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.
One of the biggest concerns doctors have about switching from exclusively in-person appointments to a blended approach that includes patient video calls, is that it’ll uproot a practice’s consistency.
For years, doctors have worked hard to get their clinic running like a well-oiled machine. From a workflow and procedural point-of-view, surprises are few and far between, thanks to the implementation and execution of well-conceived processes. Thus, adding a virtual medicine element could prove frightful for some.
However, what needs to be understood is that a doctor, their staff, and the clinic as a whole can still remain consistent even once online medicine appointments begin to happen. Yes, taking this step into unfamiliar grounds may feel risky at first, but in the long run it’ll be realized such a change was never a threat to how well a practice can function.
Have a Familiar Approach
The key to having successful online doctor’s appointments is – as much as possible – taking processes developed for in-person patient care and applying them to doctor-patient video conferences.
Sure, there may be some finagling required to make this work, but it will by no means feel like you are trying to cram a round peg into a triangular hole. Better yet, by keeping processes relatively familiar, the easier it will be to get the clinical team comfortable working with a telemedicine solution.
Ultimately, the less you over-think what the addition of a virtual medicine solution to your day-to-day medical clinic workflow, the clearer your path to success will be.
Maintain a Natural Bedside Manner
While there will be a collection of patients excited to no longer have to travel in for every single medical appointment booked with you, others will feel anxious and uncomfortable about having a video call with their doctor.
One way to get past this is to maintain virtual bedside manner that is not too unlike what you’d offer during in-person appointments. This means, continue to exchange pleasantries at the outset of an appointment and not let the device being used (i.e., tablet, smartphone, or computer) feel like a wall between you and the patient.
From there, speak with the patient regarding the medical matter at hand in a direct, compassionate manner while making eye contact. Then, when applicable, go over diagnoses and treatment options and give the patient the option to ask any questions they have.
If test results, x-rays, or treatment plans need to be visually shown to a patient, use the virtual medicine’s solution’s screen share tool to communicate those details.
Avoid Tech Hiccups Where Possible
When entering any video conference with a patient, being technologically prepared is absolutely crucial. At various points of the day, double-check to see that your Internet connection is where it needs to be.
If conducting appointments from a laptop or mobile device, keep an eye on the battery power remaining and be sure to charge when necessary.
For those who use connectable webcams and microphones, always see they’re plugged in tightly and that patients can see and hear you clearly.
Avoiding tech hiccups where possible is important for any clinic hoping to make a successful run at virtual medicine. Frequent glitches can frustrate patients and clinical staff alike, making this format of appointment undesirable for these parties.
However, if your tech diligence leads to a consistent, error-free online doctor visit for all involved, the more likely it is that virtual services will be embraced.
Of course, some appointments will still need to be in-person, but having a crisp, quick and secure telehealth service available helps minimize the need to drag people into the clinic when it shouldn’t be necessary.