Telehealth Video Visits: 6 Ways to Be More Effective
As every technology demands a specific skill set to have it mastered, telemedicine and telehealth also have a certain set of pre-requisites to be conformed to for achieving the ultimate healthcare aims. One may be a great physician but the same person may not prove to be a great telemedicine physician as the skills, technology and surrounding conditions are different for both the environments. The clinical set up is a familiar and well-practiced mannerism for both – the patients and the doctors whereas the virtual set up is comparatively a novice concept that has to be handled intelligently and diligently to obtain success as a therapy procedure. According to a survey done by the government authorities in 2012, nearly 42% of the hospitals have telehealth capabilities. However, the skillset required for a successful telehealth video visit is something that is beyond the routine medical school curriculum.
Unlike the spacious, sophisticated hospital facilities, the virtual healthcare visits are restricted to just a small screen of a desktop, tablet, laptop, or even as small as a smartphone. The verbal and non-verbal communications through that window is the primary factor responsible for establishing a rapport between the physician and the patient. The first virtual meeting determines whether and how the diagnosis proceeds, and also whether the patient would want to continue the treatment or not. In a video encounter, there is a kind of professionalism and even a dress code that displays a proper presentation. However, most of the doctors still aren’t getting it right. There are even training schedules for clinicians given by teaching hospitals as well as universities that offer courses on telemedicine.
When trying to go online, here are six recommendations for doctors to encourage a successful online therapy:
- Plan your video visit with the patient: Some video patient visits may simply be a face-to-face communication via video, and the focus or "planning" for the visit is much like a routine visit and patient discussion. However -- if this would be a follow-up visit for an injury or surgery, or if this is a first-time video visit about an injury, the video visit and interaction quickly becomes much more complicated, and if not planned correctly, you can spend much more time about communication challenges than the medical situation at hand.
How will you instruct your patient to place their video device to be able to see their swollen ankle or body part that is not easily seen from the desk? How would you instruct them to be able to effectively do a stretch or movement to demonstrate mobility to you? If they have a desktop, laptop, tablet, or phone -- what are the differences? How will they get their device to stand-upright to be able to focus it effectively? How far should they stand away from the device?
While these questions may seem simple, I can assure you they are not and can cost you valuable time on a video visit. While they are more convenient and typically take less time and effort than an in-person visit, without proper planning -- it could cost you much more time. Plan and even practice a mock-session with your staff, and possibly prepare a training document or communication to your patients on what to expect, and what to have handy for an effective time with you.
- Address patients by their first names: Trying to be less formal and more responsive is the key to letting an open conversation in and makes patients more comfortable with the treatment procedure. Using a more personal tone induces a patient-provider bond that isn’t just about the numbers. A smile on the physician’s face and proper gestures during conversation induces confidence in the patients’ minds.
- Pause and listen: On an average, a patient needs roughly 32 seconds to explain their health related issues to the physician while observations state that most of the doctors cut the patients off just within 20 seconds only to redirect the conversation. This may lead to less faith from the patient and some unheard gaps in the healthcare condition described that would otherwise help with the diagnosis. Be patient and listen to them more as in a telehealth video visit, the majority of the interaction is verbal cues and interactions, as well as the video non-verbal attributes to the conversation.
- Introduce yourself and share information related to the care procedure: For patients to have confidence in the physician in a new provider introduction via telehealth video, the patient may want to know more about the physician's professional background and practice techniques. This builds trust and improves patient engagement throughout the care. The patient must remember the doctor’s name for a better connection.
- Acknowledge the patient’s concerns: A patient is the one who needs maximum attention to obtain better care results. So, he must communicate his concerns and symptoms clearly. Agree to what the patient says and confirm an understanding and indicating compassion is key, instead of dismissing the patient's approach, and then slowly guide the conversation into the right diagnosis and treatment path direction. This may seem easy, but it is challenging at times. Remember -- the patient is not necessarily having the additional experiences of office welcome, check-in, friendly chats upon entry, and other warm experiences to acclimate and process possible anxieties before they see the physician --in a telehealth video visit, the patient's first interaction is probably with the physician.
Maintain transparency with the patients: Whatever it is, make it clear to the patient as they will surely appreciate the genuine approach and will be more confident with the treatment procedure. Although patients may expect the doctors to diagnose their problem immediately, it is always not possible. It’s better to admit that you need to consult a specialist or perform some research. However, while doing this it is really important to have a proper body posture for the patient to believe in your words, as the patient experience is a much different experience digitally vs. in-person and posture and non-verbal cues are even more important via telehealth video.
Healthcare is transforming to deliver patient satisfaction and reduce the costs of medication and care coordination. Telehealth has emerged to be a disruptive technology that is potentially endangering the traditional healthcare delivery due to the increased positive response from patients and cost-effectiveness. Due to growing popularity of patient engagement by implementing telemedicine, there have been several changes in the governmental policies too.
With so many initiatives spurring up for the establishment of modern healthcare practices, care providers must implement strategies that enable better healthcare delivery to patients through telehealth visits. Telehealth video visits will take time and many experiences with patients to become proficient. It will take practice to portray the best of the services across a video screen, and also be able to get patients to communicate effectively with you as well.
With the Lifecycle Health, you can quickly have a telehealth video platform for performing effective patient video visits, and also for collaborating with other providers.
However, Lifecycle health is not only telehealth video, the Lifecycle Health platform will also allow you to automate follow-up visits and monitor patients, trend patient and population outcomes, and communicate with your patients more efficiently with secure messaging.
All in a single platform - web and mobile.
To learn more about our sophisticated value care platform and to know how we coordinate along the patient’s continuum of care, please visit http://www.lifecyclehealth.com/.