Few events in this century have changed the world. COVID-19 has essentially taken every idea of routine and habit that we have all known so well, picked them up, spun them around, and let go, letting all the pieces land where they may, changing every aspect of the world we know.
Many of those pieces are slowly starting to find one another, linking together to create a new “norm.” For other pieces, the unfamiliar future prevents them from committing to anything new. Every school district in the country is working hard to determine what the best path forward is for their students. Early Intervention programs have halted in some states, and others are navigating technology to provide services. Preschools and pediatric outpatient clinics are digesting new laws and rules and paving new paths to keep their kiddos and their employees safe. It seems like everything is uncertain, except we certainly know that everything has changed.
For the team at HealthPRO® Pediatrics, however, these changes have accelerated the official launch of techniques that we have been working on for years. In 2016, we built a committee, started research, and developed a plan for virtual services, knowing that technology would be an essential part of our future. Virtual education has been around for many years, and has been researched since the inception of the internet in 1988, according to Farrell (1999). Colleges and universities have well-established online programs, followed by virtual schools for students who found challenges in attending traditional classrooms. Additionally, teletherapy services have been discussed and approved by national organizations, such as the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), and American Psychological Association (APA) for almost a decade. As a result, many service providers have had core coursework and continuing education in providing virtual services. HealthPRO® Pediatrics has provided weekly informational opportunities for our employees to help them establish themselves in their new roles as virtual service providers.
We have taken time to listen to our employees, their kiddos and students, and our clients about the barriers and challenges they have experienced, or foresee, in providing services virtually. We have created multiple plans to address the needs of each district and program, varying from a hybrid approach of virtual and in-person services, transitional services from virtual to in-person, and a staggered approach, providing any necessary level of virtual and in-person services at any time. Our platforms are HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) and FERPA (Family Education Rights and Privacy Act) compliant with established and executed Business Associate Agreements (BAAs) in place so privacy is maintained at all levels. We understand that future plans are dynamic, and we are prepared to be dynamic too. HealthPRO® Pediatrics is prepared to help each of our clients and employees be successful.
Viktor E. Frankl said, “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” We at HealthPRO® Pediatrics have been challenging ourselves so that we can help our clients and employees put the pieces together. Our mission is to accelerate virtual access while improving the educational service delivery model for every child we serve.