Tele Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology in India - A Short Report
Background: The discipline of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology is half-a-century old in India. Speech language pathologists and audiologists (SLPs and AUDs) have identified the need to ‘reach-the-unreached’ in India by using a telehealth model for rehabilitation of persons with communication disorders. The aim of this paper is to present a panoramic view of telepractice in India right from its emergence to its current state, drawing support from a review of published work by SLPs and AUDs in India. Methods: A questionnaire was developed to elicit responses on barriers for telepractice and similarities and differences in face-to-face and telepractice of speech-language pathology service delivery. Using survey research design, 17 speech-language pathologists practicing in India were purposively selected for the study. Results: 15 questionnaires were completed. Most respondents (53.3% - 86.6%) reported technical issues as barriers for telepractice. Face-to-face and telepractice of speech language pathology service delivery was reported to be different in terms of instructions for caregivers, documentation, face validity, acceptance and responsibility on caregivers. Many participants felt that more sensitivity and caution, special ICT skills for clinician and caregiver/client, exclusive software, dedicated professionals to trouble shoot technical issues are additional requirements for telepractice. Concerns about client confidentiality were expressed and lack of direct feedback and environmental distractions at client end were reported as challenges in telepractice delivery. Conclusions: The study demonstrates that service delivery through telemodel is mostly positively embraced in India, despite the challenges.
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