Tapping into Technology Imagine a future when patients log on to cyber speech and hearing clinics from the comfort of their homes and receive diagnostic and treatment services for their communication disorder from technologically savvy audiologists and speech-language pathologists. Sound unlikely? Feel scary? Seem revolutionary? Many of the technological advances we take for ... Features
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Features  |   June 11, 2002
Tapping into Technology
Author Notes
  • Vic S. Gladstone, is ASHA’s chief staff officer for audiology.
    Vic S. Gladstone, is ASHA’s chief staff officer for audiology.×
Article Information
Telepractice & Computer-Based Approaches / Features
Features   |   June 11, 2002
Tapping into Technology
The ASHA Leader, June 2002, Vol. 7, 1-11. doi:10.1044/leader.FTR3.07112002.1
The ASHA Leader, June 2002, Vol. 7, 1-11. doi:10.1044/leader.FTR3.07112002.1
Imagine a future when patients log on to cyber speech and hearing clinics from the comfort of their homes and receive diagnostic and treatment services for their communication disorder from technologically savvy audiologists and speech-language pathologists. Sound unlikely? Feel scary? Seem revolutionary?
Many of the technological advances we take for granted today—radio, television, personal computers (PCs)—were all revolutionary developments that took time to gain acceptance and widespread use. For example, it took the telephone 38 years to reach 30% penetration of the United States population, the television took 17 years to reach 30% penetration, and the PC took 13 years to reach the same level of penetration.
Yet, it has only taken seven years for the Internet to reach 30% penetration of the U.S. population. A year in Internet development has been likened to 5–10 years in the evolution of other media. Internet capacity now doubles every 100 days.
Somewhat more than 37 million Americans were using the Internet from home on a daily basis at the end of 1998, compared to only 19 million in the middle of 1997, according to the United States Internet Council ( www.usinternetcouncil.org/ ). The end of 2001 saw the online population exceed the 500 million mark. Not surprisingly, online demographics began to reflect offline population changes. For example, native English speakers lost their dominance in 2001 and represented approximately 45% of the online population.
The dramatically increasing number of Web pages is a useful gauge of the value of content to Internet users. The number of Web pages on the World Wide Web was estimated to be at 829 million in 1998. In 2002, the number is expected to mushroom to 7.7 billion Web pages.
So, what does this mean for us as clinicians and for our patients/clients? Will we be able to take advantage of this medium to its fullest? As part of the focused initiatives for 2001–2003, ASHA developed a report designed to educate members and focus future Association direction regarding telepractices and the professions of audiology and speech-language pathology. That report defined telepractice as:

…the application of technology to deliver health services at a distance by linking clinician and patient or clinician and clinician to provide any or all of the following: (1) training, counseling, education; (2) assessment—establishing patient status; (3) intervention—treatment/management, and to provide remote support and training of practitioners.

Telepractice is about the wise application of current and emerging technology to deliver health-related information and clinical services in a manner that: (1) reduces barriers to access and/or specialized expertise; (2) is cost-effective; (3) enhances provider productivity and/or effectiveness; and (4) creates additional value/benefits for the health care provider and/or the consumer (e.g., reduced travel time and costs).
As technology advances, our abilities to enhance services to patients/clients will improve. For example, Bluetooth technology will provide a wireless link for data exchange between any two or more electronic devices when they come within 40 feet of each other. A computer could thus communicate with and continually update a very portable AAC device; programming of digital hearing aids could take place within proximity to a PC; and assistive listening devices could offer significant acoustic improvement over, for example, infrared systems that must be in line of sight.
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FROM THIS ISSUE
June 2002
Volume 7, Issue 11