We’ve had a lot of questions come in recently asking about how caseload management works in teletherapy. Specifically, we’ve had therapists ask how providers in the PL Care Network get their first assignment and complete all the behind-the-scenes work that goes into getting started with a new caseload. This is the first in a four-part series that walks through how to transition from onsite to online work as a therapist. We reached out to Kristin Martinez, SLP-CCC, to help us answer some of the most frequent questions we’ve heard.
How do you define and communicate availability?
At PresenceLearning, we request that providers indicate specifically when, each day, they are available to sit down in front of the computer for therapy sessions. These times must be recurring as therapy sessions are scheduled based upon this information. Beyond availability for direct therapy, however, providers must also be available to attend IEP meetings, complete evaluations, respond to email, and complete all student-related documentation and paperwork. The days and times may vary, but providers are still responsible for all caseload-related tasks, just as onsite providers would be. We begin to gather availability information during the recruiting process, then if a provider contracts with us, our Provider Success Managers confirm availability with providers before final scheduling. PresenceLearning also has an availability app within our platform that allows providers to communicate their most updated availability without the extra step of sending an email to our team.
How is my caseload assigned?
Eligibility for a caseload is determined by two primary factors: 1) a provider having the appropriate state licensure (in the states where both the provider and the students sit); and 2) a good match between the provider’s availability and the school’s and students’ schedules. Once our team has determined that a particular school assignment is a good scheduling fit, the next step is to select the specific students who will be assigned to a provider. The number of students assigned to work with a particular provider again depends on the provider’s overall desired direct therapy hours, whether students are to be seen individually or in groups, and what works in terms of scheduling. Depending on how many direct therapy hours a provider desires, it is common for a caseload to be composed of assignments to multiple school districts. With the ability to cross-license into multiple states, a provider might work with students in California on Mondays and Wednesdays, and in Alaska on Tuesdays and Thursdays
What should you consider when preparing for an online caseload? How does it differ from working onsite?
Managing a caseload of students as a teletherapist is very similar to caseload management as an onsite provider.
- provide all direct and consult services as specified by each student’s IEP
- complete evaluations and reports related to both initial referrals and triennial reviews
- create and update IEPs in accordance with all timelines
- attend all IEP meetings
- collaborate with teachers and parents
- maintain timely communication with school teachers and administrators
While the caseload management responsibilities of a SLP, OT, or Behavior and Mental Health Specialist are identical regardless of whether a provider is virtual or onsite, teletherapists do need to have strong organization and communication skills. Because virtual providers are not physically in the building to track down a teacher who needs to share academic progress ahead of an IEP meeting, to make sure that a Notice of Meeting goes home in a student’s backpack, or to do an extra classroom observation prior to an eligibility meeting, teletherapists always need to be one step ahead, and highly proactive in all communication. Teletherapists shouldn’t wait to hear from the case managers regarding scheduling for annual reviews—reach out well in advance of all students’ due dates and make sure you are included in scheduling. In addition, teletherapists need to offer (reasonable) flexibility to schools in terms of being available for collaboration, IEP meeting attendance, and student testing.
What resources does PL offer for keeping track of SOAP Notes?
The PresenceLearning platform enables documentation of SOAP notes in real time, within each provider’s therapy room, or documentation can be completed after a session has ended. Many providers track data in-session within the therapy room, data which is then pulled directly into the Objective section of each student’s SOAP note. Then, either between sessions or at the end of the day, providers can complete the notes’ remaining sections. SOAP notes are saved in students’ histories, so information from past sessions is easily accessible.
Stay tuned for more in our educational series intended to offer guidance for therapists who are considering a move to teletherapy as an independent contractor. And let us know on our Facebook page if you have any other questions you’d like to us to answer.
Are you interested in a career in teletherapy? If so, visit our Careers page to start your application process today.