The Massachusetts Online Resource Education for Early Intervention (MORE EI) telehealth training program for occupational therapists
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Early childhood is a critical period of development. During this critical period, children under age three with developmental delays or who have been diagnosed with a disability in rural areas of the United States are having difficulty obtaining early intervention (EI) occupational therapy (OT) services they qualify for under Part C of IDEA (Cason, 2009; IDEA, 2004). Generally, the root of the problem in rural communities arises from limited access to services, provider shortages, and increased cost of providing services (Baharav & Reiser, 2010; Behl et al., 2017; Blaiser, Behl, Callow-Heusser, & White, 2013; Cason, 2009; Ciccia, Whitford, Krumm, & McNeal, 2011; Havenga, Swanepoel, Roux, & Schmid., 2015; Heimerl & Rasch, 2009; Molini-Avejonas, Rondon-Melo, Amato, & Samelli, 2015; Olsen, Fiechtl, & Rule, 2012; Taylor, Armfield, Dodrill, & Smith, 2014). Rural communities in Massachusetts are facing similar challenges. The aim of this doctoral project was to better understand the barriers to providing EI services in rural areas as well as explore an evidence-based solution to this problem. Through a review of the literature, it was found that telehealth is a viable service delivery model to address barriers to providing EI OT services in rural areas. (Baharav & Reiser, 2010; Behl et al., 2017; Blaiser et al., 2013; Cason, 2009; Ciccia et al., 2011; Havenga et al., 2015; Heimerl & Rasch, 2009; Molini-Avejonas et al., 2015; Olsen et al., 2012; Taylor et al., 2014). Since each state has different policies and challenges confronting the implementation of EI telehealth, state-specific EI telehealth training programs are needed to help develop and promote the use of EI OT telehealth delivery service models (Blaiser et al., 2015; Cole et al., 2016). The Massachusetts Online Resource Education for Early Intervention (MORE EI) Telehealth Training Program are self-paced videos aimed to increased MA provider knowledge and confidence with the use of telehealth as well as encourage advocacy for reimbursement and acceptance of EI OT telehealth as a viable service delivery model in MA.