Perspectives on use of a telehealth service-delivery model as a component of school-based occupational therapy practice: designing a "user experience"
Rortvedt, Daniel James
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Telehealth is “the application of evaluative, consultative, preventative, and therapeutic services delivered through telecommunication and information technologies,” (AOTA, 2014, p. S69). The evidence literature provides support for the use of a telehealth service-delivery model in occupational therapy (OT) practice within various settings. The use of telehealth in pediatric occupational therapy has been shown to be effective by increasing access to specialist care and preventing delays in provision of services (Cason, 2014), increasing collaboration and carry-over of treatment strategies (Gibbs & Toth-Cohen, 2011), and improving overall therapist/client satisfaction (Ashburner, 2016; Criss, 2013; Reifenberg, et al., 2017; Zylstra, 2013). Despite the effectiveness of a telehealth service-delivery model, the use of telehealth in occupational therapy practice is limited, potentially due to a lack of knowledge about telehealth. Education is a critical factor necessary to promote successful implementation of telehealth in clinical practice (Nissen & Brockevelt, 2016). In order to educate schoolbased working professionals, including OT practitioners and school district administrators, about the use of telehealth, an asynchronous, online educational program about the use of telehealth is proposed. A participatory action research model was used in the initial phase of the project. School-based occupational therapists, certified occupational therapy assistants, district administrators, and related technology staff were invited to complete a survey intended to explore attitudes about the use of telehealth. Results of the survey guided the formation and implementation of a client-centered program designed to educate participants about the potential benefits and barriers to the use of telehealth in a pediatric, school-based setting. Stakeholders were invited to complete the online educational program about telehealth and complete a post-program survey to reflect on any knowledge gained as a result of the course. This educational program addresses a gap in knowledge, experience, and awareness of telehealth among occupational therapy practitioners and school district stakeholders. Further collaboration between occupational therapy practitioners and researchers is needed to continue to explore potential uses of telehealth within a school-based setting.