Over the past couple of years, telemedicine has been a critical tool in ensuring continuous care for millions of patients. Even as in-office appointments have become possible again, telehealth visits continue to grow in popularity among patients and healthcare providers alike.
However, the rapid change and adoption of technology continue to be stressful for many health practitioners. Video fatigue, overwork, and burnout are a problem for many as they struggle to balance their work with innovation.
Here are 5 ways to streamline and improve your telemedicine practices to ensure a better experience for you and your patients:
#1 - Prep Your Patients in Advance:
Virtual health visits are still new for many patients. They may feel anxious or uneasy about using this new technology for the first time, especially older populations. The more you prepare your patients for their visit, the smoother the appointment will be.
Patients may not understand when something needs to be evaluated in person and may seek out virtual care when an appointment in a facility is actually more appropriate. Minimizing remote appointments that should be in-person ahead of time will improve efficiency.
Consent forms and questionnaires can be a great way to give patients a better understanding of how telemedicine appointments work. Also, sending written instructions on how to use your platform and what is expected of them will help make them feel more comfortable. It will also help patients decide if a telehealth appointment is appropriate for their health concerns.
#2 - Get the Right Virtual Setup:
One of the most underestimated aspects of virtual care is the right video conferencing setup. The right equipment in a well-lit office and wearing professional attire will help put the patient at ease and make them more comfortable opening up and sharing their health concerns. Plus, the right audio equipment will ensure no communication problems with your patient.
Creating the proper setup will ensure better communication while giving your patients the best possible experience. Select a solid color background, such as a plain wall or solid-colored fabric. Reduce unnecessary noise such as fans or outside traffic. Also, keep lights in front of you instead of behind you. An inexpensive ring light will help create a more professional environment to help improve the patient experience.
#3 - Consider Accessibility Functions:
When creating processes and visual setups, ensure that you have the proper arrangements for those with disabilities or those who are unable to use technology efficiently. For example, Deaf or hearing-impaired patients may require alternative means of communication such as an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter or other accessibility functionality.
#4 - Convey Empathy in Your Virtual Health Setting:
A telemedicine platform is a very different atmosphere from an in-person appointment, but conveying empathy is still critical to patient care. It takes different verbal and non-verbal cues to show patients that you are engaged in the conversation and empathetic to their issues. Here are some tips for displaying empathy during telehealth appointments:
- Ask questions to establish the provider-patient relationship such as, “Is this your first telehealth appointment?”
- Acknowledge what patients tell you and validate their feelings by saying things like, “I am sorry that you don’t feel well, that sounds painful.”
- Address emotional cues such as a sad face or angry posture with questions showing your concern.
- Use non-verbal communication cues, such as leaning into the camera or nodding to convey understanding.
Patients need to feel supported and heard, but how that is conveyed over video differs from in-person. Make a conscious effort to display empathy in ways that patients can connect within a virtual health space.
#5 - Always Follow-Up:
Care continuity can be an issue in telemedicine. Providers must follow up with patients to ensure they understand what was discussed and they don’t have any additional questions.
Automated emails and text notifications can help with effective follow-up, which won’t require much additional physician time. However, they will go a long way in providing an extra personal touch after their appointment and ensure patients were heard and their questions are answered..
Creating a Better Virtual Care Experience for Patients Can Help Reduce Clinician Burnout
As more providers offer telemedicine appointments for patients, creating a more efficient telehealth workflow will improve the patient experience and reduce fatigue and frustration for clinicians. Even a few simple changes will ensure a smoother process for everyone!
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