As reported by The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “there is a considerable national shortage of Speech Language Pathologists (SLPs) projected over next few years. An additional 28,800 SLPs will be needed to fill the demand between 2010 and 2020—a 23% increase in job openings.”
As a result of the worsening national shortage, schools are increasingly unable to provide sorely needed SLPs adequately. Inflated costs press upon overstrained budgets, and school personnel is forced to devote inordinate amounts of time and effort hunting down scarce resources.
Not Enough Money
Let’s suppose for a moment that there was no SLP shortage. Let’s even imagine that there was a healthy surplus. Would that make the problem disappear? The answer is no! That’s because of an equally imposing hurdle– money, or not enough of it.
Aside from budget shortfalls, there are the higher recruitment fees charged by staffing agencies to find “distant and elusive” SLPs, and then once SLP is found, there are the reimbursements for transportation expenses. The heartbreaking reality is this: there is less money available to provide the children the services they need.
The Optimal Solution
Online speech therapy, or “teletherapy,” is an innovative, cost effective solution that offers maximum flexibility by overcoming barriers of distance, unavailability of specialists, and impaired mobility. By extending top-quality clinical services to remote, rural, and underserved populations, Speech teletherapy may significantly reduce the SLP shortage, and alleviate severely strained school budgets allowing administrators to focus on other educational priorities.
Teletherapy in many ways is similar face-to-face therapy, but instead of sitting in the same room, the therapist and student communicate via high-resolution, live video conferencing. During therapy sessions, the student and therapist can see, hear, and interact with one another in real time, using webcams, headsets, and a live, synchronous online learning environment.
Telepractice has exceptional value and is affordable. There is a mistaken perception that telepractice is more costly than traditional onsite therapy due to the additional expenses associated with clinical services, equipment, and adding a paraprofessional and technology.
In fact, the opposite is true. The online speech therapy provider, save for the computer, generally covers technology-related costs and, even after factoring in a paraprofessional, can be less expensive than what a traditional staffing agency would charge. And the fee for an online speech therapist is comparable to that of an on-site therapist.
Savings: Let Me Count The Ways
- Traveling expenses for the therapist are eliminated.
- Traditional staffing agencies often charge a premium fee to find a therapist who will travel, which of course with teletherapy is irrelevant.
- Relieves schools of other administrative issues and expenses by streamlining scheduling, easing tracking and reporting, simplifying, auditing and organizing accurate instantly retrievable records through the digital services provided.
No Compromise on Quality
Best of all, there is no compromise needed when it comes to quality. Teletherapy affords schools access to top-notch ASHA certified SLPs, as they are no longer limited to locally-based SLPs, but can draw from a nationwide network of highly qualified, certified therapists.
Teletherapy has been used successfully since the late 1990’s. It has been found to be an effective and appropriate therapeutic delivery mode in 20 years of research by over 40 academic published studies, beginning with the Mayo Clinic’s 1997 landmark paper.
It’s a No Brainer
So, if you are a school administrator, and serious about getting that financial assistance without the sacrifice, your answer may be no further away than a few clicks. Try it out, you have nothing to lose, but perhaps some of those financial headaches!