A Private Practice Alternative: Providing Therapy Online

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Therapy: Just a cable away?

Projects such as the Speech Therapy Telehealth Project that strive to reach clients who are isolated either by disability or geography are not new.

Many enterprising SLP's have found ways to use telecommunication, however complete online private practice, such as that of SLP Marnee Brick, co-founder of "TinyEYE.com" Telepractice and mother of two out of Saskatchewan, are rare. Marnee's online business is growing from a seedling idea to an online resource utilizing therapy data system that supports record keeping, access to a variety of therapy materials and has received the attention of local small business funders. See her website, http://tinyeye.wordpress.com/media/ for a sampling of videos regarding teletherapy concepts and utilization.(continued)

Challenges for private practitioners include considerable entrepreneurial time up front, obtaining insurance approval for teletherapy, the need for sophisticated online materials, and provision of technology tools for clients who may not have home computers. SLPs should be aware that each state regulates teletherapy standards. DORA, Colorado's Department of Regulatory Agencies does allow teletherapy via e-mail or internet provided that first contact with the client and any initial evaluations are made face-to-face.

ASHA report on Integris Telehealth out of Oklahoma INTEGRIS Health and the Hugo Public Schools collaborated in a two-year speech teletherapy pilot study to test speech therapy services delivered over two-way, interactive videoconferencing.

"The pilot study has proved that telecommunications can be used to effectively deliver speech therapy–both articulation and language interventions – to students in rural schools. This was echoed in a Report to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association Executive Board. The Issues in Credentialing Team for that organization stated that it believed 'that the remote delivery of audiology and speech-language pathology services through technology (telehealth) has the potential to become a more widely used mode of clinical service delivery and a rapidly expanding marketplace niche for our professions.'"