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.
Thanks to the COVID-19 global pandemic, more and more doctors were forced to adjust how they treat patients. For many, this meant finally using a telehealth solution as a way to meet with patients throughout various lockdowns and public health measures.
While most virtual medicine solutions came with exceptional support tools for doctors unsure about how to use such an online platform, most tips were tech-related. Not many – if any – relayed to healthcare professionals how to successfully conduct themselves while hosting an online doctor’s appointment.
Of course, the transition from an in-person to a video call patient appointment came naturally to some doctors. Others, meanwhile, would struggle with navigating technology at the same time as trying to provide the best care possible for patients.
As we all know, having a great bedside manner is important for both you, the physician, as well as patients. You want to know that you are interacting with patients in a helpful, attentive manner. Meanwhile, patients want to know that online medicine appointments will have the same quality as ones held at an actual clinic.
If you, or some of your colleagues are unsure about how to show the best bedside manner during a telehealth appointment, here are some helpful tips:
When you walk into a room and a patient is on the exam table, you are ready to go. You have their chart in hand and can quickly process what needs to happen next. Now, this step may feel a bit different when seeing a patient remotely.
However, if your clinic has established a system in which proper patient information is relayed to you ahead of you logging into the appointment, then you should be good to go.
Even if you have to first greet your patient before completely running through the chart, that is not the end of the world. The goal, though, is to not give the patient the impression that you are less prepared simply because the appointment is happening in an online environment.
Maintain a Similar Demeanor
While it is easy to feel different when communicating with a patient via camera versus in the same room together, you should not let this change in approach change how you interact.
If you like to spend a few minutes casually breaking the ice with patients before getting into the nitty gritty, then keep doing that during online doctor visits.
Some patients will look for any excuse to dismiss the effectiveness of virtual medicine. However, if they still feel as comfortable with you online as they would walking into your office, then chances are you will be able to keep these patients interested in future telemedicine appointments.
Address Concerns and Do Not Force Telehealth
You will occasionally run into situations in which a patient has a lot of concerns about telehealth. As the doctor responsible for how these appointments are being hosted, hear the patient out. Identify their concerns and do your best to quell them. If necessary, provide any tech guidance that could be requested of you.
If after all of that the patient does not want to continue with virtual medicine appointments, do not try to force them to continually partake. Simply relay that you understand their perspective and will not push them into online medicine sessions if they don’t like the experience.
By having a passive approach here, you have a better chance of a patient eventually coming around to the idea of telehealth. What’s more, you will not damage the positive rapport you have spent years cultivating with the patient.