What to expect from Telehealth

(The below information was drafted by Speech Pathology Australia)

What is Telehealth or telepractice?

Telepractice is the use of telecommunication to provide speech pathology services to clients. The speech pathologist typically uses videoconferencing to administer client sessions in real-time but may utilise other formats, such as email, for related communication. Telepractice is sometimes referred to as telehealth, telerehabilitation, or telespeech.

What does a telepractice consultation involve?

A telepractice consultation usually involves some or all of the following:

  • Your speech pathologist will discuss your/your child’s health and your health history with you and, where appropriate, will offer information and advice.

  • If it is a therapy session, you may receive coaching and demonstration on how to perform hands-on therapy.

  • You may bring a support person with you, as you might in a face to face consultation.

  • If you attend a health service to participate in a telepractice consultation, other health professionals may be present and may need to examine you according to your speech pathologist’s instructions.

  • A technical support person might be present for part of the consultation to assist with technical issues.

  • You are not permitted to video or audio record the consultation, unless your speech pathologist gives you permission to do so.

What are the potential benefits of telepractice?

Telepractice might:

  • Improve access to speech pathology services

  • Reduce your need for travel

  • Decrease exposure to infectious disease

What are the potential risks of telepractice?

Telepractice might:

  • Be negatively impacted by technical problems, such as delays due to technology failures.

  • Not offer the same visual and sound quality for observations and modelling

  • Require someone onsite with you to support the speech pathologist

  • Not feel the same as an onsite session

  • Not achieve everything that is required and therefore require another telepractice consultation or a face to face consultation.

  • Include practices and procedures that are not as well understood in a telepractice setting as they are onsite

  • Increase exposure to privacy and digital security risks. (See next section.)

Will my privacy be protected?

This practice is subject to the Privacy Act 1988 and must comply with obligations related to the collection, use and disclosure of personal information, including through telepractice. The speech pathologist must maintain confidentiality and privacy standards during sessions, and in creating, keeping and transmitting records.

At times, audio and video recordings of sessions may be taken to support the speech pathologist’s work, as might occur in a face to face consultation. You will be informed before a recording takes place and can refuse to be recorded for any reason. The speech pathologist will inform you of the reason for the recording and how it will be stored.

While the speech pathologist is obligated to meet standards to protect your privacy and security, telecommunication, including videoconference, may increase exposure to hacking and other online risks; as with all online activities, there is no guarantee of complete privacy and security protection. You may decrease the risk by using a secure internet connection, meeting with the speech pathologist from a private location, and only communicating using secure channels.

How can I participate in telepractice sessions?

In order for you to particpate in telepractice sessions you need to sign a general consent to service as well as a consent form for telehealth provision. Refer to the forms page to complete these forms. 

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