By Erica Zollman, M.Ed., CCC-SLP
What is telepractice?
Telepractice is delivering speech/language therapy
using technology when the service provider (speech-language pathologist) is
in a different location than the client. Other names for telepractice include
telespeech, teleaudiology, speech teletherapy, or telerehabilitation. Clinicians
report using telepractice to address multiple speech and language disorders,
including articulation disorders, autism, dysarthria, language disorders, cognitive
disorders, dysphagia, and voice disorders (American Speech Language-Hearing
What are the benefits of using telepractice?
In many areas, there is a shortage of speech-language pathologists (SLPs) to provide services both
in school systems and medical facilities. Telepractice “offers the potential to deliver services in underserved
and remote/rural geographic areas where they are not available and in areas with shortages of specialists”
(Mashima & Doarn, 2008, p. 1106). Mashima and Doarn also found that telepractice can increase the
efficiency and cost effectiveness of treatment while providing homebound patients with appropriate
therapy (2008, p. 1106).
Clinicians report several benefits of using telepractice. Geurin and Marion-Wilson report that
students made adequate progress on IEP goals and objectives when using telepractice. Additionally,
they report that adolescents find the technology motivating and frequently prefer telepractice to more
traditional speech therapy services (2013).
How does telepractice work?
Telepractice speech/language services utilize a variety of technology. Smartphones, tablets, desktop
computers, laptop computers, and business class video conferencing tools connect speech-language
pathologists and clients (Guerin S., Marion-Wilson., T., 2013).
Telepractice speech therapy sessions fall into two categories: synchronous or asynchronous.
Synchronous telepractice occurs in real-time and closely resembles video chat; the SLP and client interact
to share audio, video, data, and images. In an asynchronous telepractice, SLPs and clients record and store
audio, video, data and/or images, and then forward the stored data for viewing without any real-time
interaction (American Speech-Language Hearing Association, 2010).
Will patients receive the same quality of service?
Regardless of the service delivery model (telepractice or face-to-face), SLPs must comply with the
American Speech-Language Hearing Association’s (ASHA) standards, code of ethics, roles, responsibilities,
and preferred practice patterns (American Speech-Language Hearing Association, 2010).
Where do telepractice services occur?
Anywhere! Telepractice takes place in schools, medical centers, child-care centers, outpatient clinics,
and corporate settings. In many cases, a trained facilitator must be present with the client during therapy
sessions (American Speech-Language Hearing Association, 2010).
Who is a good candidate for telepractice?
Telepractice is not appropriate for all situations. Clinicians must carefully consider a client’s physical
and sensory characteristics, cognitive functioning, behavior, communication skills, and level of support
prior to initiation services (“Telepractice,” n.d).
What about licensure?
Each state governs its regulations of telepractice. ASHA advises that
telepractitioners must be licensed in their home state and in the states in which their
clients/patients reside. “Clinicians should verify licensure requirements and policies
regarding telepractice, both in the states where they are licensed and where they wish to
telepractice, prior to initiating services” (“Telepractice,” n.d.). SLPs should closely review
state laws and policy, as not all states allow speech-language pathologists to provide
services via telepractice.
How do clinicians receive reimbursement?
Reimbursement varies by agency and state, so clinicians should verify individual policies prior to
beginning telepractice. Currently, SLPs may not bill Medicare for telepractice. Because Medicaid varies
from state to state, clinicians should verify reimbursement with the respective state’s Medicaid office
Is telepractice private and secure?
Clinicians providing telepractice services must adhere to the same regulations as those who are
providing face-to-face services. Providers must comply with HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and
Accountability Act) regulations when choosing technology to use for telepractice, and take steps to ensure
that the privacy of a client’s protected health information remains secure (American Speech-Language
Hearing Association, 2010).
American Speech-Language Hearing Association. (2010). Professional Issues in Telepractice for Speech-Language Pathologists
[Professional Issues Statement]. Available from www.asha.org/policy
Geurin, S., & Marion-Wilson, T. (2013) Reaching Adolescents through Telepractice. Presented at Annual Conference for the American-
Speech, Language, and Hearing Association, Chicago.
Mashima, P., & Doarn, C. (2008). Overview of telehealth activities in speech-language pathology. Telemedicine and e-Health, 14(10),