TeleHealth: Benefits and Value to Our Families

April 23, 2020 10:10 am Published by Leave your thoughts

Telehealth

BCOTB has always had one mission and goal to our clients and to their families: to provide the highest quality ABA (applied behavior analysis) therapy services to improve the lives of children with autism by bringing about meaningful and positive changes in behavior. Amid the recent COVID-19 pandemic, we continue to hold that mission close to our hearts and prioritize providing those impactful services. As our families are aware, recent federal and state mandates have been implemented to decrease the spread of COVID-19 but unfortunately, the majority of our daily routines have been uprooted for an indefinite amount of time. Fortunately, as an essential business, BCOTB remains open to our families to help minimize the risks of ABA service interruptions and to bring a sense of normalcy back into the daily lives of our clients. To continue services, our clinics have remained open while abiding by the legal number of persons allowed in a specific area and our therapists have been traveling in-home! Additionally, BCOTB offers therapy services via TeleHealth and this blog post seeks to inform our clients and their families about the benefits and value that TeleHealth has regarding the continuation of services.

What is TeleHealth?

As recently mentioned in a previous BCOTB blog post, TeleHealth is a means by which ABA services are delivered through a predetermined, secure web portal. How does this differ from TeleMedicine? There are many similarities between TeleHealth and TeleMedicine, but the main takeaway is that TeleHealth represents a broader scope of remote healthcare services than TeleMedicine. Think of TeleMedicine as your standard doctor’s appointments including visits, consultations, and follow-ups, just conducted through a video interface. TeleHealth, on the other hand, refers to all of the aforementioned services, but also includes remote non-clinical services, such as provider training.

To provide TeleHealth services, our families would need a device that has Wi-Fi access, a camera, and a microphone—that’s it!

What are the Benefits of TeleHealth?

1. Remote Access to Services – TeleHealth services can be conducted wherever our families feel comfortable and available services span a wide range!
2. Just How Wide of a Range? – Our range of services provided match the range of services needed by our clients. Services provided via TeleHealth may include, but are not limited to, academic skills, behavioral skills, feeding therapy, and toileting training. Our therapists do their best to mimic their in-clinic therapy session within the home environment and will strive to do the same via TeleHealth.
3. Parent Training – Remember how it was mentioned that TeleHealth is a broad scope of healthcare services? In addition to our therapists providing 1:1 ABA therapy, TeleHealth allows our therapists to provide parents and caregivers with the training necessary to help their learners with tasks, such as activities of daily living (e.g. grooming, dressing, preparing meals).

Is TeleHealth Effective?

Yes! ABA prides itself on utilizing “evidence-based” practices. According to our ABA bible, Cooper et al. (2007) define “evidence-based” practices as treatments or interventions, which have been deemed “effective” based on substantial, high-quality research. Basically, we ensure that practices done at BCOTB are chosen because they have been scientifically proven to be effective, not chosen willy-nilly!

A recent study in 2015 demonstrated that TeleHealth was an effective platform for conducting sessions to improve parent training and increasing both parent’s knowledge and implementation skills! Imagine having the training and skills to help your little ones feel that much more independent in their daily lives, knowing that all of these practices are scientifically proven to be effective AND you didn’t even have to leave your home (as if you really had the choice to leave your home these days)!

Why Should I Choose TeleHealth?

At this time, an obvious reason is the health and safety of our clients, caregivers, and staff. While the COVID-19 threat has been strong and challenged our daily lives, the love and commitment for our learners is much stronger. TeleHealth allows our staff to provide remote, direct training to parents and caregivers so that each learner’s individualized treatment plan is run consistently and correctly. TeleHealth is especially helpful for those families who may have family members who are immune-deficient or would just prefer to minimize the traffic coming in and out of the home.

It is our goal at BCOTB to prioritize the continuation of ABA services for all of our clients to reduce the main risks associated with an interruption of services: skill regression and increased problem behavior. ABA therapy has also become a large part of our learners’ daily routines and for some of our learners, a major change in routine may cause some difficult situations to arise for all parties involved.

A small interruption in services, such as a family vacation (ahh, remember those days?) or mild illness, usually pose little threat to academic and behavior skills learned; however, when an interruption in services is indefinite, it is our strong suggestion for clients and families to continue receiving services.

As always, we at BCOTB promote the health and safety of those involved and TeleHealth is an effective, safe method of providing these crucial services to our beneficiaries. Parents, caregivers, therapists, and stakeholders alike do their best to ensure that our learners retain the skills learned within the clinic environment and it is a defining characteristic of ABA to make the commitment to enhance and improve our learner’s lives and make a significant change.

References:

Cooper, J. O., Heron, T. E., & Heward, W. L. (2007). Applied behavior analysis (2nd
ed.). Columbus, OH: Merrill Prentice Hall.

COVID Services. (2020, April 7). BCOTB The Blog. Retrieved April 22, 2020. Retrieved
from: https://bcotb.com/covid-services/

Ferguson, J., Craig, E.A., and Dounavi, K. (2019). Telehealth as a model for providing
behavior analytic interventions to individuals with autism spectrum
disorder: A systematic review. Journal of Autism And Developmental
Disorders, 49, 582-616. doi:10.007s10803-018-3724-5

What is telehealth? How is telehealth different from telemedicine? (2019, October
17). Retrieved from: https://www.healthit.gov

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