Telespeech is also known as telespeech therapy, teletherapy, online speech therapy, and TELESLP. It is provided by a speech-language pathologist, or SLP, in one location to a patient in another location utilizing a high-speed Internet connection, web camera, and headset.
Shortages in the availability of SLPs are projected to increase over the next 10 years. As with most professions, earnings potential increases along with population. Because of this rural areas may find shortages of SLPs to be even more pronounced. Telespeech can help SLPs that live in rural areas who want to increase their patient pool and individuals in rural areas who have limited access to local SLPs.
According to the 2000 United State census (the last date figures are available on a national level) just over 20 percent of the population live in a rural area. While this may not seem like a large portion of the population, it encompasses almost 60 million people. Statistics vary by the type of disorder or delay, but if only 2 percent of that population needed speech therapy that would be more than 1 million patients in rural areas that could benefit from telespeech.
Benefits for Rural Therapists
Many people would like to live in a small town, perhaps their own hometown, yet feel the need to move to a more populated area in order to practice their chosen profession. While there may be a handful of patients who need speech therapy services in any given rural location, these few patients would not be enough to sustain a practice. Telespeech gives therapists the opportunity to live in remote locations and network with therapists, or therapy offices, across the country to expand their pool of patients. By offering their services online, they greatly increase their visibility and earnings potential.
Benefits for Rural Patients
Patients in rural areas have become accustomed to driving for hours to reach specialists. While this may be acceptable for an occasional broken bone or yearly exam it may be impossible to travel hours once or twice a week for speech therapy. The time required as well as the rising cost of fuel makes traveling extensive periods for therapy quite difficult. Having access to the same standard of care from their home is a huge boon for patients in rural areas. It reduces the overall time and financial cost of the therapy and would likely increase the amount of time a patient would be willing and able to devote to their therapy treatment.
Would you move to a rural area if you would still have a population base that could support your practice? How many of your patients drive more than an hour to receive your services? Do you think they would benefit from Telespeech?