Ways to Improve Speech Language Therapy outcomes

Ashleigh Knowles
Ashleigh Knowles
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Overview on speech language therapy

Speech and language therapy focuses on the treatment of those who have difficulties communicating, eating, swallowing, or drinking. Its goal is to decrease speech impairments and enhance pronunciation, which may entail strengthening specific muscles, and can involve extensive treatment programs. There is no specific disorder that speech language therapy caters to; rather, anyone who has difficulty speaking can benefit from the treatment. It could be language disorders, in which people have difficulty developing speech and speaking fluently, or voice disorders where the individual may be suffering from voice nodules or excessive raspiness or hoarseness. Sometimes, these issues can be so encompassing that it can be difficult to know where to start, and how to deliver speech therapy results that are effective in addressing the issues at hand. That’s where we come in! Through this guide, we can help you get started on the right foot when it comes to SOAP notes, assessment, evaluation, and all things speech and language. 

Importance of outcome measurement in speech and language therapy

Almost every speech language therapy assessment guide will tell you that it’s of utmost importance that you consider outcome measurement within your services. To ensure that you’re delivering high-quality services that evaluate clinical effectiveness, as well as any improvements made, then you must implement some form of outcome measurement. It’s the easiest way to highlight the impact of your services, and that you’re actually improving the condition of patients’ speech and voice impediments. In fact, in many areas, it’s a legal requirement that you must adhere to and is a systematic component of auditing processes. 

Ways to improve speech language therapy outcomes

As there’s no one right way to do it, it’s important that you’re aware of all the ways in which you can increase your speech-language therapy outcomes, and thus, client satisfaction. Implementing these will work wonders for your KPIs, and ensure that you are maximizing your resources and delivering on quality. 

Integrate articulation and language therapy

By combining both articulation and language therapy, you can see more of the same age or grade children within the same groups. This means that you can supply a way for them to practice the sounds taught and allows you to overlap topics. It works far more efficiently and provides opportunities for practice across a variety of integrated areas that already have a strong relationship. For instance, articulation can be worked into the literacy-based interventions that you implement, without having to waste unnecessary time!

Have your patient repeat their goals and progress

Having your patients repeat their goals is a great way to solidify what they’re working towards in their minds. After all, there’s no point in treatment if you don’t know what you’re trying to achieve! Try to start and finish each session by asking what their goal is, especially with children, as you may be surprised to learn that many kids have no idea what their long-term objectives are. Sticker charts are your friend, and implementing this will be sure to see a boost in progress.  

Teach compensatory strategies

While speech-language therapy has a clear focus on verbal production, and at the end of the day, that is the main goal; it’s also important to recognize the many other ways to communicate. Writing and non-verbal gestures are a good way to improve speech therapy outcomes and can help translate ideas and emotions while goals are gradually being ticked off. 

Therapist feedback

Steps in conducting an evaluation

When it comes to speech language therapy assessment, there are multiple things that you should definitely consider to properly evaluate clients. Incorporating these ensures that you have better high-quality services and that you’re prioritizing the development goals and objectives of the client at all times.

Determine factors for evaluation

It’s important that you first establish the factors that you want to consider for evaluation. There’s a broad variety of aspects that can be implemented, however, each organization and speech-language practice is very different. You need to spend some time considering what is appropriate, and consider what is relevant to your clinic. For example, you may be interested in the reduction of the age of referrals, or the percentage of those fully trained practitioners in your clinic.  

Map the services to be evaluated

Creating a map, or some sort of conceptual model, that explains all your processes and how your programs cohesively work together is a great idea to outline your business. You can more clearly understand the bigger picture, and how the small parts work together as a whole, as well as what needs to be researched in greater detail. You can consider a logical model that highlights cause and effect, such as the provision of training leading to higher levels of competence. 

Identify methods to collect the data

Many evaluations are data-driven, and yours should be no exception. It’s important that you think about how exactly you want to go about collecting data, and there are a number of ways to do so. For instance, you could use qualitative and quantitative methodologies, and you could also approach small or large, specific or non-specific groups. Ideally, you tread the line between depth and breadth.   

Collect the data

In terms of collecting the data, you could use basic management data with numbers that already exist, or gather new quantitative data from participant surveys. Conversely, you could also collect new qualitative data such as interviews or activities with stakeholders and participants. There’s really no straightforward way to do it, and whichever way you pick, you can extract valuable information. 

Analysis of data

You’ll also need to analyze your data to produce rich insights that can be used within the operations of your practice and clinic. This can be as simple as producing tables and charts, as well as any descriptive statistics, or using sophisticated programs to observe significant changes or differences. For more qualitative details, you could compile reports with common themes, quotes, and examples. 

Dissemination of your findings

Finally, you should also consider finalizing the information in an easily digestible and presentable format. This may include a presentation, tailored reports, or information and infographic sheets. 

Digitization of outcome measurement in speech and language therapy

You may notice a recurring theme with data, in that it involves analysis within technical programs. Quite simply, digitization of outcome measurement, through evaluation of online data and statistics can help breed far richer information, and in a way that is easily understandable. With the right program, anyone can access information without having to spend hours pouring over books in an attempt to wrap their head around data collection processes. With teletherapy for speech language therapy, you can use sophisticated programs which automatically present and compile essential information pertaining to KPIs and whatever else. You can easily view your growth stats, and ensure that you’re on track to achieving your goals without hassle or compromise. The impact of your services can be carefully evaluated and assessed, and you can provide your patients with full confidence that their speech-language health is prioritized. 

Conclusion

Speech-language therapy is incredibly commonplace within the healthcare industry and can be an incredibly rewarding specialty. It provides help to many children and adults with speech, swallowing, and voice difficulties, and with the right practices in place, such as CPT, you can ensure you’re delivering high-quality services that continually work towards making advancements and improvements. Hopefully, this information has provided you with a greater understanding when it comes to your practice and how you can measure outcomes to only provide the best care for those that need it. Using data collection, amongst other processes, you can develop effective ways to measure your impact and sustain efficient treatment. 

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