What Is Telehealth?

Telehealth isn’t a type of therapy or treatment program. Instead, it’s a channel that allows therapists to conduct sessions on the computer, all from the comfort and safety of home.

According to the Health Resources Services Administration, telehealth is

“The use of electronic information and telecommunications technologies to support long-distance clinical health care, patient and professional health-related education, public health and health administration. Technologies include videoconferencing, the internet, store-and-forward imaging, streaming media, and terrestrial and wireless communications.”

Source: Lane Report

In other words, providers have an opportunity to give patients real-time consultation and training while also providing services in remote areas.

Since providers started using telehealth more than three decades ago, other professionals have applied it in numerous fields, from dermatology to surgery.

Telehealth for ABA therapy started less than ten years go, but it has quickly shown signs as an affordable, accessible way for children and families to receive care.

As the technology for this tool continues to improve, so does its ease of use. Patients can use their phone, tablet, or computer to connect directly with therapists and other health care providers.

Are Telehealth And Telemedicine The Same?

Not necessarily. 

Telehealth relates to a broader range of remote healthcare services. For example, continued educated and training for providers, meetings, clinical services like ABA therapy, and more falls under the umbrella of telehealth. 

Telemedicine, on the other hand, applies to remote clinical services.

Telehealth For Early Intervention

Early detection is critical to help a child with ASD, and research finds that early detection and diagnosis dramatically increases his or her development.

These studies find that children who receive behavioral intervention before the age of two display significant improvements in functioning.

In a perfect world, all children would be screened for ASD, allowing those at risk to receive the proper treatment and help they need.

But unfortunately, many are not tested. Additionally, as many as 40% of families in underserved areas have inadequate access to services and specialists for autism. 

However, telehealth can turn this around and give children and families in these areas the resources they need.

A recent study found that remote clinicians positively recognized ASD in 78.9% of children who were later diagnosed by an in-person specialist. 

This suggests that telehealth could be a realistic, accessible, and life-changing tool for children and their families.

Telehealth For Parents

May parents and caregivers throughout the US have no training to care for a child with ASD. This potentially leaves them less equipped to control challenging behaviors that hinder the child’s ability to learn. 

But with telehealth, parents can receive that training and become better equipped to manage a variety of behavioral issues and skilled deficits with a range of behavioral strategies.

A study found that 11 out of 13 families who participated in a telehealth training program saw improvements in their child’s behavior. Additionally, the parents who participated in the study felt more confident in their ability to handle disruptive behaviors. 

The research suggested that for those without adequate access to training, telehealth could be extremely beneficial for parents and, consequently, the child, too.

Benefits Of Telehealth In ABA Therapy

Using telemedicine to administer ABA therapy offers a range of benefits for children with autism and their families.

Better Guidance and Communication

During ABA therapy, a Registered Behavior Therapist (RBT) carries out the treatment created by a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). The BCBA provides care and supervision through in-home sessions with the RBT. During these visits, the BCBA works with the RBT and the child to make sure the treatment plan is followed and effective.

However, sometimes the BCBA may only visit the child once a month. But with telehealth, the BCBA can make more checkups remotely. The BCBA can asses the child, communicate with parents, and discuss concerns, questions, development, and goals more often.

Greater Access In More Communities

Often, providers can’t receive referrals who live outside the BCBA’s travel network. On the other hand, some families must travel to services hours away from their homes. But with telehealth for BCBA supervision, children and families can obtain care from local BIs with remote BCBA supervision. 

Better Outcomes and Greater Satisfaction

With more frequent visits and better communication with parents, BCBAs can adjust strategies more often. Additionally, they can hold routine training sessions with direct-support specialists. Altogether, these expedite the child’s progress and improve a greater feeling of satisfaction with the program.

Is Telehealth Effective for ABA Therapy?

ABA is the gold standard of treatment, but its expense can inhibit many from taking part in this option.

telehealth-a-girl-using-toys-during-a-video-session

Source: @UQ_COH

Knowing that, researchers wanted to learn if administering ABA services through telehealth — a notably affordable service — would have the same effect on children as in-person visits.

