Improving your ‘webside’ manner: Tips for a better telehealth visit
Whether your practice has offered telehealth services for years or you’re new to virtual care, brushing up on your “webside” manner can ensure patients feel heard and understood during telehealth visits.
Simply put, your webside manner is the way you communicate and interact with patients in digital formats such as telehealth visits. Just as a good bedside manner can reassure patients and alleviate their concerns, a welcoming webside manner can put patients at ease in a virtual visit.
Not sure where to start? Take these seven steps to ensure a good webside manner:
Set up a secure, professional environment for the telehealth visit
Whether you’re conducting the telehealth visit from your practice or your home, ensure you have a professional environment and a background free of distractions. By conducting the virtual visit in a secluded, quiet room, you can speak without using headphones and make the visit feel more personal.
Here are a few more tips to keep in mind:
To avoid getting cut off mid-session, iron out any technical issues related to webcam resolution, internet speed, and audio equipment before the visit.
Use a secure solution to protect patient privacy.
Turn off the picture-in-picture feature if you can. But, if you prefer to use this feature, try to resist the temptation to watch yourself on the screen.
Don’t sit with a window behind you. Otherwise, you will appear in shadows.
For the best lighting, ensure you’re in a brightly lit space or follow hospital lighting standards.
If possible, dress as you would for in-person visits, whether in a white lab coat or scrubs. If you’d prefer not to wear your normal work attire, choose a business professional outfit.
Solid light colors, especially neutral tones or lighter shades of blue, work best for video visits, while dark colors or patterns can seem unfriendly or distracting.
Put your patient at ease
When seeing new patients, be sure to introduce yourself. Take time to reassure patients that their data is secure and answer any questions they may have.
For all telehealth visits, acknowledge the unique situation and patients’ location by saying something like, “Thank you for inviting me in your home today!” It’s more powerful than simply asking, “How can I help you?”
If patients seem apprehensive, add a statement such as “I realize this kind of visit may be new for you. I appreciate your willingness to give it a try.” Noticing and acknowledging their hesitancy speaks to your willingness to understand their situation, beyond the reason for their appointment.
Connect through clear communication and intentional listening
Just as with in-person visits, connecting with your patients is a priority during a telehealth visit. Acknowledge that you are listening by giving feedback such as “I hear concern in your voice. Tell me more about this.” Use your own words to paraphrase what the patient says.
To communicate clearly, avoid abbreviations and medical jargon since patients may be less likely to ask clarifying questions in a virtual visit.
Eliminate distracting body language
When you’re on camera in a virtual visit, your actions are magnified.
Follow these tips to ensure your body language is helping — not hurting — your communication:
Look at the camera when you speak. For virtual visits, it’s the equivalent of eye contact. However, when the patient is speaking, watch the screen instead of looking at the camera.
Position your camera at eye level.
Keep your hands free and try not to fidget or tap your fingers.
Sit up straight to indicate that you are fully engaged.
Stay seated and watch out for rocking movements that can distract your patients.
Avoid eating or drinking during the visit.
Minimize hand motions, since these can be distracting or cut off by the video frame. Instead, use positive body language. Nod to show understanding, lean forward to appear interested, and maintain an open chest to communicate confidence.
Adjust your note-taking for telehealth visits
If possible, during the visit, avoid using your computer for any purpose other than viewing patients. However, if you do need to look up something on your computer, let patients know that you’re researching information related to the visit and ask them to wait a moment.
If you choose to take notes on your computer or in your EHR during the visit, explain briefly with a statement such as “I want to make sure I capture your story accurately, so I’ll be typing as we talk.”
Close by answering questions and reviewing the treatment plan
At the end of the telehealth visit, wrap as usual by reviewing the treatment plan and discussing next steps. Make sure you leave time at the end to answer questions and check that patients understand any diagnosis or recommendations given.
With just a few adjustments, you can improve your webside manner for better connections with your patients and smoother telehealth visits.
Long-term telehealth solution designed for providers and patients
Need a secure, HIPAA-compliant solution for virtual care? With Greenway Telehealth™ — coming fall 2020 — your patients can have easy one-click entry to live video and audio visits. And you’ll benefit from a team of trusted advisers to help you along the way.
Learn more about partnering with Greenway for telehealth services here.
For more information, CLICK HERE to schedule a conversation with a Greenway representative. Or watch our 3-minute overview video HERE.