Telepractice Pilot Speech Therapy Program

Providing Access to Excellent Treatment at the Craniofacial Center

Telepractice: "The application of telecommunications technology to deliver of speech language pathology and audiology professional services at a distance by linking clinician to client or clinician to clinician for assessment, intervention, and/or consultation." ASHA Position 2005

Research has found that patients make progress with the telepractice delivery model. Children respond well and are motivated to use technology. This technology facilitates access to service for our patients who travel long distances or do not have access to transportation. It also facilitates collaboration between service providers at the Craniofacial Center and community based clinicians to promote carry over; therefore telepractice is an excellent addition to our patient care model at the University of Illinois Hospital/Craniofacial Center.

Preparations are underway to establish a new telepractice site in an Illinois high school. Ellyn McNamara, M.S.,CCC-SLP of the Craniofacial Center at the University of Illinois and a school based speech pathologist have collaborated to facilitate the provision of skilled speech therapy via telepractice technology.

A teenage patient of the Center born with a cleft palate repaired out of the country was selected for pilot speech therapy. The patient is a sequential bilingual with a severe speech sound disorder negatively impacting speech intelligibility and overall communication in both languages.

  • Patient is unable to attend regular speech therapy sessions at the Craniofacial Center due to traveling distance, school schedule and parental work schedule.
  • School based speech pathologist has limited experience working with individuals with craniofacial condition, and is eager to provide excellent services to maximize learning.

The first pilot session is scheduled from January 2015 with plans to meet every Friday for thirty minute sessions between the patient, the school based speech pathologist and the Craniofacial Center speech pathologist. Service delivery will be provided using Cisco’s WebEx video conferencing technology. Both clinicians and patient need to wear headphones with built in microphone to ensure the best audio quality. An external and internal webcam will be utilized for video.

Current challenges:

  • Scheduling across medical and educational environments
  • Reimbursement of services
  • State/UIC regulations
  • Privacy and confidentiality issues

Despite these challenges, it appears that telepractice speech therapy will be beneficial in further expanding our service delivery and patient care programs at University of Illinois Hospital/Craniofacial Center.