What is Telepractice Speech Therapy?

What is telepractice?

Telepractice is delivering the therapy service when the therapy provider and client are in two different physical locations. Telepractice also can be called teletherapy. Telepractice is used in the assessment and treatment of a wide range of speech and language disorders including: articulation, autism, dysarthria, fluency disorders, language and cognitive disorders, dysphagia and voice disorders (ASHA, 2017).

How does it work?

Telepractice speech/language services utilize a variety of technologies as technology is inherent for telepractice to work.  Laptops, desktops, tablets, smartphones and headphones help connect the clinician and client for telepractice. Sometimes, a teletherapy facilitator is present in the same location as the client to ensure that technology and client attention are optimized.

Is it covered by insurance?

Reimbursement for teletherapy services varies from state to state and insurance coverage should be verified before the initial assessment. Generally, commercial insurance will cover teletherapy speech-language therapy. Medicaid coverage for teletherapy varies from state to state but Medicare will not reimburse for teletherapy services.

Who is a candidate for telepractice?

Not everyone is a candidate for telepractice. It is the responsibility of the clinician to determine candidacy and eligibility for speech-language telepractice. Clinicians must consider the physical and sensory characteristics, cognitive, behavioral and motivational characteristics, communication characteristics as well as the client/patient’s support resource when deciding if telepractice may benefit the client (ASHA, 2017).

Can an SLP be licensed in their home state and provide telepractice services in another state?

ASHA states that the SLP must be licensed in their home state and the state where the client resides. Some states do not allow telepractice yet so it is important that the clinician is informed about licensure for each state they plan to provide teletherapy in.

Is telepractice HIPAA compliant?

Providers must comply with HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) regulations when choosing technology to use for telepractice and take steps to ensure that the privacy of a client’s protected health information remains secure (ASHA, 2010).

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