In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, psychologists were pushed to look beyond traditional in-person models of neurodevelopmental assessment to maintain continuity of care. A wealth of data demonstrates that telehealth is efficacious for pediatric behavioral intervention; however, best practices for incorporating telehealth into neurodevelopmental assessment are yet to be developed. In this topical review, we propose a conceptual model to demonstrate how telehealth can be incorporated into various components of neurodevelopmental assessment.
Harnessing existing literature and expertise from a multidisciplinary task force comprised of clinicians, researchers, and patient/parent representatives from the subspecialty of cardiac neurodevelopmental care, a conceptual framework for telehealth neurodevelopmental assessment was developed. Considerations for health equity and access to care are discussed, as well as general guidelines for clinical implementation and gaps in existing literature.
There are opportunities to integrate telehealth within each stage of neurodevelopmental assessment, from intake to testing, through to follow-up care. Further research is needed to determine whether telehealth mitigates or exacerbates disparities in access to care for vulnerable populations as well as to provide evidence of validity for a wider range of neurodevelopmental measures to be administered via telehealth.
While many practices are returning to traditional, face-to-face neurodevelopmental assessment services, psychologists have a unique opportunity to harness the momentum for telehealth care initiated during the pandemic to optimize the use of clinical resources, broaden service delivery, and increase access to care for pediatric neurodevelopmental assessment.