The COVID-19 pandemic had everyone transition into the new normal and that includes all healthcare professionals. Health institutions have to relocate their resources to combat the pandemic effectively and in turn, certain measures were placed in order to continue providing quality health-related services to non-COVID cases.
The rise of telemedicine provided both a solution and a problem for both physicians and patients alike. The availability of such services paved the way for a safe and easy way to practice while improving your abilities to stay connected to your patients.
However, telemedicine has its own downfalls compared to in-person appointments but most of these can be remedied by preparing yourself and having proper oversight. Here are some tips to make sure that you and your patient will get the most out of your online appointment without compromising the quality of healthcare:
Since you’re basically doing everything that you normally do online, it’s important that your way of communication is clear. Having the right software and hardware will make each of your appointments efficient and effective.
Start with the right platform to use. When it comes to videoconferencing, there are so many applications on the market that you could use which is why you have to take the time to find the right one for you. It could be as basic as Skype or Zoom or other software programs that are designed for telemedicine communication.
Having the right gadgets and if applicable, accessories will also help you make things easier for yourself and your patient. One thing that you should invest in is a good web camera. If you’re on your phone or tablet, chances are, the built-in camera will work more than fine but when it comes to your laptop, it might be different. When patients can clearly see your face, they’ll respond positively to the visit because communication is much better.
Another thing is to set your camera at an eye-level whether you’re using a built-in or external camera. It’s much easier to maintain eye contact with your patient. Plus, it’s a sign of professionalism as well. Having someone’s face shown at an angle that’s not appropriate for proper communication paves way for distraction.
That’s the same with your microphone. Test out the microphone and speakers of your device to make sure that you won’t have any audio problems. If you’re with other staff in the same room, remember that not using a pair of earphones with a microphone would mean that your device’s microphone will pick up everyone’s voices.
This is a no-brainer. Since you’re relying on the Internet to see your patients, it’s unprofessional and rude for you to keep on disconnecting. Remember that these visits are time-limited so as a sign of respect for your time, your patients, and your next one, do everything that is needed on your side to have uninterrupted visits.
If possible, use a wired connection (like your ethernet cable) instead of WiFi or mobile data. It’s less prone to interruptions and much stable regardless of weather conditions.
It’s important to designate a workspace for you to conduct your online consultations. It doesn’t matter if you’re in your office or your home, just make sure that the space is quiet and distraction-free. You have to make sure that it’s a private place as well because even in online consultations, you still have to ensure your patient’s privacy.
If you’re in your house and you have other people with you, it’s better to let them know your schedule so they won’t accidentally go into your room while you’re having a consultation. It’s a good idea to set your backdrop to something neutral. Do this on your software or have your back facing a wall or any background that’s suitable. Fix your lighting as well because it greatly affects the quality of your video.
Since you’re communicating online, it’s really easy for you to multitask on your device and do something else while you’re in a consultation. Remove these distractions as much as possible. Close unnecessary programs and tabs on your computer. Not only it’ll keep you focused on the job, but it will also free up bandwidth, so your Internet connection runs smoother. If possible, close everything and just have your telemedicine platform open.
In telemedicine, you have to treat it as if you’re still doing your in-person checkups. That means following the same clinical guidelines you would do during an in-person appointment. Even if you can’t do the usual physical exam, you have to be creative and convey it through questions. While the interaction is different and you’re not on your usual set-up, the job stays the same as well as the designated protocols.
It’s easier to check if your patient could understand your instructions or anything that you explain to them in real life. But in telemedicine, it’s harder to get your point across so make sure that you take the extra step to be understood by your patient.
Make use of your telemedicine platform. Most software allows your screen to be shared. If you think you need some visual aids to explain something, then fire it up on your PowerPoint and turn on your screen sharing.
It’s important to stay engaged throughout the call. It’s much harder to communicate online because the nuances of body language can’t be seen so you’re mostly relying on their facial expression and their voice. Maintain eye contact all the time and give some sort of indication that you’re listening to them. Nod frequently to show your understanding and if you’re taking down notes or looking at something else, make sure that you inform your patient first. It’s easy to misunderstand those gestures because it could come across as you’re not paying attention.