BMC Health Services Research
URL with Digital Object Identifier
Background: Many professional services were pressed to adopt telepractice in response to the global coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) pandemic. The need to adopt a new service delivery approach quickly created different implementation challenges. This study explored the lived experiences of frontline clinicians who successfully transitioned their in-person speech-language therapy services to telepractice through an implementation science lens.
Methods: The study was conducted in partnership with one publicly funded program in Ontario, Canada that offers services to preschoolers with speech, language and communication disorders. Sixteen frontline speech-language pathologists and assistants at this organization shared their lived experience transitioning to telepractice during the pandemic during videoconference interviews. A narrative inquiry approach was used to analyze interview transcripts to identify the processes (or steps) this program took to implement telepractice and to understand the facilitators and barriers to telepractice implementation during the pandemic.
Results: The following six stages were identified from clinicians' narratives: abrupt lockdown; weeks of uncertainty; telepractice emerged as an option; preparation for telepractice; telepractice trials; and finally, full implementation of telepractice. The stages of events offered significant insights into how government public health measures influenced clinicians' decisions and their processes of adopting telepractice. In terms of barriers, clinicians reported a lack of knowledge, skills and experience with telepractice and a lack of technological support. The organization's learning climate and team approach to transitioning services were identified as the main facilitator of implementation.
Conclusions: Findings suggest a need for better coordination of public health measures and professional services, which would have eased clinicians' stress and facilitated an earlier transition to telepractice. Fostering an organization's learning climate may improve organization's resilience in response to emergency situations.
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.