“Is this the life I want to live?”
I keep this Post-It note on my desk, reading it every day, to remind me that I’m the only one in charge of my future. It also gives me pause to think about what I want not only today to look like but the future, too. And every now and then, I get a golden “Ah-Ha” moment.
Six months ago, I had a big one.
Many in my field feel strongly the future of our profession is, in part, online therapy. Video-conferencing. Welcome to 1970.
Online therapy is new to the healthcare consumer and can be new to many SLPs. Professionally and within the healthcare industry, we’re still identifying best practices. But really, when all is said and done, the technology is just another tool we use to help our clients meet their goals.
And yes, technology is a great tool. Some have built tech-enabled platforms for speech therapists that include video-conferencing, electronic content, games for kids, etc. But despite feeling progressive and new, they’re only tools and really don’t change much. “Speech therapy online” isn’t radically different from speech therapy in a clinic or hospital. In fact, we often make this point ourselves here at Hello.
This is because, despite awesome new tools (be they technology related or not), therapy tends to still revolve around the wrong person: the SLP. The traditional SLP determines the schedule and location of service, is the gatekeeper for what is being worked on and whether progress is being made, and often gives homework without input from the child or family on what is practical in their lives.
Don’t get me wrong, I get it. I’ve built a business and run an entire practice on this model. But fundamentally, it’s never felt entirely right. Who am I to hold all the power of how, when, and where kids make progress? When they are seen, how often, what we’re working on, what homework tasks should be? That’s a whole lot about me and my plans.
If we’re really about kids, shouldn’t we be circling around them?
What if kids could conveniently receive service from home, or while at Grandma’s, or daycare or when away on vacation? At times convenient for them to schedule?
What if other stakeholders (mom, dad, siblings, grandparents, teachers, daycare providers, nannies, preschool teachers, doctors, or others) could independently access and watch recordings of the child’s session? Or access personal messages from the therapist? Or access growth data? Or review suggested homework and how to do it? All at a time convenient for them regardless as to where they may be located or the time of day?
What if those stakeholders had a secure place to upload recordings from their own environment to share with the SLP? Or review more general information or videos of “how to” support a child’s goals in their home, school, or other social environment?
What if SLPs spent more time as consultants to stakeholders? Would children improve more quickly?
I’ve been waiting for this future to arrive, but it’s been slow to materialize despite technological advances. Then, one day I read my Post-It again and realized everything kids needed was right in front of me. I believe we invent the future we want, so Hello needed to pave the way. What better group to boldly step forward and pass power and control over to families?
My ah-ha moment was not that this had to happen. I’ve believed that for a while now.
The real AH-HA was when I figured out how to do it!
Now, the future we want is on the way.
Introducing . . .
The Hello There App
Simple. Convenient. Effective.
And it’s now available for desktop, Android, and Apple devices. We’re not yet done with development and currently only using it with a handful of (very brave and forgiving) clients. But we’re taking responsibility today for changing up speech therapy tomorrow.
We’re not afraid to fail if we’re trying something new for the benefit of kids.
This “speech therapy 2.0” will be about fitting into the world of our client. Not expecting our client to work around us.
Kids will be able to get speech therapy from anywhere they like! Parents will be able to log into to their own child’s account and view recordings, growth charts, access support materials, and share their access code with any other stakeholder that may want to support their child.
Is the family torn in 9 directions shuttling kids to and from appointments? No problem. Kids can log on to therapy from the convenience of their couch. Or the sidelines of their sibling’s soccer game.
Mom away on business? No problem. She can log on and check out the week’s progress notes.
Grandparents paying for therapy and want to understand what’s happening? No problem. They can log on and watch the SLP’s recent recorded summary or watch part of an actual session.
Teacher wants to know how to best support their student? No problem. They can log on, upload a sample of the child’s speech, and get support from the SLP on how to support the child in the classroom.
Plus families and kids can access a library of more generalized videos, websites, links, suggested support groups, and other resources , all in the name of best supporting the unique needs of a child.
Our little window into the future can now be found by clicking here for the Google Play store or here for the iTunes store. Or you can visit the app store of your choice search for “Hello There” or “Hello There Speech” to find the app. For the protection of kids and families, there’s no access without a code, so you won’t be able to use or explore the app independently. However, if you fancy yourself in that category of “brave and forgiving clients” I mentioned earlier, we’d love to hear from you.
Click here to drop us a line if you have any questions, or if you’d like to join us in exploring this new frontier of child-centered speech therapy.
And welcome to the future that will finally circle around kids.
This is the future in which I want to live.