Juliane Pearson took the leap from working as a school-based speech-language pathologist to opening her own private practice a year ago. So she came to ASHA’s Private Practice Connect to get some ideas and strategies—and she was not disappointed.
“I’m lucky I’m still small,” she said after attending a presentation on the importance of tracking patient and practice-pattern data by Shannon Butkus. “I can put the tracking system in place now, and it will be available as I grow.” Pearson hadn’t even thought of how data can help clinicians appeal insurance denials, demonstrate value, earn incentives and identify practice patterns until she read Butkus’ article in the April issue of the Leader. Now data tracking will be an integral part of her Pearson’s Speech Therapy practice in Greenwood, Arkansas.
The sessions at ASHA Private Practice Connect and Health Care Connect—held in conjunction with Schools Connect in New Orleans last week—offered SLPs working in health care and private practice hands-on information they can start using right away.
Keri Barlow, who has just opened More Than Words Speech Network in Paducah, Kentucky, called the private practice sessions eye-opening, noting “We don’t learn the business side in school, just the clinical.” With sessions on data tracking, hiring and firing, contracts and other issues, she says, “What I’m learning here is going to help ensure my business doesn’t fail. For instance, I know that whatever electronic medical records system I choose has to be able to capture all the data I need.”
After attending a presentation on ethics and supervision, Joan Babin, a private practitioner in Reserve, Louisiana, had strong advice for her fellow SLPs: “Read the ASHA Code of Ethics!” she says. The follow-up lab session, she says, reinforced that cases of suspected ethics violations are not always clear-cut and “undoubtedly, there will be some gray areas.”
Nora Delgado, who owns Talk to Me, a practice in Montebello, California, now realizes the importance of documenting and tracking business and clinical information. “Documentation is critical in these changing times,” she says, “and it allows us to demonstrate the good that we do and the positive outcomes for our clients.”
Neina Ferguson, a pediatric feeding specialist (“I get to play with food all day!”) and owner of Tubes 2 Table in Pensacola, Florida, now appreciates that “we have a really strong voice” by advocating with state legislators. “I can invite them to visit my practice and I can advocate for my services,” she says. “We can make a difference.”
On the health care side, Roberta Watkins, a clinician with Tara Therapy in Jackson, Mississippi, had never used the penetration-aspiration scale to interpret results of videofluoroscopic swallow studies. But after hearing Jim Coyle’s presentation on how to use the scale—and participating in a follow-up lab session with hands-on practice—she said she would “definitely start to use it” when she returned home.
And even though Karen Grimes, a clinician with Sparks Health System in Fort Smith, Arkansas, has already been using the scale, she has “new ideas about how to interpret results.”
Several Health Care Connect participants were wowed by Megan Sutton’s session on using apps in aphasia treatment. Khristina Douglas, a clinician with the West Texas Rehabilitation Center in San Angelo, says that “there are so many apps available, picking one is hard. But now I have a better idea of how to choose them.” Her department is trying to implement more technology into treatment, “and now I see how easy it can be, even with adult patients. I think I can do it!”
Donna Hersch found Donna Lundy’s session on swallowing intervention with head and neck cancer patients particularly enlightening. “I now have a bank of studies and a list of the most effective traditional treatments based on research,” she says. Hersch, a clinician at Mount Carmel Rehabilitation in Westerville, Ohio, also learned when electrical stimulation treatment is appropriate—and when it isn’t.
At the three-day conference, participants could choose to attend sessions in all three tracks. Tomorrow, look for a blog on what SLPs got out of going to Schools Connect sessions.