Poster Session
Issue Date: July 2015
Published Online: July 01, 2015
Updated: April 30, 2020
Telehealth Usage by Occupational Therapy Practitioners
Author Affiliations
  • Texas Woman’s University
Article Information
Assistive Technology / Education of OTs and OTAs / Home Accessibility/Environmental Modification / Health Services Research and Education
Poster Session   |   July 01, 2015
Telehealth Usage by Occupational Therapy Practitioners
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, July 2015, Vol. 69, 6911510038.
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, July 2015, Vol. 69, 6911510038.

Date Presented 4/16/2015

Telehealth is an emerging field in occupational therapy. As part of an interdisciplinary Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) grant, occupational therapy practitioners were surveyed to determine utilization and perceptions of telehealth technology in clinical practice. This poster presentation illustrates the study and results.

SIGNIFICANCE: This research addresses an emerging field of practice in occupational therapy. Telehealth has been recognized by our national organization as an important area for practitioners to consider, as indicated by an American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) position paper on telehealth that outlines the need and diverse ways that the technology may be used with clients.
INNOVATION: This project is a first step in determining the ways telehealth is being utilized by occupational therapy practitioners. Minimal research has been conducted in this area, so this survey provides a window into the potential for a new kind of service delivery to clients who are unable to travel to clinics. It serves as an innovative outreach to clients and families in need of occupational therapy.
APPROACH: Research questions included the following: To what extent are Houston-area occupational therapists utilizing telehealth in clinical practice? What occupational therapy services are being delivered via telehealth methods? What attitudes do Houston-area occupational therapists have toward telehealth in clinical practice?
RATIONALE/BACKGROUND: Participants learned about local current trends of telehealth utilization among Houston-area occupational therapists. Current practices, barriers, and experiences with telehealth were described as well as potential opportunity for continuing education in telehealth. Collectively, these topics will enhance participants’ awareness and understanding of an emerging but important focus of occupational therapy.
METHOD: An online 22-question survey was developed using Psycdata software. Questions were multiple-choice, multiple-answer, and fill-in-the-blank. A reminder was sent after 1 wk, and the survey was closed after 2 wk. A total of 244 occupational therapy practitioners were contacted via a mailing list from the Texas Occupational Therapy Association Gulf Coast Chapter. Data were analyzed using Psycdata and Microsoft Excel software.
RESULTS: Of the 51 respondents, 11 (22%) reported using telehealth for evaluations or interventions. Evaluations included activities of daily living (ADLs) as well as neuromuscular and assistive technology evaluations. Interventions performed included ADL training, environmental modification, and patient consultation. These results suggest that many occupational therapy practitioners do not currently use telehealth in clinical practice, but those who do are using it for a variety of purposes. Additionally, 46% of respondents felt insufficiently skilled to effectively utilize telehealth technology, but 52% felt that telehealth had the potential to improve clinical practice. This may indicate a need for more education and training in telehealth technology for occupational therapy practitioners.
CONCLUSION: Overall, occupational therapy practitioners reported little telehealth utilization and low self-efficacy with telehealth technology. Many, however, affirmed the potential of telehealth to improve clinical practice and expressed some interest in telethealth training. These findings suggest a significant need for telehealth training for occupational therapy practitioners. Further research should explore the reasons why occupational therapy practitioners may or may not pursue further training.