As the world of healthcare merges with the world of technology, it has become imperative to adapt and taper the experience. Patients are being drawn to telemedicine in the wake of the pandemic and a range of healthcare inequalities. The new merger requires providers to develop their communication skills by adopting strategies that will ensure that the patient has a positive, complete experience. Leaving the customer feeling that something was lacking is not good for business or the patient themselves. The advent of telehealth introduces new challenges in the doctor-patient relationship. To address this issue, there is a range of telemedicine communication tips discussed in detail below.
Telehealth Tips for Providers
Apart from the quality of service, there are four primary ways in which doctors can ensure a good telemedicine patient experience:
- Keeping up appearances
- Preparing for virtual visits
- Establishing rapport and communicating compassion
- Simple language, focus, and teach-back
Telemedicine Communication Tips
Telehealth Tips for Providers: Keeping up appearances: Every patient wants to feel that their doctor is a competent individual. If uncertainty bleeds into the experience, it may cause dissatisfaction. Looking at the part is crucial for creating that confidence in the patient. All doctors must wear a white coat. The men should have a necktie on and have it tied neatly around their neck. The look of a well-put-together doctor may help put the patient at ease if they are nervous. Dressing the part instills confidence in the patient, especially if they are using it for the first time. Moreover, another aspect of appearances is body language. Doctors are taught physical cues which must be used for virtual visits. Clinicians must look into the camera, avoid taking notes and looking down, and ensure that their work setting is not free of noise pollution and other distractions which may disturb the patient.
Telehealth Tips for Providers: Preparation: Preparing for a visit is beneficial not only for the doctor but also for the patient. The telehealth environment must be well-equipped to conduct a well-rounded visit. Firstly, there must be an effective and quick broadband internet set up to ensure that there are no disruptions in the encounter from your end. Recent advents in technology have allowed telehealth providers to conduct limited physical exams through the use of peripheral technology. Doctors can now listen to heart, lung, and abdominal sounds and look at the back of someone’s throat. These new possibilities push the boundaries of telehealth visits. Therefore, having access to all remote care tools and having the adequate training to utilize them effectively is essential for a good, seamless telehealth encounter. However, it must be noted that providing effective care goes beyond mere preparation of tools. Doctors must understand the patient’s history by reviewing their file. They must understand their equipment. Doctors must be quick to act when they need to troubleshoot, ensure their cameras are working and their voice is clear through the mic. In addition, the speakers must also have a good placement. Furthermore, the room they are in must be private and secure in addition to having good and bright lighting. It must also be silent and free of other kinds of distractions. Visible doors in the background are often a source of discomfiture for patients who may be concerned about someone overhearing sensitive personal health information or having their visit derailed by a third party. Doctors that deliver telehealth from their homes must be especially cognizant of these things.
Telehealth Tips for Providers: Rapport and compassion: Virtual meetings and encounters are usually sterile. It is a challenge to create a warm and inviting environment in a virtual visit. Even if the quality of care is up to par, patients may still feel dissatisfied with the service they are getting if they feel that their connection with the provider is not effective and warm. The screen and the short duration of time are especially limiting in terms of cultivating a warm connection. Thus, creating rapport immediately by listening and looking into the camera is important. Doctors must look into the webcam instead of the screen, which may help establish a sense of connection quicker. Moreover, doctors must be compassionate and empathetic by making a non-medical connection with the patient, explaining the protocol, and soliciting patient questions when they are applicable. Doctors should also smile when they greet the patient, use empathetic statements and avoid educational spiels.
Telehealth Tips for Providers: Simple language, focus, and teach-back: Building on the last point, it is imperative that doctors use plain and simple language when speaking with patients. Analogies should be straightforward, and information must be broken up in chunks to make it easily digestible. In addition, the doctor should engage the patient in agenda-setting by prioritizing what will be discussed. They must focus on the important things that the patient must have knowledge of, such as their diagnosis and their treatment instructions. Lastly, the doctor should practice teach-back by asking the patient to repeat what they heard to gauge if the patient understood his or her instructions.