Thanks to Marissa for sharing this innovative use of technology for therapy with us today! Marissa A. Barrera, MS, MPhil, MSCS, TSHH, CCC-SLP is the owner of New York Neurogenic Speech-Language Pathology, P.C., a licensed Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) and Professor of Acquired Motor Speech & Swallowing Disorders. With private practices located in Midtown and on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, Marissa and her team of SLPs feel privileged to provide therapeutic services to hundreds of patients each year. A graduate of Columbia University, she has earned an MS, MPhil, and a Multiple Sclerosis Certified Specialist certification (MSCS) while working towards her PhD in Neurolinguistics (language science). In short, Marissa is proud to be a part of the WebPT community and hopes to help you foster optimal speech and language development in your patients!

In honor of this month in which Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs) all over the country join together to spread the word of awareness, I thought it would be appropriate to share with you a way for you to grow your practice, help more individuals in need, all the while reducing your practice’s operation costs.

Living in a world where companies are no longer confined to conducting business within a local radius, globalization affords businesses the opportunity to work without boundaries. Although historically Speech-Language Pathologists have always treated their patients within an arm’s reach, in this modern, global market we now too have the opportunity to help patients well outside of our immediate geographic area.

To own a speech-language pathology private practice in the past meant you had to feverishly market yourself to local doctors, psychologists, social workers, PTs, OTs, schools and neighborhood families. In the event that there were multiple practices within close proximity, you had to work twice as hard just in order to maintain a presence in the local market. If the practice model I’ve just described sounds like YOUR current business, then perhaps it is time for you to branch out and consider providing web-based speech and language therapy. If you are tired of participating in the referral rat race, wanting to expand your revenue sources, and are genuinely interested in helping as many individuals as possible, I encourage you to take a moment to peruse the basic facts and some unique benefits to administering web-based therapy.

1.  Frequently used terms: Web-based therapy is referred to in various ways. You may come across some of the following terms: telehealth, Skype therapy, telepractice and telerehabilitation.

2.  Software: Computer software such as Skype, LogMeIn, and GoToMeeting offer an affordable medium for you to remotely connect with your patients. All three of the software listed allow you to share your computer screen so both you and your patient can view worksheets, exercises, handouts and visuals just as if they were sitting along side you. 

3.  Scheduling: Being able to provide therapeutic services while your patients are home, at their office, or out-of-town allows for scheduling flexibility, which may lead to an increased number of appointments and fewer cancellations. Patients who may typically not be available to schedule appointments until after work or while away on business can now receive treatment while on their lunch break or while traveling for work or pleasure.

4.  Cost Savings: For therapists who rent treatment rooms on an hourly or daily basis, web-based therapy can offer a tremendous cost savings. If you are able to provide speech and language therapy from your home, it eliminates the need and cost for renting a separate space. Lets not forget to mention that with the rising prices of gas and mass transit fares, eliminating traveling for both the patient and the clinician is mutually beneficial.

5.  Treatment Efficiency: If you are concerned that administering treatment in a distance-based modality will interfere with your patient’s therapeutic outcomes, then consider reading an “Overview of Telehealth Activities in Speech–Language Pathology” written by Pauline A. Mashima and Charles R. Doarn appearing in Telemedicine and e-Health. Yes, it is important you must carefully consider each patient’s candidacy prior to administer web-based therapy (see Patient Candidacy for additional details) however, research studies examining the application of ‘telehealth’ to all areas of speech-language pathology (dysarthria, apraxia, aphasia, articulation, fluency, swallowing and cognitive rehabilitation) currently exist (see the Appendix of Mashima & Doarn).

6.  Reaching the Unreachable: Given our country’s ever-growing population of disabled Americans and senior citizens, utilizing telehealth allows SLPs to provide quality, therapeutic services across the country.

7. Patient Candidacy: Some important patient characteristics to consider when treating patients via the web is 1) focus, 2) motivation to improve, 3) reliability, 4) willingness, and 5) dedication to the treatment. Patients will only see improvements if they are committed to participating in their treatment sessions and consistently complete their home exercise program. 

8.  Niche or Expertise:If you have a clinical expertise or a particular set of specialized skills, by expanding your practice to include web-based services you can now broaden the marketing of your expertise regardless of proximity.

9.  Legalities: Here are some important rules to remember when considering adding web-based therapy to your private practice.

  • You can only provide telepractice if you’re licensed in the state where the patient lives. For more information on this topic please consult ASHA’s website concerning telepractice.
  • HIPAA requires all electronic health care transactions to be secure in order to protect patient privacy. Given the importance of maintaining HIPAA compliance, it is exciting to learn that video calls made via FaceTime on Apple devices such as iPhones and iPads are in fact HIPPA compliant! For clinicians who do not use Apple devices, in order to be fully HIPAA compliant SLPs must have wireless connection that utilizes WPA2 Enterprise security with 128-bit AES.  This security protocol was created in order to safeguard the information that goes both in and out of your computer.  For more information about the use of FaceTime and HIPAA, Barbara Fernandes, aka the GeekSLP describes the details surrounding the use of FaceTime in her article “FaceTime calls on iPad are HIPAA compliant” at her website

10.  Equipment: Before beginning web-based speech therapy, it is important to remember that all video call/conferencing software relies on the quality of computers, networks and the strength of the internet connections. Over the past 5 years, the internet has become more robust and reliable, but even with the best infrastructure in place, sometimes technology can interfere with service delivery. It is important to know how to troubleshoot, as well as when it is best to stop and reschedule a session. Overtime, your skills for problem solving and troubleshooting the technology associated with web-based therapy will improve.  

