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During the current COVID-19 pandemic, telepractice is being heralded as the safest service delivery mode for the majority of outpatient consultations. Patients are reviewed by their healthcare specialist through video consultations, thus avoiding the need for patients to leave their homes. This service delivery model prevents crowded hospital clinics and importantly maintains social distancing to reduce the transmission of the coronavirus. The authors of this paper, ahead of these unprecedented times, performed a survey of telepractice for paediatric feeding services amongst Australian speech-language pathologists (SLPs). Their findings are an important baseline for how the current global pandemic has resulted in almost overnight changes in practice. The survey captured SLPs’ perceptions and experience of telepractice for paediatric feeding. Of 84 respondents, 41% reported an interest in telepractice and only 20% of respondents had some experience in using telepractice. Factors limiting wider use included: not having regular access to technology on a daily basis; training and support from organisations including administration; and concerns about whether feeding assessments conducted via telepractice were as reliable as in-person face-to-face assessments. However, many positives were identified including: reduction in travel costs; time; and burden on the family. A more family-centred approach could be fostered if feeding assessments were conducted in a more naturalistic environment with the family acting as agents of the intervention/therapy for children. The authors point out that telepractice is not intended to replace face-to-face consultations, but rather to be offered as a choice to patients and perhaps to occur between hospital visits. It will be interesting if the authors were to repeat this survey after the pandemic has subsided. It is likely to be a clearly documented example highlighting one of the lasting innovations to arise from these crisis times.

Telepractice for the Delivery of Pediatric Feeding Services: A Survey of Practice Investigating Clinician Perceptions and Current Service Models in Australia.
Raatz MK, Ward EC, Marshall J.
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Roganie Govender

University College London, Head & Neck Academic Centre, UK.

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