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Where telehealth was an option before the COVID-19 pandemic it has now become a necessity. In fact, the medical profession has changed significantly since the crisis began. It shows in recent surveys. Two out of three individuals have used telehealth at least once.
Though a little rough at first, patients and medical officials are starting to get used to the practice. However, there are still plenty of things to work out to make sure those who need help feel good about the results. To help make this happen, here are a few tips to ensure your patients are comfortable during a telehealth visit.
Check-In Ahead Of Time
Check-ins are more important in today’s telehealth world. They ensure the physician has the right information on the patient. Plus, they help keep a record for administrators to track. However, patients can no longer fill out paperwork at the time of the appointment. Some don’t have the necessary software to download material, fill it out, and send it back. Besides, doing this can increase a patient’s tensions.
To correct this, make sure check-ins are done ahead of time and through an online portal. Plus, keep the registration short. Ask for the most pertinent information so they can finish up and be prepared for the appointment. If they’re unsure of what to do, have people available to answer the patient’s questions.
Strong Online Connection
The most problematic issue patients encounter is the online connection between them and their physicians. Sometimes, issues with lag time and poor video/sound are on the doctor’s end. Other times, it’s related to difficulties with the patient’s internet access. While communication over an online portal can correct this somewhat, a better solution is telehealth software. Similar to programs like Zoom, these applications allow for a direct connection between the parties.
Telehealth patients don’t want to jump across multiple sites to handle check-in, billing, and appointments. It’s frustrating enough when they had to do it prior to COVID. Now, that added stress makes the situation more painful. To avoid this, you need to implement a medical Enterprise Resource Platform. Organizations offer these types of packages. Customizable, they track both user and doctor history from the initial registration to the last appointment.
It can be hard when the doctor is in their medical office, but the mask-less conversation is a good way to make patients feel comfortable. They want to have that true face-to-face connection when they speak to their doctor. They don’t want to be blocked by a piece of cloth. This one is more complicated to resolve. The most efficient way to make this happen is to schedule telehealth appointments for one part of the day and in-person meetups later. This way, doctors can work mask-less from their homes.
Don’t Get Distracted
It can be easy to get distracted on a telehealth call. You might be looking at another portion of your computer or swipe through your smartphone away from the camera. This creates a tone of disinterest the patient doesn’t want to see or hear. You need to be mindful during your telehealth meetings. Clear your virtual and physical desktop of any distractions. Put your phone on vibrate and move it to a place where it isn’t easily accessible. Make eye contact with your patient. Talk low and slow to help ease them into the proper comfort level.
Your patients are scared. They fear getting COVID and the complications of the virus. They worry about their jobs, kids, and others who have gotten sick. They don’t want their physician to be cold. More than ever, you need to comfort your patients. No matter if no one in their circle has gotten sick, relate to their feelings and try to assure them things will be okay. Don’t say it as an afterthought. Make sure it’s done with eye contact and genuine feeling.
The world of Telehealth is still changing. More might be able to be done in the future as technology improves. Until then, you need to utilize both your diagnostic and human skills to keep your patients comfortable. It’s the best way for them to get past their fears.