How is your ‘webside’ manner?
Many caregivers are accustomed to our own versions of exceptional bedside manner. A handshake, a friendly introduction upon entry, asking about a hobby – all are great ways to build rapport with a patient.
These skills come naturally to some of us. For others, it can take years of direct patient contact to perfect.
Because of the response to COVID-19 and stay-at-home orders, telehealth is an integral part of everyday practice for clinicians. The transition from bedside to “webside” manner may not be as seamless as anticipated. Making a good first impression with webside manner sets the tone for future visits with new and repeat patients.
Preparing for virtual encounter
Following best practices during the encounter can help foster trusting and lasting patient-clinician rapport. There are several preparation steps to take prior to a patient virtual encounter to help ensure a proper introduction.
- Select attire that won’t distract. Gentle, neutral colors preferred.
- Review patient history. It’s important to do this in a private, secure area that maintains Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
- Choose a location with good lighting without distractions.
- Check that all equipment that will be used is working well.
During virtual encounter
After logging into the call on time, make sure both parties have a solid connection. Ask if the patient can see and hear you. Refamiliarize yourself to the patient or introduce yourself and any colleagues along with your current location. An example: “Good morning. I am Dr. Pasquariello and I am joined by a pharmacy student, Jake, who will be observing today. We are currently at your West Lake clinic.”
Explain that you may be taking notes during the call and may consult with your colleague during the visit. It’s important to periodically ask the patient if they have questions, especially after explaining something. Lastly, review any education, prescription information, or follow-up appointment guidance covered during the discussion prior to logging off the call.
Many of us are accustomed to looking at the main image on our screen when looking up treatments or charting in the electronic health record (EHR). In telehealth, please try to look directly at the camera to maintain direct eye contact. Try your best to speak clearly, maintain upright posture and make time for listening. Be sure to smile!
Like many patients, I had my first telehealth visit recently. I actually found that my clinician spent more time with me than when we meet in person.
As telemedicine grows, video training will continue to become further integrated within medical education curriculums. Allscripts offers telehealth and has additional resources available to help you strengthen the bonds with your patients.