If there’s one constant in life, it’s change. This is true in the world of occupational therapy as it is everywhere else. Telehealth, or the practice of meeting with clients through a digital format, has recently drawn some attention. Counselors and therapists use this modern method of connecting with families, completing evaluations, and checking in on client progress between visits.
Benefits of Telemedicine
As the manager or owner of an occupational therapy office, you may already have some telehealth practices in place. For example, if you’ve shared information with other professionals through electronic means, this falls under the telehealth umbrella. There are several valuable benefits to embracing and increasing the use of this modern technology within your practice:
- Today, it’s possible to visit with other professionals involved in client care without leaving your own office. This technology allows you to draw on the expertise of professionals who don’t live or practice within your community.
- Connecting with clients over the phone or in a virtual office helps you maintain consistent communication with clients. This leads to an improved quality of care as you check in with clients regarding their exercises and other “homework.”
- It seems there are always clients with scheduling difficulties, including immobility, hectic schedules, or illness. Telehealth allows you to stay in touch regularly and protects the consistency of your work.
- Confidentiality is a vital element of any type of therapy. Modern technology provides safe ways to share sensitive information without leaving it open to accidental exposure. Whether this means completing assessments on a tablet or completing notes after a session with a client, telehealth ensures that paperwork isn’t left in the open or filed incorrectly.
There are many valuable benefits of telehealth, and you may have already become accustomed to these in your workplace. If you haven’t transitioned into teletherapy and assessments yet, consider some of the following tips for easing your agency and your clients into the use of this helpful technology.
One: Gain As Much Information As Possible
The unfamiliar can be uncomfortable, so start your transition to the increased use of telehealth by learning as much as you can. There are some valuable webinar courses covering the use of telemedicine software, hardware, assessments, and other technologies. Specific competencies (such as ethical, legal, clinical, and technical issues) are covered in these seminars, so you’ll know what to expect as you make this shift.
Two: Assess Your Office’s Need for Technology
When you’re comfortable with the way things have always been, it’s possible to overlook potential areas of improvement. Just as you work with clients to reflect on areas where they can improve, it’s important to do the same for your practice. Could you improve client care by updating the way you handle phone calls and record-keeping? What if your therapists could complete assessments in a virtual office and reserve home visits for therapy sessions? This would improve client care while reducing costs.
Three: Consider the Position of the Clients
Some of your clients may be ready to embrace telehealth occupational therapy, while others are only comfortable meeting with you in person. As you increase the use of technology in your practice, the transition will go more smoothly as you recognize which clients are comfortable with the change and which need a slower transition.
There are many ways you adjust to the constantly changing world of occupational therapy. Increasing your use of telemedicine practices is just one more area of adjustment. Keeping up with modern technology helps you communicate with other professionals and with your clients. It helps you maintain consistent therapeutic progress and protect the confidentiality of clients. With a bit of education, reflection, and consideration, you can smoothly transition to the use of telehealth to improve your occupational therapy practice.