Telemedicine visits have been increasingly popular among physicians and patients in the healthcare field. What isn’t talked about as much is video chat etiquette. Treating a patient through a screen can be similar, yet very different from a physical office visit. Some physicians can have trouble making the transition to telemedicine visits since they are stepping into the patient’s world instead of the other way around. Here are some tips to help both physicians and patients reap the benefits.
7 Tips for Telemedicine Visits
1. Use high-quality equipment
This one might be a given, but it still needs to be said. This includes webcams, sound equipment, lighting, and even just the device in general. High-quality webcams will help your patient be able to clearly see you and hopefully limit any glitches. With a clear view during telemedicine visits, the patient will feel more comfortable.
Using high-quality sound equipment such as microphones and speakers will help with communicating clearly and understanding each other. They don’t have to be expensive, but investing in a good set will pay off in the long run. Headsets are also a great option for virtual appointments.
As for lighting, overhead lights can usually do the job. Blocking light from windows will limit the amount of background light in the video and make it easier for the patient to see you.
2. Set up a professional space
Whether you are in a home office, an exam room, or an office outside of your home, there are a few guidelines to follow. Make sure the space is quiet and clean, and also check what the patient will be able to see by testing your webcam before. Eliminate the chance for any distractions, such as people walking through or noises in the background. In addition, it’s best to sit at a desk or table if possible.
3. Read your patient’s complaint and have their chart available
Prepare for telemedicine visits the same way you would for physical office visits. Read your patient’s complaint and have their chart ready for the appointment. Familiarizing yourself beforehand will make the appointment much more efficient and productive for both parties.
4. Dress appropriately
Don’t show up for your telemedicine appointment in sweats and a t-shirt. Dress as though you were going into the office for an appointment. Presenting yourself professionally will give patients more confidence in your role and allow them to feel more comfortable speaking with you.
5. Engage your patient
Always make eye contact when doing telemedicine visits. This can be hard for some physicians to remember because looking at the person’s eyes on the screen will not give you eye contact. Looking directly at the webcam will give the patient the feeling of you making eye contact with them. Engaging your patients in virtual visits can also involve nodding as they speak and asking the right questions. This will help your patient feel like they are being heard and you really are there to help.
6. Communicate effectively
Start the visit by using your patient’s name. By using their name, it makes the visit more informal and gives a sense of comfort. You might not be able to do a physical exam, but follow your normal guidelines for asking questions and conversing with patients.
Also be aware of your behavioral communication. Even if you’re not speaking, a patient can still see you and what you’re doing. If you have to look away to write something down or do something, let them know. This way, there’s no miscommunication about whether you’re paying attention or not.
7. Define post-appointment instructions
Knowing what to do after a telemedicine visit can be more confusing than an office appointment since there’s no physical paper with instructions. Make sure your patient knows if they should pick up an electronically prescribed medication from a pharmacy or schedule a follow-up appointment. You can also use this time to ask the patient what they thought of the virtual appointment and use their feedback to improve your next appointment.