How do I know if my organization or workplace is ready to use telepractice services?
If you are considering telepractice for your organization/workplace there are several things to consider before launching this type of program.
Who will deliver these services? Is it going to be a speech-language pathologist? Is it going to be someone with a great deal of experience or someone with less experience?
Training needs of the telepractitioners. How are you going to train people to deliver telepractice services? We do need more training institutions and training programs. While there are colleges and universities that are incorporating telepractice training and exposure into their SLP graduate programs, currently, there are a limited number of training opportunities for individuals who already have their CCCs or who are practicing in the field. If you are interested in developing in-depth telepractice training for professionals in the field, please reach out to me, because I'm eager to work with others who want to set up those kinds of opportunities.
Management support and buy-in. Do you have "buy-in" from management? Do the decision-makers and the key stakeholders support your efforts to launch telepractice? Do they understand what telepractice is and the flexibility that it will provide you as a clinician, as well as your clientele? Do they see that this could be a way to meet some unmet needs in the field or unmet needs of the potential patients that you could serve? Support and buy-in from management are going to be critical to getting your telepractice off the ground.
Patient/Client support and buy-in. Do your patients have an interest in the telepractice option being available to them? Do they know what telepractice is and the potential benefits it could provide to them? It's important to make sure that everyone is on the same page, and you have that level of buy-in from everyone on staff.
Facility requirements (physical space and privacy). What type of physical space within your facility will you use to deliver your telepractice services? It needs to be an area free of distractions from behind because when you're sitting at the computer, your clients will be able to see you and everything behind you. Do you have adequate lighting? Do you have enough privacy and security to make sure that the services you deliver can remain confidential? You need to maintain the same level of privacy delivering services via telepractice that you would provide in person. If you work in a hospital or center, you have to keep things confidential. Do you have a room that can be secure and private?
Availability of technical support. Do you have technical support available if there are issues that come up with technology equipment? For example, if the audio or video goes out on the computer, you will require some type of troubleshooting and technical support to be able to fix and resolve the issue. I strongly suggest you think through that before launching into telepractice, because I can guarantee you that at some point, things break. Technology will need repair, updating and eventual replacement. You need that tech support in place.
Please refer to the SpeechPathology.com course, Connecting to Communicate: Designing Telepractice Services, for more in-depth information on fundamental technological requirements as well as other preparatory strategies practitioners can employ prior to launching a successful telepractice program.