Since the pandemic began, there has been an increased adoption by healthcare practitioners using telemedicine as a way to provide treatments including specialist care. There is good evidence that various health services can be delivered competently through different media and it is possible to build up strong patient-doctor relationships that are as strong as those formed in face-to-face consultations.
Teleconsultations are different from office visits and may take time to become familiar with the process. There are also local legislations to consider as well as security and accessibility of patient records. There are also various other points to consider when providing telehealth consultations.
On the day of the consultation, check that all technology is working correctly. Ensure the patient has fully-functioning equipment as well. More importantly, confirm that a virtual consultation is clinically appropriate for the patient as far in advance as possible.
You’ll also want to ensure immediate access to the patient’s clinical record. Make all the necessary requests prior to the telehealth visit if possible. It’s a good idea to prepare the patient with a checklist well in advance of the appointment so they may prepare themselves also.
2. Equipment and Fast Internet Speed
Virtual or in-office visits can feel the same when a health visit conducted through video conferencing is performed correctly. A fundamental part of a successful virtual consultation is quality equipment for all involved. Both you and your patient need to have quality apps and tech equipment such as a smartphone or laptop for the best possible virtual treatment results.
The key is ensuring high-quality video resolution and sound. Nothing is more distracting and frustrating to a patient than blurry, delayed, or poor sound quality. You’re not going to create a favorable experience for your patients if your video stream is constantly freezing or lagging. It’s essential that both parties have a fast enough internet connection of at least 15 Mbps download and 5 Mbps upload to support a live video feed.
Additionally, make sure the video conferencing software you are using is HIPAA-compliant to protect your patient’s information. As healthcare providers, we have a duty to patients to take the necessary precautions to ensure that the patient’s data is secure.
You may discuss how the client’s privacy will be protected at the beginning of the session. You may also want to inform your clients which platform you are using for telehealth services.
4. Practice Makes Perfect
Talking to a web camera might feel awkward at first, but with practice, it can become more natural. If you’re comfortable, your patients are more likely to feel comfortable which sets the stage for productive therapy sessions. Practicing prior to the consultation can build confidence in the new way of practicing medicine.
5. Privacy and Comfort
The environment you conduct sessions in needs to be professional. You need a neatly organized quiet space with a neutral background and appropriate lighting. Some top things to remember when providing a telehealth service is:
- Eliminate visual distractions
- Low noise level
- Eye contact
Remove anything you would not want your client to see and ensure that you have enough lighting to make eye contact with your client. Encourage your clients to join the session in a private space with minimal distractions.
6. Patient Guidance
Your patients will need guidance on things such as having the right equipment to include a fast internet connection. Consider creating a list of best practices to distribute to your patients. They will need guidance on the following:
- How they can join the virtual consultation session
- Equipment they will need
- Ensure their internet connection speed is sufficient
It’s advised that you make sure the patient has a quiet and comfortable place as well as the preferred telehealth solution. You may also want to encourage your clients to write down notes on anything they want to cover during the session.
7. Tele-Side Manner
Make sure you follow the same etiquette as you would for an in-office visit.
- Ask the patient if they need anything explained.
- Take note of the patient’s phone number in case the video link fails for any reason.
- To test the technical quality, say something like: “Can you hear me?” and “Can you see me?” This will also prompt the patient to optimize their own technical set-up.
- Make sure to gain the patient’s verbal and explicit consent for the video consultation.
- If there is a nurse or medical assistant in your room, introduce them and gain approval from the patient for them to attend and assist with the teleconsultation. Likewise, ask for an introduction of anyone who is joining the patient.
- Reassure the patient that the consultation is likely to be similar to an office visit and that the consultation is confidential and secure.
- Make sure to ask the patient if they feel comfortable and wish to continue the consultation.
- There is no need to look directly into the camera to demonstrate engagement. Looking at the screen is perfectly acceptable.
- Make sure to inform the patient when you are taking notes or reading something on another screen.
- Be aware that video communication may be challenging for the patient and requires patience and clear language.
8. Record for Reference
You should be sure to document each session. Consider how you will take notes during each session and what should be included in your notes. You may want to consider muting your audio, as keyboard typing can be loud.
If you run into any technical issues before or during the session, you may want to jot these down as well, along with how you were able to troubleshoot.
Get all your payment ducks in a row. Verification of the patient’s benefits prior to providing them with any telehealth services offers efficiency and instant reimbursements in some cases.
10. Session Closing:
Be particularly careful to summarize key points. It is possible that information was missed due to technical interference. To end, tell the patient you’re going to close the call now, and say goodbye before ending the connection.
While healthcare treatment etiquette should be the same across all delivery methods, there are several telehealth platforms that are challenging to operate. There is also legislation, security and reimbursement concerns that are still not addressed. The Global Telehealth Exchange (GTHE) solves these problems for both the provider and their patients.
GTHE offers many solutions with a simple to operate platform that offers unprecedented security, instant payments, no paperwork, and access to patients worldwide.
GTHE is a HIPAA compliant solution with enhanced data security. And it’s one of the best solutions for providing telehealth consultations and works efficiently across many specialties. GTHE puts the joy back into practicing medicine and allows providers to treat patients with quality care for specialist needs on a global scale.
Sign up today and see for yourself!