In lieu of Better Speech and Hearing Month, if you have ever considered including web-based speech therapy to your service delivery model, I hope this informational article provides you with the tools necessary to start expanding your business!

Is PT Valuable? Why Outcomes Data is the Proof We Need - Regular BannerIs PT Valuable? Why Outcomes Data is the Proof We Need - Small Banner
  • The State of Rehab Therapy in 2017 Image

    webinarJun 5, 2017

    The State of Rehab Therapy in 2017

    WebPT recently conducted an industry survey of thousands of rehab therapy professionals across a wide variety of settings, specialties, and geographic regions. Our goal: To capture an accurate snapshot of the demographics, trends, frustrations, and motivations that shape our businesses, our future outlook, and our potential for success in this environment of change. In our July webinar, WebPT president and co-founder Dr. Heidi Jannenga, PT, DPT, ATC/L, and WebPT CEO Nancy Ham will share and analyze the …

  • The State of Rehab Therapy Image

    downloadJul 14, 2017

    The State of Rehab Therapy

    To see results from our most recent industry survey, check out the 2018 State of Rehab Therapy Report. Health care is not a static industry. It’s always changing, evolving, and progressing. No healthcare provider is immune to the effects of that change, but some—including physical, occupational, and speech therapists—have felt a greater impact than others. In an effort to assess the scope of that impact—and thus, better anticipate the future needs of the rehab therapy community—WebPT conducted …

  • Common Questions from our State of Rehab Therapy Webinar Image

    articleJul 17, 2017 | 16 min. read

    Common Questions from our State of Rehab Therapy Webinar

    WebPT recently conducted an industry survey of thousands of rehab therapy professionals across a wide variety of settings, specialties, and geographic regions. Our goal: To capture an accurate snapshot of the demographics, trends, frustrations, and motivations that shape our businesses, our future outlook, and our potential for success in this environment of change. In last week’s webinar , WebPT President and Co-Founder Dr. Heidi Jannenga, PT, DPT, ATC/L, and WebPT CEO Nancy Ham shared the results of …

  • 4 Tips for Implementing an EMR System Image

    articleJan 5, 2015 | 5 min. read

    4 Tips for Implementing an EMR System

    Preparing to implement an EMR system within your practice? Then you’re undoubtedly experiencing some anxiety. After all, it’s quite the change from the pen and pad of paper so many therapists have been using for decades—like, since mullets were cool. And even if you’re starting fresh with a new practice and EMR is all you’ve ever known, the pressure is still on to get this implementation right. Here are our tips for implementing an EMR with ease: …

  • The State of Rehab Therapy in 2018 Image

    downloadJun 28, 2018

    The State of Rehab Therapy in 2018

    To say that the healthcare industry is complex would be an understatement. While the advent of technology has made care more precise, efficient, and collaborative than ever before, it has also put greater pressure on providers to deliver high-value care at scale. After all, big data makes it possible to not only develop the most effective, evidence-based best practices for individual diagnoses, but also form evidence-based strategies for managing the health of populations. In the spirit of …

  • The State of Rehab Therapy in 2019 Image

    downloadJun 17, 2019

    The State of Rehab Therapy in 2019

    Each year, we survey thousands of rehab therapy professionals on the metrics, strategies, and complicating factors that influence success in the current healthcare market. In 2019, we received more than 6,000 responses from individuals in a variety of settings, specialties, and geographic regions—and we’ve compiled all that data into the single most comprehensive annual report on the state of the rehab therapy industry.  This report features insights on everything from demographics and financial metrics to regulatory challenges …

  • Best-of-Breed Solutions vs. Jack-of-All-Trades Software Image

    articleJan 7, 2015 | 5 min. read

    Best-of-Breed Solutions vs. Jack-of-All-Trades Software

    After nearly ten years in sales and marketing, I’ve heard—and probably used—every figure of speech imaginable. Whether we’re advising to not count your chickens before they hatch or imploring that you not cry over spilled milk, we use these phrases to succinctly make our points. Perhaps that’s why we’re seeing a debate unfold in our industry pitting “best-of-breed” solutions against “jack-of-all-trades” software. And with our very own Heidi Jannenga deeming 2015 as “ the year of the …

  • What Happens if Your Physical Therapy Software Goes Out of Business? Image

    articleJul 15, 2016 | 7 min. read

    What Happens if Your Physical Therapy Software Goes Out of Business?

    You’ve most likely heard the news: PTOS is going out of business. That means that in a few short months, PTOS customers will be left without a physical therapy practice management and billing software solution, so they’ve got to find new systems—stat . After all, no one wants to lose all of their valuable patient and business data—nor do they want to wait until the last minute to find a replacement. Shopping for a PTOS alternative, partnering with …

  • articleOct 11, 2012 | 4 min. read

    What Can Your EMR Do for You Beyond Documentation?

    Today’s blog post comes from copywriters Charlotte Bohnett and Erica Cohen. Earlier this week we tackled four reasons your practice should ditch paper documentation and go digital with Electronic Medical Records (EMR). At this point, you've either already made the switch or you’ve probably at least made up your mind to go digital soon. No matter what stage you’re in, we all know that EMR is an investment, and you might be wondering how to get the …

Achieve greatness in practice with the ultimate EMR for PTs, OTs, and SLPs.