- What is telepractice and how can it be delivered?
- How does telepractice benefit clients and services?
Telepractice is the use of telecommunications to deliver parenting support and other services remotely. It draws upon experiences in the delivery of telehealth and can include synchronous (e.g. virtual home visits) and asynchronous (e.g. email, text) approaches.
We use the term telepractice rather than telehealth to avoid the perception that these modes of service delivery are restricted to healthcare settings. Other commonly used terms in health care include eHealth (referring to the use of internet technology) and mHealth (encompassing mobile and app technologies).
Modes of telepractice can be categorised as:
Synchronous (interactive): in which services are delivered in real time with an individual or group of clients, for example through:
- telephone consultations and support lines
- videoconferencing or webinar technology
- internet chatroom platforms
Asynchronous: where information or advice is shared over time with clients or digital conversations occur, for example by:
- email and text messaging
- social media platforms
- digital delivery of guided self-help content where online materials such as reading or videos are supplemented by practitioner contact via email, phone or video conferencing.
- Neither participant nor practitioner needs to travel, which leads to time and cost savings. This is particularly beneficial for those with mobility impairments or other health complications.
- It reduces inconvenience for those who are supporting participants – such as carers, family members and parents – in relation to time, travel and work commitments.
Increased participant choice and preference
- Telepractice can help to reduce feelings of stigma involved in visiting a therapist or receiving home visits.
- Participants who feel uncomfortable or self-conscious in a face-to-face situation may find it easier to build a trusting relationship with a practitioner.
- Telepractice can increase participants’ independence and sense of control; for example, participants have more choice over the environment for support sessions (e.g. home, workplace) and can fit sessions around their day.
Increased service reach
- With telepractice, services can extend support beyond office hours (also increasing convenience for participants).
- Services can cross geographic boundaries, particularly beneficial to rural and regional areas where access to a wide range of skilled practitioners can be limited.
- Services can support more participants as a result of these and the logistical benefits.
Increased service flexibility and quality
- Improved logistics and flexibility enable increased flexibility and responsiveness to workforce needs.
- For services that are traditionally offered at the service location (not in the home), telepractice enables practitioners to assess and support participants in their natural environment.
- Practitioners are better able to offer shared care, consultation and collaboration with specialists – a benefit for rural and remote areas in particular.
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Supported by the Victorian Government Department of Department of Health and Human Services.