Telehealth services are an exciting opportunity for providers in all areas to deliver service to patients who, for several reasons, are unable to attend in-person appointments. Telehealth can expand physicians’ physical reach and offer generalized and specialty services to a wider audience. Here, Dr. Joel Arun Sursas reveals 7 steps to building a telehealth practice that ensures an enjoyable and healing patient experience.
Start with quality equipment
To provide the most successful telehealth experience, you need to make sure you have high-quality equipment. This includes a laptop or desktop computer as well as a high-quality webcam and headphones.
Headphones are important so that all of the patient’s information stays confidential and is not overheard. The last thing you want is your patient’s appointment to be disrupted because you have faulty equipment where the audio is cutting out and the visual display is blurry and freezing.
Ensure you have adequate lighting in your space so the patient can see you clearly. Unprofessional lighting can lead to your patient feeling disconnected, as they won’t see your face. Adequate lighting can be achieved by facing a window or setting a lamp next to you, rather than light pouring in from behind.
Use secure telehealth platform
Even when practicing medicine via telehealth, you need to make sure you are staying in compliance with HIPAA laws. Make sure you are using a secure platform that is going to encrypt all patient data and keep it secure. Mentioning that you are using a secure platform will improve trust and rapport with your patient, which will help the call go as smoothly as possible.
Look the part
Just because telehealth allows you to work from home does not mean you should show up to your telehealth consultations wearing casual clothing. You must still dress the part and look professional for your patient to feel comfortable and cared for. If you wear a white coat during in-office visits, throw your coat on before your telehealth visits .
Set up a dedicated space
Set up a dedicated space for your telehealth visits, whether it’s in your office at work or at home. It should be somewhere quiet that has a door that can close to give the patient privacy and minimize loud noises and other distractions .
Being engaging and staying connected is a little more challenging when using telehealth platforms versus in-person visits, but it’s not impossible.
Show that you are engaged during the visit with the patient by listening attentively, making eye contact, and nodding to let the patient know that you are listening. Since communication via webcam can sometimes feel clunky, you should let your patient know that you are listening rather than leave them guessing.
If you need to take notes during the visit, let your patient know that you are going to take notes, so they don’t think you have lost interest or that you are checking your phone when you look down.
Be patient, anticipate problems
As we know, technology can be finicky, and problems may arise, especially when we are first getting started.
If issues with technology arise, stay calm, and don’t let your patient see your frustration. Have the IT number handy, so you can quickly resolve any technical issues if needed. Keep your patient in the loop if you are troubleshooting, and they are sure to give you the space you need to solve the problem at hand.
Virtual patient monitoring
These days, it’s easier than ever to monitor patients virtually. Wearable medical devices and monitors make it easy to check in with patients without having to see them in the office. Use this to your advantage. Just make sure the patient is well-versed in how to properly use their wearable devices and ensure that they are reporting everything properly.
Telehealth is booming after the COVID-19 outbreak since it offers a safer way to address common illnesses. Many physicians and patients prefer to set up a virtual visit instead of driving to the doctor’s office. Offer your patients an alternative to a traditional in-person visit and set up your own telehealth practice with these simple steps.
About Joel Arun Sursas:
Joel Arun Sursas holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Medicine and Bachelor’s Degree in Surgery from the National University of Singapore and is continuing his education to obtain a Certificate in Safety, Quality, Informatics and Leadership from the Harvard Medical School, and Masters in Applied Health Science Informatics from the Johns Hopkins University (both expected in 2020). His technical skills include SPSS, RevMan, and Python. Dr. Joel Arun Sursas‘ most recent engagement is with a medical device start-up company Biorithm where he serves as Head of Clinical Affairs, working to take fetal surveillance out of the hospital and into the home, revolutionizing the obstetric practice globally.
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