The 2016 study assessed the effectiveness of ABA through telemedicine for treating challenging behaviors in children with ASD. 

The results were successful. By training parents to administer functional analysis and functional communication training, the child’s problem behaviors decreased by as much as 90%.

The study showed that home telehealth treatment was significantly more affordable than in-home therapy while still producing similar results.

Telehealth ABA Therapy Services From Sandcastle Centers

Maintaining a routine is vital for children with autism, but the disruption caused by COVID-19 can make doing so difficult. But with telehealth therapy, your child’s development will continue to progress, even during these uncertain times.

Since the beginning, we’ve worked to assist families however possible. That’s we’ve expanded our programs from in-center ABA to in-home ABA and now telehealth ABA therapy. 

We’ve moved most of our services online to support families who are unable to access in-person therapy. And when the pandemic ends, we will still offer this service to assist those who need it.

Most insurances cover sessions, but depending on your company, the services your child receives may vary. But through our new program, your child will have the option to work directly with a therapist online.

We conduct online sessions through Doxy.me or Zoom, both HIPAA-compliant software with no necessary downloading or installation.

Getting started with Sandcastle Center’s telehealth services is easy and offers flexible scheduling. 

During the initial assessment, our intake specialists will verify your insurance benefits and confirm whether the program can be conducted in-person or online. 

Our clinicians will conduct a formal, comprehensive assessment with you and your child to tailor a plan specifically for your child’s and family’s needs. 

Many insurances allow these initial evaluations through telehealth. However, if that is not an option, we can provide an in-home assessment. 

Afterward, our therapists will work with you via telehealth as you work with your child to implement the plan. 

Your child’s success is our main priority, and we will adjust the program as many times as necessary to ensure success. 

What is Doxy.me?

Sandcastle Centers chose Doxy.me for our telehealth services because it is the most accessible, patient-focused, and convenient way for families to continue ABA therapy online.

Since telemedicine is a novel technology, it’s understandable that some would feel uncertain, or wonder if it’s the right choice. 

We want you to feel confident in your decision to continue your child’s ABA therapy through this platform, so here’s a bit about the platform and why we believe it’s the best channel for our services.

At the core of Doxy.me is providing everyone with care — particularly those in rural and underserved areas — through telemedicine.

These solutions are often expensive and complicated, which is why many healthcare providers are unable to offer this service. 

To eliminate these barriers, Doxy.me is a free, user-friendly platform that allows therapists and healthcare providers to support their patients from home.

Receiving health care through a screen may feel impersonal to some, but Doxy.me was designed to give patients and providers a sense of familiarity.

The only thing patients need to use this platform is a web link to the provider’s Doxy.me room. There is also an app available for even more convenience.

Just like an in-person clinic, patient privacy is a top priority. Doxy.me guarantees secure data transmission through state-of-the-art security and encryption protocols, so it complies with HIPAA and HITECH requirements.

 

Sources
  • Lindgren, Scott, et al. “Telehealth and Autism: Treating Challenging Behavior at Lower Cost.” Pediatrics, American Academy of Pediatrics, Feb. 2016, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4727312/.
  • Muller, Elena. “A Piece in the Puzzle – Telehealth & Autism.” HRS, www.healthrecoverysolutions.com/blog/telehealth-autism-diagnosis.
  • Sheldon-Princi, Kate. “Benefits of Telehealth for People with Autism.” 360 Behavioral Health, bh360 Https://Secure.gravatar.com/Avatar/219f49595808ab6f5de54f41d0c0f502?s=96&d=Mm&r=g, 28 Jan. 2020, 360behavioralhealth.com/benefits-telehealth-people-with-autism/.
  • “Telehealth & Applied Behavior Analysis.” ABA Treatment | Trumpet Behavioral Health, 8 Apr. 2020, tbh.com/blog/applied-behavior-analysis/a-brief-introduction-to-the-world-of-telehealth/.
  • “What Is Telehealth? How Is Telehealth Different from Telemedicine?” HealthIT.gov, 17 Oct. 2019, www.healthit.gov/faq/what-telehealth-how-telehealth-different-telemedicine.