Despite the uncertain circumstances that led a lot of practitioners to use telehealth, many are making the transition to a full-time telepractice permanent. Telehealth has actually removed a lot of barriers to care and has given many clients greater access to all kinds of therapy—including speech therapy.
Virtual sessions offer both practitioners and clients a lot of benefits, which is causing even skeptical practitioners to seriously consider a permanent transition. Some speech-language pathologists are also adopting a “hybrid model” that incorporates both remote and in-person sessions.
These seismic changes to our personal and professional lives have had a profound impact on your service delivery in particular. Speech-language pathologists in private practice have had to pivot to a completely new type of service delivery with almost no preparation time.
As we continue to navigate virtual care in today’s world, here’s what you should keep in mind when considering the future of your practice.
Make the Transition to Telehealth Permanent
If you haven’t already, you should fully embrace telehealth as a practical and sustainable service option—and help your clients do the same. Be sure to refer to telehealth in the same terms as any other service you offer your clients.
Don’t downplay telehealth by calling in-person therapy “real therapy” or by charging a reduced rate for virtual sessions. If you present telehealth as a valid solution just like in-person care, it’ll be easier for your clients to make the switch with confidence. Make it clear that telehealth isn’t just a stop-gap measure. It’s a viable long-term option.
Add a section to your website to highlight your virtual services. As you start to do more virtual sessions, do what you can to make the transition for your clients as smooth as possible. SimplePractice has a library full of resources to explain telehealth and make the switch easier for both you and your clients.
As the landscape of care changes, so does the insurance landscape. A few national insurance companies—including Medicare—have made their quarantine-era teletherapy coverage permanent. And the hope is that these changes will expand to all insurance plans in the future. Make sure you keep up with any changes to insurance regulation, so you can answer any questions your clients may have.
Make Digital Connections with Referral Sources
Just as we’ve moved our practices online, we need to update our referral and marketing materials to be online, too. Paper materials like brochures and postcards are still helpful, but a fillable referral form makes everything easier for referral sources and potential clients. And that means that they’ll refer to you more often.
My usual referral sources of doctor’s offices and daycares aren’t allowing anyone but parents into their waiting rooms yet. But that doesn’t mean that I’m out of options for marketing.
Rather than setting up a rack of milestones and speech development cards in the waiting room, now I ask referral sources to include me in their digital communication to parents. A blurb in an email newsletter with the same information is just as effective.
You should still call and ask to set up an appointment with the referral coordinator at any office you’re interested in collaborating with. A phone call or virtual meeting works just as well as an in-person meeting—and you may discover an untapped source of referrals.
Amplify Your Internet Presence
When you’re updating your website to reflect your transition to telehealth, make that information easy to find. This’ll help your website’s SEO and make your marketing more effective.
Now that clients are more comfortable with virtual healthcare, they’ve started to actively seek out teletherapy services. A website that clearly highlights your telehealth services will give you an advantage over competitors who don’t promote virtual care on their websites.
Speech-language pathologists are masters at adapting to clients’ needs, practice requirements, and new methods to provide the best care possible. I know that we won’t only adapt to this change but capitalize on it and thrive, while maintaining top-quality client care.