In this era of social distancing and isolation, it is challenging to maintain your child’s progress toward their therapy goals. However, thanks to technology, this does not have to be the case! Telehealth is now an option that allows therapists and children to connect virtually to continue working on their progress. But what is telehealth, really? What does a session look like? Can goals really be met? Will it be covered by insurance? Find these answers and more below.
What is telehealth?
Telehealth refers to the delivery of medical services through a technology platform, and applies to all medical disciplines. Here, we are referring to occupational and physical therapy services using technology. Although telehealth takes many forms, in the case of our pediatric occupational and physical therapy services, we will be discussing the use of live video. This type of therapy delivery has been used for years to bring services to children who may not otherwise have access (such as those in rural areas with therapist shortages). However, it is now being used on a much larger scale to help ensure continued access to services while following CDC guidelines around social distancing during the COVID-19 outbreak.
What does a session look like? Can goals really be met?
There are a wide variety of telehealth platforms out there with various features. All of them will consist of some sort of live two-way video interface, similar to Facetime or Skype. Platforms designed specifically for healthcare feature encrypted secure connections and are fully HIPAA-compliant. In any case, you will receive a login link to your appointment. When it is your scheduled time, simply click the link, login to the platform with the password, and make sure your volume is turned up. You can check your camera and microphone ahead of time. The therapist will join the call and you’ll be able to see them on video. As with traditional therapy, each session will be filled with activities that were carefully designed by the therapist to address your child’s specific needs.
We always encourage as much parent involvement as possible in our clients’ therapy sessions in the clinic, as we have found that this maximizes the child’s progress. This is no different in telehealth sessions, and in fact parent coaching plays a greater role. It is most beneficial for children to have a parent with them during their session. The therapist may coach you how to assist the child in completing an activity, or problem solve a concern with you. Not only does this help during the session, but it provides parents with the opportunity to learn strategies that can be carried over in everyday life, outside of therapy sessions.
Telehealth allows easy, convenient access to our clinical knowledge and skilled intervention, and you might even discover that your child progresses more quickly when therapy is done at home via telehealth.
Will it be covered by insurance?
As with all insurance questions, the answer to this one is: it depends. Insurance regulations regarding telehealth are changing daily, in an effort to lessen the spread of the coronavirus while continuing access to healthcare. Many insurers are covering more telehealth services than previously, and some are even waiving copays for all telehealth services during the crisis. However, this is still dependent on each insurer and each plan. We are happy to assist you in determining whether or not your insurer will cover telehealth with us at this time.