Banty Co-Founder and Medical Director, Dr. Richard Tytus, provided the subject matter and direction for this article. The author would like to thank Adam Grant for his editorial assistance in writing the article. Dr. Richard Tytus takes responsibility for the content of the article.
If you are a doctor who is exploring the possibility of hosting online medical consultations with patients, it’s understandable that you may be a little nervous about making such a change.
After all, you have been practicing within an in-person, face-to-face environment for many years now and have grown to appreciate such a situation. But the world is changing and patients – as well as your healthcare cohorts – are shifting more and more online into the telemedicine space.
This, of course, means having to accept and understand new technology; implement it into your clinic; and get patients onboard. It also means having to think about how to master the art of meeting with patients on a video call.
Here are a handful of tips to get you started:
Get Patients Comfortable with the Environment
Once you have gained familiarity with the online clinic you have created (in conjunction with your brick-and-mortar clinic, of course) it is time to make your patients comfortable.
Not everyone you have an online doctor’s appointment with will trust disclosing sensitive health information over a video call. You need to explain to these patients that the conversations they have with you will remain private, secure, and unavailable to third-parties.
Next, when necessary, be ready to explain the benefits of certain video conference features, as well as how they work. Since individuals have been trusting your opinion for years, you have the power to turn them on to telehealth services.
Do Not Overbook Your Schedule
As you transition to hosting more video calls, logic would tell us that a few hiccups will occur along the way. Either you experience technical difficulties, or patients have trouble logging into your virtual exam room.
Whatever the issue might be, you need to safeguard against it by not overbooking your online doctor’s appointments. Try to give yourself slightly longer gaps between appointments just in case something goes wrong. That way, you’ll avoid running late throughout the day and upsetting patients.
Maintain a Similar Bedside Manner
While video call appointments ultimately mean the patients and you will no longer be in the same room together, this shouldn’t change how you interact with them.
Yes, you will have to be mindful of your video and audio quality, but beyond that, you can still work through medical matters with them the same ways you always have. Deliver the facts/diagnoses in a straightforward, detailed manner, and leave no questions unanswered.
If you like to have casual conversations with patients to put them at ease, keep doing that.
Just because the logistics of a patient’s online doctor visit is different, that doesn’t mean their doctor’s bedside manner should change too much.
Make Great Eye Contact
This may not seem like a big deal, but making great eye contact with your patient in a virtual environment is important. While human nature tells us to stare at a person’s face while interacting with them, it’s different on video calls.
Instead of looking at a patient’s face during a telemedicine appointment (which is essentially just staring at your screen), you’ll have to train your eyes to focus on the camera lens of your computer, tablet, or smartphone. This will lead to better eye contact, which will subsequently lead to patients feeling like they are receiving the great attention you’ve always given them.
Of course, if you are reviewing a patient’s chart, or test results, eye contact can be lessened during that time.
Be Open to Opinions
Whether a patient is upset about the video call experience, late arriving to an appointment, or has trouble figuring out the technology, seriously consider their opinions.
Listening to concerns will help you ease a patient’s transition into virtual medicine. What’s more, it’ll help you determine if your clinic can develop certain procedural changes that’ll make the experience better for everyone involved.
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