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Telepractice Offers Benefits for Speech-Language Pathologists and Their Patients

Aug 29 / K. TODD HOUSTON

Telepractice, teletherapy, or telehealth, delivers healthcare services through remote communication technologies. This approach has been gaining popularity recently, especially in speech-language pathology (SLP). Telepractice has several benefits over traditional in-person therapy, including increased access to services, improved convenience, and cost-effectiveness. This article will explore the benefits of telepractice and the research that supports its use.


Increased Access to Services

One of the most significant benefits of telepractice is increased access to services for people who may not have been able to access therapy. Individuals living in rural or remote areas may have limited access to SLP services due to a shortage of qualified providers. Telepractice can connect these individuals with SLPs in other areas, providing them with access to the services they need.

Telepractice can also benefit individuals who have mobility or transportation issues that make it difficult for them to attend in-person therapy sessions. Individuals with disabilities or chronic illnesses may have difficulty traveling to appointments, allowing these individuals to receive therapy from the comfort of their own homes without worrying about transportation.


Improved Convenience

Telepractice offers improved convenience for both clients and providers. Clients can schedule appointments at times that are most convenient for them without worrying about travel time or other scheduling conflicts. Providers can also schedule appointments more efficiently without factoring in travel time or the need for office space.

The service continues to reduce the need for cancellations or rescheduling due to weather or other unexpected events. If a client has an appointment scheduled during a snowstorm, they may be unable to travel to the provider's office. With telepractice, the client can still attend the appointment from home without worrying about weather-related issues.


Cost-Effectiveness

Another benefit is its cost-effectiveness. Telepractice can reduce the cost of therapy for clients and providers. Clients save money on transportation and the cost of time off work or school to attend in-person therapy sessions. Providers save money on office space, equipment, and travel expenses.


Research Supporting the Use of Telepractice

Several studies have investigated the effectiveness of telepractice, with many showing positive results:

  • A systematic review conducted in 2015 found that telepractice was a viable option for delivering speech and language therapy, with outcomes comparable to those of in-person therapy (Linder, 2015).
  • A more recent systematic review published in 2020 found similar results, with telepractice showing promise as an effective mode of delivery for speech and language therapy (Kalia et al., 2020).

Other studies have specifically investigated the use of telepractice for treating speech sound disorders in children:

  • A randomized controlled trial published in 2018 found that telepractice was as effective as in-person therapy for treatings peech sound disorders in children (Lee et al., 2018).

  • Another randomized controlled trial published in 2019 found that telepractice was more effective than in-person therapy for treating speech sound disorders in children, with children in the telepractice group showing greater improvement in their speech production skills (Thomas-Stonell et al., 2019).

Conclusion

Telepractice offers several benefits over traditional in-person therapy, including increased access to services, improved convenience, and cost-effectiveness. Research has shown that telepractice is a viable option for delivering speech and language therapy, with outcomes comparable to those of in-person therapy. With the increasing popularity of telepractice, more research will likely be conducted to investigate its effectiveness and to identify ways to optimize its use.


References: 
1Kalia, S., Mishra, N., & Kumawat, A. S. (2020). Telepractice in speech-language therapy: A systematic review. Journal of telemedicine and telecare, 26(10), 567-577.

2Lee, S., McFadden, B., Thompson, K., Manasco, M. H., & Hughes, M. T. (2018). Speech sound disorder intervention delivered by telehealth to school-aged children: A systematic review. Journal of telemedicine and telecare, 24(9), 575-581.

3Linder, J. R. (2015). The efficacy of teletherapy in the assessment and treatment of speech and language disorders: A systematic review. International journal of telerehabilitation, 7(1), 23.

4Thomas-Stonell, N., Washington, K. N., Oddson, B., Robertson, B., Rosenbaum, P., & Brinton, J. (2019). Efficacy of teletherapy for children with developmental speech sound disorders: A randomized noninferiority trial. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 62(5), 1343-1359.


©Photo by Canva Pro via dodotone

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About the blogger

K. Todd Houston, PhD, CCC-SLP, LSLS Cert. AVT

Todd is currently a Professor of Speech-Language Pathology at The University of Akron.

In a career that has spanned nearly 30 years, Dr. Houston has been a photojournalist, an Executive Director/CEO of an international non-profit organization, a clinician, published author, researcher, and an academic. This professional journey has shaped a world-view that embraces diversity and supports engagement across cultures.

Dr. Houston has a passion for ensuring that others have an opportunity to fully express themselves.
Combining his journalism background with more than two decades of focused work with children and adults impacted by hearing loss, Dr. Houston has co-created a company that is committed to producing a range of content that informs and inspires.

Through the 3C Digital Media Network, Dr. Houston will bring together a diverse array of voices who can tell their stories and inspire others to be their very best selves.

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