Speech pathologist studies how teleconferencing affects client-therapist rapport

RESEARCH SHARED: A study by Wagga speech pathologist Anneka Freckmann has been published. Picture: Kieren L. Tilly

RESEARCH SHARED: A study by Wagga speech pathologist Anneka Freckmann has been published. Picture: Kieren L. Tilly

Research completed by a Wagga speech pathologist has not only found an international audience, but contributed to discussions about how health services can be delivered remotely.

Anneka Freckmann, who works at Wagga Community Health, completed the research in 2015 as part of her Honours project at the University of Sydney.

Last month it was been published in the International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology.

Ms Freckmann also presented this research at the 2016 Speech Pathology Australia national conference in Perth, and found out the same day she had been successful in her application to work in Wagga.

“I finished the presentation and afterwards checked my phone and saw there was a missed call. That was the call telling me I was the preferred apoplication for the Wagga position,” she said.

Ms Freckmann’s research investigated clinicians’ opinions of rapport in telepractice speech pathology sessions and found speech pathologists perceptions of rapport were the same in face-to-face sessions and telepractice

“A good rapport between the client and the clinician is so important,” she said. “And not only a good rapport between these two, but also a good rapport with the families and carers. You get better therapy outcomes when the rapport is better, which means less visits and less costs for families.”

Ms Freckmann said her study was small, but the results were encouraging and it paved the way for more work to be done.

She has also found that working in community health in a regional area presented everyday examples of how teleconferencing facilities could be used in the delivery of health services.

“For example, clinicians at Griffith who need to travel to Hillston might find ways to make greater use of teleconferencing,” Ms Freckmann said.

“A lot of families have to do a lot of driving, which is very tiring, and it takes time away from others in the family. As the infrastructure gets better, these family might only need to travel to the nearest school or community health centre, as the infrastructure gets better.”

Ms Freckmann believes the delivery of clinicial services over distance, using methods such as teleconferencing, will continue to improve and offer more possibilities.

“This is a good area for future research,” she said.

Wagga Community Health speech pathologist in charge Rachael Lawrence said this aspect of the clinician-client rapport had not previously been studied in speech pathology and was “a very exciting finding”.

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