However, not all communication channels are equal.
Here, we suggest some considerations for counselors, providers, and consumers to take into account as they think about which types of telecommunication strategies might work best for them.
- Eliminating phone tag — can reduce the amount of time spent trying to reach consumers by eliminating back and forth messages.
- Flexibility —allows counselors and consumers to address issues as they arise.
- Reducing travel time and cost —can reduce the need to travel to rural locations. However, not all rural locations have consistent internet and cell coverage, so this may not be a possibility for all consumers.
- Extending Reach – Electronic communication can reach individuals who experience barriers in traveling to services, because of distance or due to transportation, accessibility, or disability issues (3–7).
- Increasing Services – Email and the internet can increase consumer choice about providers and improve access to a broader range of services (6,8)
- Consumer Self-Management – Counseling via telecommunication methods allows the consumer more autonomy in the counseling process. Regular appointments are not required, consumers can set their own pace, and they can access services outside of traditional counseling hours (4,6).
- Accessing Online Resources and Services – There are many resources available to consumers online, such as informational websites, support groups, and online classes.
- Accommodating Different Needs – Telecommunications allows people to process information at their own pace (avoiding “overload”) and in an environment that minimizes external sensory inputs (9).
However, the consumer may not be familiar with internet security or confidentiality best practices. If you or the consumer feel uncomfortable sharing information via different telecommunication methods, it may be best to avoid those methods.
See the Telecom Toolbox Ethics page for more information on the ethics of using telecommunication methods.
To learn more about previous RTC:Rural research on VR social media policy analysis, see “6 Essential Elements of Social Media Policy for VR Agencies.”
You can learn more about creating an effective email relationship with a consumer in structuring an email relationship.
Is telecommunication always the best?