One year ago, IDK noted how a speech and language telepractice solution in rural Minnesota, could benefit Irish children in resource teaching allocation.
Telepractice is “the application of telecommunications technology to deliver professional services at a distance by linking clinician to client, or clinician to clinician for assessment, intervention, and/or consultation” (ASHA, 2004).
Here are three ways in which the HSE can use telepractice in Ireland to achieve annual cost-savings and deliver quality speech therapy, audiology and cochlear implant mapping services while maximising human resources.
1. Telepractice For Speech Teaching
Speech-therapy services in Ireland are presently limited by HSE hiring caps and other constraints. A national shortage of speech therapy in Ireland has resulted, with teachers spending valuable time travelling to rural areas.
Delivering speech therapy services in Ireland via a national telepractice system, would free speech-teachers to work with deaf and hard-of-hearing children from early on, while benefiting the childrens’ computer skills.
2. Remote Hearing Tests For Babies
A pilot of a remote newborn hearing test, was initiated in late 2011 between the University of Colorado and the Pacific island of Guam. Within Ireland, a national telepractice system could do similar tests, reducing travel time and expense for the families and the respective medical/administrative staff.
3. Remote Mapping And Analysis of Cochlear Implants
In Australia, cochlear implants can be remotely mapped and analysed over a secure internet link. With this solution, clients in rural populations globally, no longer need to travel long distances for cochlear implant mapping.
National Telepractice Co-Ordination Initiative
A solid case exists for establishing national telepractice initiatives in Ireland, to deliver clinical processes for efficient, national service provision.
Telepractice benefits for the deaf sector include:
- Simpler administration, less duplication of paperwork and processes
- Centralised service delivery from one location, with related benefits
- Increased speech-therapy for students (individual or group lessons)
- Less need for parents to travel for speech and/or audiology services
Telepractice offers endless opportunities for very low-cost, effective and sustainable service delivery to relevant populations, and is an area to watch.
(compiled by Nicola Fox and Caroline Carswell)