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Abstract

Purpose: With COVID-19 social distancing measures requiring a shift in how healthcare is delivered, telehealth service provision allows patients to receive care remotely while adhering to relevant safety regulations. This study investigated the perceptions and experiences of allied health practitioners and their patients at a multidisciplinary allied health clinic that rapidly transitioned to telehealth service delivery. Method: Allied health practitioners (both qualified and student) and patients were recruited during the transition to telehealth across a large healthcare facility located on the Gold Coast, Australia. Participants were surveyed after each telehealth session rating their satisfaction and experience across four areas (technical, administrative and operational, privacy, communication). Descriptive statistics were used to express categorical variables and a chi-square test of independence was applied to determine the presence of any associations. Results: Surveys (n=197) were collected from allied health practitioners (n = 31) and their patients (n = 70). Overall, high levels of satisfaction and experience with telehealth among patients and a consensus in satisfaction and experience among exercise physiology, physiotherapy and psychology practitioners were reported. Speech pathology student practitioners rated their satisfaction and telehealth experience significantly (p < 0.001) lower than other disciplines. A significant relationship [χ2 (2, n = 127) = 7.49, p = .02] between student practitioners and the impact of telehealth on achieving session goals and outcomes was also identified. Conclusions: This study highlights complexities related to the acceptability and adoption of telehealth, technical aspects, and user functionality which contribute to the growing body of evidence supporting digital health technologies in the delivery and access to allied health services. In a multidisciplinary context, this study advocates for the consideration of discipline-specific issues when designing and implementing digital health services.

Author Bio(s)

Dr Michelle Krahe, PhD, BAppSci (BiomedSci) (Hons) is a Senior Health Research Fellow at Griffith University with extensive experience in clinical and primary health research. She has a record of leadership and expertise in research strategy, development and management in the research, academia, government and health sectors.

Maya Conway MPH, MSpPath, CPSP is a researcher in the Health Group and School of Allied Health Sciences at Griffith University. Maya is a certified speech-language pathologist with a background in public health. Her areas of expertise include child health, speech-language pathology and service delivery for vulnerable populations.

Dr Simone Howells PhD, BSpPath(Hons), GradCertClinEd, CPSP is a Lecturer and Clinical Education Coordinator in the Speech Pathology Program, School of Allied Health Sciences, Griffith University. She is a certified practicing speech pathologist with expertise in adult dysphagia and the education and training of speech pathology students.

Kara Roffey BExSc/BPhty, MSportsPhysio, is the Director of the Allied Health and Psychology Clinic at Griffith University's Gold Coast campus in Queensland, Australia. She is also a senior physiotherapist with expertise in sports physiotherapy.

Professor Sheena Reilly AM, FASSA FAHMS FSPA FRCSLT is Pro Vice Chancellor (Health) at Griffith University and Australia’s foremost academic in childhood communication disorders. She is among the most highly cited researchers in her field, devoting 30-years of her career to understanding speech, language and literacy development in children.

Acknowledgements

We would like to acknowledge the Griffith University Health Clinic and allied health professionals and patients who participated in this study.

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