Occupational Therapy Telehealth

As an occupational therapist, you help people of all ages by helping them promote health, and prevent—or live better with—injury, illness, or disability. So you know exactly how important accessibility to therapy and therapeutic resources is to your patients’ overall wellbeing. 

Occupational therapy telehealth is a reliable way to ensure your practice remains accessible to your patients, whether the therapeutic environment is a school, hospital, home or private practice. With access to therapy further restricted by Covid-19 stay at home orders, therapists are realizing that integrating occupational therapist telehealth into their practice can improve patients’ lives and drive business success. 

Although occupational therapy telehealth may not be the best choice for every patient, it’s important for therapists to consider how telehealth fits into their plan for the future, even if that means offering the option occupational therapy telehealth in tandem with in-person services moving forward. 

How Occupational Therapy Telehealth can improve your practice

Occupational therapy telehealth, using a flexible, cloud-based and compliant platform like HIPAA Video, can improve your practice by increasing accessibility to hard-to-reach patients, 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

Occupational therapy telehealth opens up access to care for patients in remote areas who usually don’t have access to many services. While home health care and in-facility care is often readily available in more populated areas, those who need care in rural locations often go without treatment due to distance. Using an easy-to-use occupational therapy telehealth platform like HIPAA Video provides patients in hard-to-reach areas with easy access to care with a viable remote solution. 

Decrease money and time spent on traveling to patients

Sometimes occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants (OTAs) may need to travel to their patients who have mobility issues and/or are in rural locations. In these cases,  occupational therapy telehealth allows you to provide a high-quality therapy experience without having to travel. Not traveling means that you win back time in your schedule and can avoid costly travel expenses as well. 

Evaluate patients’ day-to-day environment in real-time

Therapists can use occupational therapist telehealth to gain a window into patients’ living and working environments and make realistic suggestions for modifying their environment. Therapists can check out how patients are actually using assistive technology while providing valuable feedback and direction remotely. Using an occupational therapy telehealth platform like HIPAA Video, with its distraction-free, high-quality video interface, will help support the accuracy of home evaluations as well.

Dispatch valuable educational resource materials efficiently

Occupational therapists now have access to unlimited educational resource materials from the internet that benefit patients. Occupational therapy telehealth allows therapists to make these materials in written, audio and video form, readily available to patients and caregivers. HIPAA Video’s platform, which includes robust chat functionalities, screen sharing and session recording capabilities, allows you to give patients always-on access to important materials, whether it’s the latest guidance on assistive technologies, new adaptive techniques, or even valuable tips from sessions.

Coach at-home caregivers

An estimated 53 million people are informal caregivers in the United States and they make up an important part of patient intervention teams. Occupational therapy telehealth allows therapists to partner with one or more at-home caregivers and observe the day-to-day interactions between patients and caregivers to provide feedback, instruction on therapeutic techniques, solve problems in real time and optimize daily habits and routines.

Improve access to specialized care

Occupational therapy telehealth is a convenient way for highly specialized therapists to accommodate patients across multiple locations without traveling. Through occupational therapy telehealth, therapists can either deploy their OTAs to facilitate sessions on-site while they participate in sessions remotely or they can have OTAs facilitate remotely. (depending on state regulations). HIPAA Video makes it simple for therapists to add OTAs to workflows so that they can open up more of their schedules to patients who need specialized care without disrupting their practice operations.

Gain the freedom to practice remotely within your state

While occupational therapists and OTAs must be licensed in the state where the patient is receiving the therapy and under the jurisdiction of that state’s regulations, occupational therapy telehealth still gives you the freedom and flexibility to practice remotely within your state. Therapists 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 therapists, office rental costs have made up a large chunk of their overhead expenses, particularly in larger cities. Occupational therapy telehealth gives you the option to give up your office, maybe even for good. Reducing this huge monthly expenditure 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, further driving down overhead costs.

Improve practice efficiency

Occupational 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 easily to your existing office management platform(s).

What are the benefits of occupational therapy telehealth for patients?

Occupational therapy patients must navigate tough circumstances resulting from injury, disability or other physical and cognitive changes. The last thing you want to do is add complexity to their lives by deciding to use a complicated occupational therapy telehealth platform. HIPAA Video provides benefits to occupational 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 therapy

Occupational therapy telehealth can be a dream come true for patients in less populated areas and/or who suffer from mobility issues who are left without access to the services they need. Occupational therapy telehealth opens up both intervention services in general but also to highly specialized therapists as well. Patients can also be in the comfort of their own home or any other environment they choose so long as they have their preferred device handy. 

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 occupational 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 occupational therapy telehealth without any headaches.

Evaluation of patients’ daily environment in real-time

Occupational therapy telehealth gives patients the chance to receive therapist evaluations of their actual living, working and school environments. Patients can receive real-time feedback as they incorporate adaptive technologies into their settings and modifications to their daily routines. 

Easier involvement for at-home caregivers

Occupational therapy telehealth also provides a seamless way to involve at-home caregivers into therapeutic interventions. Similar to patients, at-home caregivers can also receive real-time feedback from therapists so they can help support the patient in the best, most realistic way possible.

What are the challenges of occupational therapy telehealth?

Results of randomized controlled trials indicate high client acceptance and positive outcomes with this method of delivering psychotherapy. Nonetheless, psychotherapists wishing to deliver psychotherapy by telemedicine face a number of challenges. 

Lacking the human touch

Human touch, both instrumental and expressive, has always played a key role in occupational therapy interventions. Though many therapists agree on the value of occupational therapy telehealth, you might be asking yourself how occupational therapy telehealth, conducted through a screen, can actually substitute for this aspect of therapy. 

The reality is that many patients will still require in-person interactions in order to truly reap the benefits of occupational therapy, particularly patients that are dealing with physical injuries and disabilities. In these cases, adopting a hybrid approach between physical and telehealth can still be a great option for the patient. Therapists can also choose to rely on telehealth purely for the aspect of coaching at-home caregivers who cannot be available for in-person sessions. 

Occupational 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. 

Use of physical props

You know how important physical props can be to occupational therapy interventions. But the introduction of occupational therapy telehealth has left a lot of therapists wondering how they will make up for the inability to offer their patients these physical props to use during sessions.  

In these cases, therapists will simply need to get a bit more inventive. You will probably need to spend time with the patient evaluating their home environment for prop substitutes they can use during sessions. This might require therapists to exercise a bit more patience as they help patients feel comfortable and confident with this transition. While the lack of formal physical props might seem like an obstacle at first, with a bit of creativity it’s possible to work around this to make occupational therapy telehealth successful for your patients.

Common occupational therapy telehealth FAQs

How does occupational therapy telehealth work with insurance?

Reimbursement across Medicare, Medicaid and private health insurance varies. Please visit the AOTA (American Occupational Therapy Association) site for more detailed information and resources.

My patients are all currently residing all over the United States due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Will occupational therapy telehealth allow me to continue providing services to them?

Since there is currently no multi-state licensing compact for occupational therapy, 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 AOTA 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 therapists are rethinking their “bedside 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 occupational 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.
  • 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 and keep yourself well-lit and visible during sessions.

HIPAA Video capabilities for occupational health telehealth

For The Health Of Your Practice

For the Health of your Patients