What is happening during the Covid 19 crisis?
During the current situation we have introduced teletherapy. Teletherapy is simply therapy using telecommunications (phones, computers, iPads). It mostly involves the online delivery of speech therapy services via high-resolution, live video conferencing, but it can also include phone calls. Teletherapy sessions are very similar to traditional speech therapy sessions which one major exception – instead of sitting in the same room, students and therapists interact via live video conferencing.
During therapy sessions, the student and therapist can see, hear, and interact with one another in real time, using a live, synchronous online learning environment. If you’ve ever used Skype on your computer or FaceTime on your iPhone, you’ve used a similar type of technology.
The actual therapy is the same as the therapist would deliver face-to-face, only teletherapy is done with a computer. Our therapists use traditional therapy techniques and activities and enhance those techniques through innovative software and tools and have the technology literally at their fingertips to plan and deliver high-quality services.
Is Teletherapy safe?
Our therapists are ethically bound by privacy laws to not share details about their teletherapy sessions with third parties, just as with face-to-face sessions. The therapists ensure that they are in a private and secure room before engaging in any teletherapy sessions. The sessions are never recorded or shared unless with explicit agreement from you.
From your side, it is also important to ensure that you and/or your child are in an equally private area to ensure confidentiality.
As with anything that you do online, e.g. browsing the web, positing on social media, there is always some risk of your information being accessed. Our therapists follow some guidelines to protect your information including setting a meeting password, using a waiting room feature and locking the session once you have joined to ensure that no one can enter it uninvited.
Why are we using Zoom?
We have decided to use Zoom as our teletherapy platform as it is very easy to use. Zoom offers crystal-clear face to face video and high quality screen sharing.
It’s easy to schedule events and send invites to you. You don’t need to download anything, you can simply click on the link in the invitation.
Many schools are using Zoom as a platform to connect teachers and students and most people are familiar with it.
There are safety features incorporated in Zoom that allow us to keep the sessions safe.
Are Teletherapy sessions as good as face to face sessions?
Lots of people believe that teletherapy sessions are inferior to in-clinic, face-to-face sessions. This isn’t true. All our therapists have the appropriate qualifications, have numerous hours of clinical experience and are registered with Speech Pathology Australia, so there is no compromise in the quality of the therapists.
Regarding the online mode of delivery, teletherapy has been used successfully since the late 1990s for hundreds of thousands of therapy sessions. It is, and has been, considered an effective and appropriate therapeutic delivery mode based on 20 years of research by over 40 academic published studies.
The first was the landmark paper by the Mayo Clinic in 1997 which stated, “Telemedicine (teletherapy) evaluations can be reliable, beneficial, and acceptable to patients with a variety of acquired speech and language disorders, both in rural settings and within large multidisciplinary medical settings.”
Also Speech Pathology Australia endorses teletherapy and has released the following position statement: “Speech Pathology Australia supports the use of telepractice as a service delivery model where telepractice is based on current evidence-based practice and is at least equivalent to standard clinical care”.
For more information on what the research has shown regarding the effectiveness of teletherapy sessions, have a look at:
Would teletherapy work for me when I’m not technologically savvy?
Absolutely yes. You don’t need to have a lot of technical know-how to engage in teletherapy. All you need is a device with a camera (e.g. laptop, iPad or iPhone) and a good internet connection. You will receive a link from your therapist (either via email or text) that you simply click on and it will open up the Zoom session for you. If your video or sound isn’t working, the therapist can help problem solve with a few ideas to get it started.
If you are unsure about using teletherapy, you can do a free trial run where you simply connect and say hello. We can also do a trial session with your child. If you decide that it’s not working within 10 minutes, you won’t be charged for the session.
How will I pay for a teletherapy session?
The receptionist will phone you on the day of your session and process your payment over the phone. If she is unable to reach you, you will be sent an invoice for the session.
If you have funding through a third party (e.g. NDIS, DOCS, etc) your invoices will be submitted as usual.
Can I use my EPC rebates or Health fund card?
In response to the COVID 19 situation many health funds are announcing that customers who have extras cover for speech pathology will be able to make a claim for speech pathology services offered via teletherapy. It is important to check with your health fund provider regarding your level of cover and what changes have been made. After you pay for your session, we will send a paid invoice with the item code, which you can then submit to your health fund.
Similarly, the government has announced changes to the Medicare rebate for teletherapy services offered by allied health providers in light of the current circumstances. These sessions, however, are only 20 minutes in length and will be bulk billed.