As Colorado experiences increasing demand for Part C early intervention (EI) services, it has enabled the use of Telehealth to address the shortage of personnel qualified to provide them.
To increase access to appropriate and timely services through Part C early intervention (EI) services, the state began allowing telehealth (provision of services via video-conferencing) for EI sessions statewide. Prior to the implementation of telehealth in EI delivery, the state was experiencing provider shortages, as well as challenges in meeting families’ scheduling needs. A project was piloted to test the use of telehealth in EI in Pueblo county, Colorado. Through the pilot, a task force led development of policies and procedures to aid implementation, including a few changes to the state’s Part C rules, which now include telehealth as a service delivery method and require providers to complete training before providing services using that method. The task force also engaged in a field-test of the National Center for Hearing Assessment and Management’s training on telehealth. The Center later released three free online training courses which helped them prepare for the telehealth pilot. Lessons learned from the training and the pilot informed development of four Colorado-specific training modules that discuss what telehealth is, required forms and billing procedures, guidance on how to plan and use telehealth, and videos of successful telehealth sessions. The task force also developed a checklist for programs, consent forms for families, and a brochure. Based on learnings from the pilot, Colorado is using the term “live video visits” to describe telehealth.
Anecdotally, there has been great success in implementing the telehealth model into EI delivery in Colorado. The state is working to obtain outcomes data that will look at children who received services only via telehealth as compared with children who received services only through in-person visits but is pleased to note that there have been preliminary reports of children graduating out of EI sooner with the implementation of telehealth. As interest continues to grow, it is expected that as more providers are trained, the utilization of this method will continue to increase. In the meantime, the state will continue to work on awareness raising, particularly to providers that have not yet billed any services for telehealth.
The state has made much progress in growing implementation of telehealth services into EI. 75 providers completed the telehealth training in 2018 and in early 2019, the state had already recorded 271 providers that completed the training. The state has observed an increase in providers billing for telehealth services as well. In 2018 there were five providers that billed for telehealth services in EI, and in early 2019, there were already 37 providers that had billed for the services. As interest continues to grow, the state will continue to monitor family and provider feedback.
Learn more by reading this article in the International Journal of Telerehabilitation.
Updated March 2019.