Even when you have virtual physicians, like we do here at VirtualMed Staff, attire and eye contact matter tremendously. After all, patients expect proper attire and eye contact, and when either of those things are ignored or not addressed trouble can happen fast.
The little things matter.
Here's a story from many years ago, one that I overheard involving a recruiter dealing with an issue with a locums provider. The story is weird, but funny, and listening to this odd event unfold shaped my own thoughts on what VirtualMed would and should do to ensure our physicians carry themselves properly.
Effectively, we set out to have a required webside manner, the topic of this month’s mailing.
A few years ago, I happened to overhear a healthcare recruiter speaking on the phone with a psychiatrist whose bedside manner was a big issue. I couldn’t help hearing this, and I’ll admit that I listened to what unfolded with a lot of interest. It was impossible not to want to know more.
The recruiter asked the physician this, “So, what made you decide to wear your wet suit to the hospital yesterday?” Then he looked back at me and rolled his eyes.
It was hard not to laugh out loud.
I couldn’t hear the answer on the other end of the phone, but the physician obviously said something to the effect of, “Why, was there a problem? I was going snorkeling after my shift.”
The recruiter became very frustrated and said, “That wasn’t the best decision you ever made.” Then, the recruiter had to explain that the client wanted the physician terminated immediately. The wet suit left everyone at the hospital completely shocked.
Ironically, the physician couldn’t believe they were being terminated. There was a bit of back and forth, but soon enough, they accepted the news and the call ended.
“Holy smokes,” the recruiter said.
Moral of the story: Whether it's bedside manner or webside manner, a wet suit is not the ideal outfit for a psychiatric consult.
I encourage you to read the articles in this month's newsletter, where we touch on the importance of virtual physicians practicing meaningful webside manner. It may seem self-evident, but as the story above demonstrates, it never hurts to reiterate the importance of dressing appropriately, maintaining eye contact, and practicing strong listening skills when treating patients. Especially in a telemedicine setting, where oftentimes it very well could be a completely new experience for both the patient and provider.
Nurturing proper webside manner takes effort, but it makes an impact. As you'll see in this mailing, there are a lot more factors that go into transitioning bedside manner into webside manner, but hopefully these articles and white paper will serve as a helpful guide.