What is Telehealth and Why Should I Think About It?

In the past 12 months, we have all become used to the idea of communicating online. We now find that we are having conversations, meeting up with family and friends, and are working with colleagues all from the comfort of home. The recent move to delivering and receiving services online has become part of our new ‘normal’. So how do online services work in the field of speech pathology?



What is telehealth and telepractice?

Telehealth is a health service that is provided online, with an audio and video connection. Telepractice refers to the setting in which the service is delivered e.g. private practice. Speech pathologists may refer to their telepractice or telehealth services. This just means that the speech pathology service is delivered online, using a secure video conferencing tool.


At Newcastle Speech Pathology, we have been providing online consultation and therapy services for several years. We use a platform called Coviu, which was designed by a speech pathologist, specifically for delivery services to clients in regional and remote Australian locations. Our telehealth journey began as we sought to reach out to clients who were unable to attend our clinic in person, due to either time, physical or geographical constraints.



Why choose telehealth?

Whilst telehealth and research into telepractice has been around for years, there is no doubt that clients and therapists have had an increased interest in the area during the recent COVID-19 pandemic. What was once considered a ‘backup’ service, is now seen as a convenient and effective alternative to in-person clinic visits.


Some great reasons to consider telehealth include:

  • Flexibility of appointment times - no travel time is involved, so there are options for flexible timing of appointments

  • Comfortable location - having a speech pathology appointment in the comfort of your own home, can really help clients feel relaxed and enable them to engage with the learning process

  • Convenience - it becomes easier to fit appointments into busy schedules

  • Familiarity - adults and children alike are familiar with online learning and consultations and are ready for online speech pathology services

  • Effectiveness of services - research indicates that most speech pathology services can be delivered equally as effectively as in-person services.

  • Whole-family learning - parents and other family members, who may not be available to attend in-persona appointments can be involved in consultations and therapy. This leads to improved support for the client.


Does it work?

The body of research into the effectiveness of telehealth is growing exponentially. Most evidence-based assessments and intervention can be delivered with equal effectiveness during online appointments.


From my perspective as a speech pathologist, I am actually seeing better results in many clients than I would have previously seen through in-person appointments. This is because telepractice is engaging, clients give their full attention to me face-to-face through the video chat, and parents and caregivers are more actively involved in sessions, learning how to support therapy goals in their day-to-day environment.


Yeah, but what about my child…?

If you have a busy and active child who doesn’t like to sit still, you may be concerned that telehealth is not for them. From experience, we find that these little busy people actually do really well with online therapy. Most children are used to looking at screens, and are happy to sit at the computer to chat.


Our speech pathologists are highly experienced in planning and delivering therapy in ways that keep children engaged. We have plenty of tips and tricks in our tool boxes that will help you and your child to get the most from your online appointments.


What do I need to do?

Give it a go! Online speech pathology services might be just what you and your busy family need. If you have a device and a good internet connection then you’re ready to try it out for yourself!


Newcastle Speech Pathology has been providing clinical services via telehealth since 2017. Hundreds of clients have found it an easy and time effective way to consult with a speech pathologist, engage in therapy and make progress with all aspects of their speech, language and literacy development.


To learn more or make an appointment contact us today on (02) 4948 9800 or email info@newcastlespeechpathology.com.au"