpful to have a few practice sessions to get used to being on camera before fully diving into teletherapy. As a speech-language pathologist or an audiologist, you might focus your practice on getting closer to the camera to demonstrate specific mouth movements so that patients can really understand your instructions.
- Pay even more attention to eye contact: It’s easy to get distracted when you’re sitting in front of your computer so it’s even more important that you pay attention to maintaining eye contact when speaking and listening through the computer camera.
- Maintain the right environment: You’ve put effort into making your physical office a safe, comfortable and relaxing space for your patients. Take the same approach with your teletherapy location. Maintain a background that is professional, uncluttered, and calm. Keep yourself well-lit and visible during sessions.
HIPAA Video Capabilities for
Speech Therapy Telehealth
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