It isn’t the size of the gift that matters, but the size of the heart that gives it.
~Quoted in The Angels’ Little Instruction Book
by Eileen Elias Freeman, 1994
This month, TinyEYE is celebrating 15 000 on-line speech therapy sessions. What feels wonderful about this milestone is that we serve children who would not receive services without telepractice. This moment coincides with our launch of version three of our software. TinyEYE’s in-house software team has worked daily with our SLPs and schools to advance the performance, function, and fun of our on-line services. Beyond simply high speed internet, a web cam, and a computer; TinyEYE has developed key parameters for success to provide quality connections. We are eagerly advocating for our world’s bandwidth to advance along with the capacity of our software.
Telepractice is a gift to parents. For example, Telepractice reaches families who live in remote or rural communities – a home that reflects their language, culture, and lifestyle. SLPs use telepractice to support their children, enrich childcare centers and schools, and build capacity in these communities.
Telepractice is a gift to schools. For example, Telepractice reaches teachers who work in large communities and have classrooms full of diverse students with a variety of needs and languages. SLPs use telepractice to supervise support staff, consult with teachers, and provide student-focused therapy services that keep parents and educators informed and empowered. Schools value that telepractice provides incredibly productive, budget friendly service that promotes their students’ achievement.
Telepractice is a gift to the people we serve. For example, telepractice reaches adults, especially those who struggle to drive to the city regular appointments that are so essential during rehabilitation. Telepractice reaches children – children who are a gift themselves – they just need one of us to help unwrap their potential. Our students become experts – we grow smiles, mend spirits, and engage children in their lives.
Telepractice is a gift to SLPs. For example, telepractice connects SLPs, who want to serve, with children who need support. TinyEYE suggests that there is not necessarily a shortage of SLPs, but a shortage of SLPs who are reaching the need. Our specialized SLPs include a number of talented people who would not be working outside of telepractice. Some have physical limitations that prevent driving, long work days, or running up and down hallways. Some are parents who cannot commit to an unpredictable commute and heavy workload. Some retired after decades of service, yet want to continue to serve. Others are simply fascinated by how they can make an incredible difference to the children they serve, while enjoying the balance and enthusiasm that comes from serving through their virtual office. There is no need to move to a different community to have a rewarding career. One of our valued team members shared her thoughts about providing services using our on-line software:
After years of (SLP) school and feeling rushed and feeling like I didn’t have time for my (own) children, you know how excited I am to do this. Again thanks for seeing this need for us and for the children who otherwise wouldn’t get services. ~Sandy
Telepractice is a gift to our profession. For example, telepractice brings colleagues together for growth and support. Telepractice enables us to provide quality mentorship so that more graduates can begin their careers in locations where another SLP does not reside. Telepractice is a medium for supervising support staff and building capacity in schools. Ultimately, telepractice improves access to quality speech therapy services.
Remaining barriers to service include preventative legislation and reimbursement limitations. As regions update their positions on telepractice, it is imperative that the speech-language pathologists are empowered to make informed decisions for serving their students. Restrictions, such as visiting the student at the same location every fourth visit, only serve to prevent service. Remember, people who receive care through telepractice often do not have cost-effective access to same location services. Likewise, reimbursement for services received through telepractice should equal the reimbursement for same location service. If you think you can have no impact, think of the staff at Waldo County General Hospital’s Voice and Swallowing Center of Maine (Belfast). While trying to provide voice treatment for patients traveling long distances, they applied their frustration to inspire the Maine’s bill as summarized below:
- A health plan may not deny coverage for health care services provided through telepractice if those services would be covered by the carrier if they were provided in person
- Coverage for telepractice must be consistent with coverage for health care services provided in person
- Health insurance companies must cover health care services provided by telepractice (Jan. 1, 2010)
- Insurance companies in Maine “may not deny coverage on the basis that the coverage is provided through telemedicine if the health care service would be provided through in-person consultation.”
TinyEYE continues to offer school-based SLPs the gift of a free on-line backpack that includes over eighty on-line, interactive speech and language games. If you would like your own virtual backpack, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org .
All the best to you,
Marnee Brick, MSc
Speech-Language Pathologist and Director of Speech Therapy
TinyEYE Therapy Services (Speech Therapy Telepractice)
Growing smiles, mending spirits, engaging children in their lives