Strategies for occupational therapists performing cognitive assessments over telehealth
Performing cognitive assessments over telehealth as an occupational therapist requires careful planning and selection of appropriate assessment tools. While some aspects of cognitive assessment may be challenging to conduct remotely, there are still strategies you can employ. Here are some ways to perform cognitive assessments over telehealth:
- Pre-assessment screening: Begin by conducting a pre-assessment screening to ensure that the individual has the necessary technology, internet connectivity, and privacy to participate effectively in the telehealth session. Address any technical issues or concerns before proceeding with the assessment.
- Interview and observation: Start the cognitive assessment by conducting a structured interview to gather information about the individual’s cognitive abilities, challenges, and functional difficulties. Observe their behavior, attention, and overall engagement during the telehealth session to gain insights into their cognitive functioning.
- Standardised cognitive tests: Select appropriate standardised cognitive tests that can be administered remotely. Some cognitive tests have been adapted for telehealth administration, while others may have specific digital versions available. Ensure that the chosen tests have established reliability and validity for remote administration.
- Screen sharing and interactive tools: Use screen sharing functionality to present test stimuli, such as images or documents, to the individual. This allows you to guide them through the assessment tasks and record their responses. Additionally, interactive tools and digital platforms designed for cognitive assessments can provide a structured and standardised approach.
- Digitised cognitive assessments: Explore digitised versions of cognitive assessments specifically designed for telehealth. These assessments often include interactive features and automated scoring, which can save time and enhance accuracy. Verify that the digitized assessments you use are validated and appropriate for remote administration.
- Caregiver involvement: Depending on the individual’s cognitive abilities, involve caregivers or family members during the assessment process. They can assist in providing information, prompting the individual, or supporting them in completing the tasks. This collaboration can offer a more comprehensive understanding of the individual’s cognitive functioning.
- Functional assessment: While cognitive assessments primarily focus on cognitive abilities, consider incorporating functional assessments to evaluate how cognitive deficits impact daily activities. This can involve observing the individual performing specific tasks or discussing their functional difficulties and strategies.
- Follow-up and feedback: Provide feedback to the individual and, if applicable, their caregivers, regarding the cognitive assessment results. Discuss implications, recommendations, and strategies to address identified cognitive challenges. Offer resources, educational materials, or referrals to further support their needs.
It’s important to note that cognitive assessments conducted over telehealth may have limitations compared to in-person assessments. Factors such as reduced ability for direct physical interaction, controlled test environments, and limited access to certain assessment tools need to be considered. Adapt your assessment methods accordingly and consult with colleagues or experts in the field to ensure the validity and reliability of your telehealth cognitive assessments.
Leanne Hopkins is an Occupational Therapist at Succeed Healthcare Solutions and is passionate about creating a world where families thrive. If you are a health or education professional seeking an evidence-based multi-disciplinary clinic for your patients/clients that strategically avoids waitlists, please contact us and arrange a free 15-minute Discovery Interview to see how we can assist.