Allied health professional and student perceptions of telehealth clinical placements in an adult neurological rehabilitation setting: A quality improvement project
Background: During the COVID-19 pandemic, AHPs and clinical educators (CEs) at Royal Rehab needed to adapt to hosting clinical placements using telehealth. Barriers to the use of technology by AHPs have been identified elsewhere (Australian Government, 2011), and include lack of technology support, lack of client experience, and digital security. CEs need to incorporate technology into their practice to continue to provide clinical education.
Aims: 1) To understand the barriers and facilitators to hosting student clinical placements via telehealth at Royal Rehab and 2) To understand the student experience of completing a telehealth placement at Royal Rehab.
Methods: Literature review and mixed methods quality improvement project, including survey of Royal Rehab allied health professionals and a forum discussion where key themes from the survey were discussed (n= 8). Students (n=2) who experienced a telehealth speech pathology placement at Royal Rehab provided feedback. Using survey results and evidence from the literature, barriers were addressed by developing a student telehealth placement manual for AHPs.
Results: AHPs at Royal Rehab believed that telehealth clinical placements are feasible, but confidence in hosting these placements was low. Three major concerns were identified including lack of IT infrastructure, development of rapport with clients, and ensuring client confidentiality. These barriers are consistent with the literature. Student experiences included learning and troubleshooting IT systems, reduced access to resources, and increased workload. AHPs felt a manual to support student telehealth placements would be benenficial.
Conclusions: Many of the barriers identified by AHPs to conducting student placements can be overcome by working with onsite IT teams and universities, and by consulting the literature. Student experiences of telehealth placements in speech pathology was largely positive.