Thursday, May 28, 2020

Everything you need to know about Telehealth

How Does Telehealth Work for Speech Therapy and Hearing Loss

What is Telehealth?

If you are looking for telehealth, telemedicine, teleaudiology, telespeech, speech teletherapy, or telepractice, you should first understand that these terms are used at the discretion of the practitioners, but all fall under "The application of telecommunications technology to the delivery of speech-language pathology and audiology professional services at a distance by linking clinician to client or clinician to clinician for assessment, intervention, and/or consultation." Says, Arlene Pietranton, Ph.D., CAE, Chief Executive Officer, The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), who adopted the term telepractice rather than the other terms to avoid the misperception that these services are used only in health care settings.  

Achieve Hearing & Rehabilitation adopted the term "Telehealth" to define the delivery of speech-language pathology and audiology professional services.  Download Speech Therapy Telehealth Flyer

How does Telehealth work?

Amy McKay Gehan, M.A., CCC-SLP says, "take a close look at the telehealth practitioners you plan to work with to reach your goal, because beyond the computer, iPad, or smartphone there is a real speech-language pathologist (SLP) or audiologist who should be providing telehealth sessions that target 100% of the same goals completed at the office."  Just because you don't have to visit the office, doesn't mean you experience should lack professionalism.

Telehealth Testimonial:

"I think it [telehealth] is wonderful!! It makes my life easier. The speech therapist works on the same goals on telehealth as they did at the office. It is all the same, we just are not physically at the office." 

 – Allyson, Lilly’s (10-year-old) and AJ’s (7-year-old) mother.

The use of telehealth for speech-language pathology and audiology should be based on the unique clinical presentation of the patient and the ability of the clinician to ensure that the quality of any services provided in this manner matches the quality of services provided in person. Gehan co-founded Achieve Hearing & Rehabilitation in 2005 to help people achieve a balanced life.  She has over 20 years of experience working with children and adults. Prior to opening Achieve Hearing & Rehabilitation Amy worked in private practice, hospital, and residential care settings.  Gehan says, "we can load the Achieve Hearing therapy materials into the telehealth program. This enables patients to see the information just as if they were in the office, and the virtual whiteboard enables patients to complete therapeutic activities with our speech therapist or audiologist therapist.

Is Telehealth Secure and HIPAA-Compliant?

According to ASHA, the demand for audiology services is projected to increase by 21% by 2026, and the demand for speech-language pathology services is projected to increase by 18% during that period.  So be vigilant in your search and use discretion when searching for the best telehealth providers.  Therefore beyond the personalized attention, you receive in your telehealth experience, your speech therapy session should be using a secure telehealth platform that was designed for people in the medical profession.

Under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), a “health care provider” is a covered entity under HIPAA if it transmits any health information in electronic form in connection with a transaction for which the Secretary has adopted a standard (e.g., billing insurance electronically). See 45 CFR 160.103 (definitions of health care provider, health care, and covered entity).

Does Medicare pay for telehealth services?

Medicare pays for many different services that involve the use of these types of communications technologies. A fact sheet regarding Medicare payment and coverage is available at medicare-COVID-19-fact-sheet.pdf. Telehealth services paid by Medicare are the services defined in section 1834(m) of the Social Security Act that would otherwise be furnished in person but is instead furnished via real-time, interactive communication technology.

The telehealth program offered by Achieve Hearing & Rehabilitation has several options. Here's what you need for a speech therapy session and more telehealth benefits: 

  • Log on from home using their personal computer (with external or integrated webcam & microphone), computer, IPad, or smartphone.

  • Choose a well-lit area with minimal background noise or distractions where no one else is within hearing range.

  • Achieve’s Telehealth Program helps patients feel like they are working with their speech therapist or audiologist at the office. Therefore, helping to keep the world normal for our patients.

  • Patients will be able to see and talk with their speech therapist or audiologist.

  • Achieve Hearing can load the Achieve therapy materials into the program. This enables patients to see the information just as if they were in the office. 

  • A virtual whiteboard enables patients to complete therapeutic activities with their therapist.

  • The individual, private, one-on-one sessions will mimic the services completed at the office. 

  • Achieve to target 100% of the same goals completed at the office on telehealth.

  • Diagnoses include Acquired Brain Injury, Aphasia, Apraxia of Speech, Autism Spectrum Disorders, Balance Disorders, Dementia, Dysarthria, Dysphagia, Fluency, Hearing Loss, Intellectual Disability, Mild Cognitive Impairment, Parkinson‘s Disease, Social Communication Disorder, Speech Sound Disorders, Spoken Language Disorders, Stroke, Tinnitus, Traumatic Brain Injury, Voice Disorders, Written Language Disorders 

The use of telehealth can be beneficial to the practice areas of, Assessment, Screening, Service Delivery, and Treatment, and constantly evolving, ongoing education and training are required to maintain expertise and familiarity with changes in telehealth technology and potential clinical applications. 

Achieve a balanced life.

Enhance Older Adult Access to Telehealth Services
Amy McKay Gehan, M.A., CCC-SLP Biography
Arlene Pietranton, PhD, CAE, Chief Executive Officer, ASHA [Video]
ASHA requires that individuals who provide telepractice abide by the ASHA Code of Ethics
Achieve Hearing & Rehabilitation, Speech Therapy Telehealth Flyer
Achieve Hearing & Rehabilitation, Speech Therapy Telehealth Website