As a tele-practitioner for the past six years, I’ve come across many misconceptions about telepractice. Here are eight common myths I’ve heard, along with what I believe to be the corresponding truths.
Myth #1: Telepractice is easier than working onsite. ASHA states telepractice services must be equivalent to those provided onsite. Our professionalism and commitment should remain as strong as if we see clients in person. Telepractice is not a “shortcut.” In fact, I spend just as much time planning, doing paperwork and attending meetings as when I worked in schools.
Myth #2: Telepractice can’t adequately engage and maintain clients’ attention. Students are very comfortable with technology. My current clients exhibit less difficulty staying on-task than those I worked with onsite. An e-helper—typically a paraprofessional—can also assist in client engagement. They can assist you with behavior modification, along with other tasks you may assign.
Myth #3: I work from home, so I can dress how I want. Telepractioners can’t only dress professionally from the waist up! Best practice involves dressing professionally from head-to-toe, just like when you work onsite. Not dressing professionally can negatively affect your clients’ view of telepractice and the level of professionalism involved. And they might share those views with others.
Myth #4: I can work while my child naps/plays. Telepractice isn’t something you do “on-the-side” while trying to save money on child care. Clients should get your entire focus during sessions. SLPs working onsite typically don’t bring their children to work. If you decide to become a tele-practitioner, arrange for daycare outside of your home.
Myth #5: I should accept the pay a telepractice company offers even if it seems low. After all, I get to work from home! Do your research before applying to work with a telepractice firm. Are there online reviews? Reach out to a tele-practitioner to ask about salary, scheduling flexibility, licensure reimbursement and pay for indirect services.
Myth #6: I don’t need to pay for video-conferencing because I can use Skype or Facetime for free. Besides the telepractitioner requiring a password-protected computer, all information pertaining to clients must be password protected as well. You must find a secure video conferencing platform, as well as encrypting and password-protecting any recordings or paperwork. Research HIPAA to learn what steps you need to take to maintain confidentiality.
Myth #7: I won’t connect with my clients if I provide services via telepractice. Giving virtual “High 5s,” as well as providing visual and verbal positive reinforcement, create a positive learning environment. By using technology to provide services, students often view you in as cool and hip. Consider your clients’ online interests as you develop plans to meet their treatment goals and then watch the connections develop!
Myth #8: None of my current materials will work for telepractice. I use plenty of hard-copy materials in telepractice. Upload materials by scanning and saving them on your computer. Other options include mirroring (screen-casting) them or displaying them with a document viewing feature on your platform. If you use hard-copy materials requiring client manipulation—cut and paste, for example—scan and email them to your client or the school so they can print them ahead of time. Some telepractice platforms also offer a white board space where SLPs and clients can draw or type in real time.
Nothing about telepractice prevents the quality of our services from equaling or exceeding those delivered onsite.
What telepractice myths have you heard? Share in the comment section below.
Tracy Sippl, MS, CCC-SLP, is the clinical supervisor for Advanced Travel Therapy. She is a member of the Coordinating Committee of ASHA Special Interest Group 18, Telepractice. firstname.lastname@example.org.