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Service Delivery Considerations in Private Practice in Speech-Language Pathology During COVID-19

ASHA recognizes that many members who own, manage, and/or work in a private practice are facing interruptions in care, changes in daily operations, and challenging decisions. Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) continue to show their outstanding commitment to their clients and the communities they serve while navigating fluid information from widespread sources. 

The following information can help in decision making related to speech-language pathology private practice management. 

Infection Control and Social Distancing

ASHA refers to guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) for infection control and other precautions, summarized in Infection Control Resources for Audiologists and Speech-Language Pathologists. Practice owners/employers should consider county- and state-level guidance regarding non-essential travel restrictions, social distancing, and other guidelines—as well as regarding the ability to provide and implement effective infection control strategies. The CDC’s Prepare to Care for COVID-19: Get Your Practice Ready webpage offers signage and implementation strategies.

Temporary Practice Closure

Generally, when clinics or individual clinicians are not able to provide services that match their established treatment plan, concerns about client abandonment can arise. These are not ordinary times, however. If you are not able to provide ongoing services through in-person visits or telepractice, here are some steps to take:

  • Provide as much notice about your closure as possible.
  • Let your clients know their options, including home exercises/suggestions for activities during this time and/or referrals to other clinics in your area that are providing services, if applicable.
  • For each client, include in your documentation the reason for the interruption in services—including what additional options or information you provided and/or any state or county regulations that may be in place (e.g., a shelter-in-place order from the county).

Essential Workers

See ASHA’s resource SLP Service Delivery Considerations in Healthcare During Coronavirus/COVID-19.

Telepractice

See ASHA’s Telepractice Resources During COVID-19

Group Treatment Via Telepractice

An additional privacy notice is recommended if you are providing treatment to groups via telepractice—because of the presence of facilitators or other people in the client’s location. If you are providing services as part of a school contract, then group treatment needs to be included in the individualized education program (IEP), or the IEP needs to be modified to include group services.

Speech-Language Pathology Assistants (SLPAs)

The provision of services through telepractice is in ASHA’s Scope of Practice for SLPAs . However, practices differ by state and by work setting. Contact your state’s SLP licensing board [PDF] regarding both telepractice and SLPA practice regulations to determine whether SLPAs can participate in telepractice in your state. Check with payers, too, about reimbursement.

Clinical Fellows and Students

See COVID-19: Use of Telepractice and Telesupervision.

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