October 16-22 is Healthcare Quality Week, sponsored by the National Association for Healthcare Quality (NAHQ), to celebrate the profession and raise awareness of the positive impact healthcare professionals have in their organizations and communities.
Healthcare competencies are vital in achieving quality, safety, equity, and value to meet patient expectations about their care.
There was a time that healthcare quality was whatever providers said it was. Fortunately for patients, results – also called outcomes – are measured against established standards to hold all providers – physicians, nurses, therapists, and others who work with patients on the frontline – accountable for good patient outcomes.
How Speech Therapy Contributes to Quality Health Outcomes
In order to achieve positive health outcomes, speech therapists have standards for education and training. The American Speech-Language-hearing Association (ASHA) sets quality standards for speech-language pathologists. For example, the Scope of Practice in Speech-Language Pathology establishes several core communication standard operating expectations for speech therapists. These include:
- Eight domains that impact speech: Collaboration, counseling, prevention and wellness, screening, assessment, treatment, modalities, and technology and instrumentation.
- Informs others (e.g., healthcare providers, educators, consumers/patients, payers, and the general public) about the professional roles and responsibilities of qualified speech therapists.
- The ASHA Code of Ethics specifies that professionals may practice only in areas in which they are competent, based on their education, training and experience.
Patients Have to do Their Part in Virtual Speech Therapy for Quality Outcomes
Patients are vital partners in their care. Their speech therapist will advise them on what they must do to help themselves achieve their desired outcomes. In addition to sessions, patients will be assigned exercises to complete. These resources include video exercises, blogs and e-books.
Just as with any exercise, patients must complete their plan of care. This means meeting with their virtual speech therapists as scheduled. The good news is that patients find virtual speech therapy convenient.
Patients tell us they prefer an online delivery model that eliminates travel expenses and time, which can be an hour or more in rural areas. Also, virtual speech therapy reduces the need to take time off from work and is more private.
Healthcare Quality Week is a good reminder that it takes therapists and patients to work together to get the quality outcomes everyone wants to achieve.