For most healthcare providers, delivering care to patients has traditionally taken place in the exam room. There wasn’t any need to worry about whether the lighting was right, if the backdrop was neat and orderly, or if the neighbor was mowing the lawn. The environment was already perfectly prepared and ready to go, you just needed to walk through the door.
But telemedicine changed that.
Telemedicine providers are now responsible for much more than just walking in and seeing a patient. In a virtual setting, simple elements like lighting, a clean and well-organized workspace, and minimizing background noise are all the responsibility of the provider. Now, with consultations shifting to a virtual setting, environment has suddenly found itself as a key factor in good webside manner. After all, if the goal of telemedicine is to provide the same quality of care as an in-person setting, then patients need to feel as if the setting matches their previous experiences with healthcare providers.
So, how do you prepare the ideal environment for a telemedicine consultation?
Below are tips on how to prepare the ideal environment for a telemedicine setting, as well as insight from VirtualMed Staff providers and standards they utilize in their own practice.
Remove the clutter
Scattered papers, discarded trash, or leftover dinner resting in view of the camera lens accomplishes one thing: turning the patient’s attention away from you. Take the time to organize your workspace and remove unnecessary clutter so that the environment is clean from distractions and presents a professional setting for you and the patient.
Check the background
Background images can be just as distracting as a cluttered desk. Even family photos hanging on the wall can distract a patient from focusing on their own health and well-being. Removing any distracting pictures or paintings to create a neutral background is the best way to create a setting and environment for a virtual consultation.
Additionally, it’s important to make sure there are no doors in the background. Doors can give the impression that someone could walk in and disrupt the encounter.
“Bookshelves are a great backdrop, but definitely avoid sitting in front of a mirror.” – VirtualMed Staff Provider
Patients don’t want to be looking at a shadow on the screen or stare straight into a lightbulb. Ensuring your workspace is well-lit so your facial expressions can be clearly seen will help you better connect with patients.
“Avoid backlighting. You don’t want the patient to leave the consultation thinking, ‘All I remember about my doctor is that he/she was shadowy and sinister looking.’” – VirtualMed Staff Provider
Keep it quiet
Whether it is background music, children running around the house, or the neighbor’s lawnmower, minimizing any background noise prevents the patient from not hearing you and missing important health information. Close the windows and the doors and find a location where there’s little background noise that might be distracting during the consultation.
Sorry, no pets allowed
We all love our four-legged friends, but there’s a time and place for them. To prevent a cat walking across the screen or a dog barking in the same room, it’s best to keep the door closed and the pets away.
“My cats have sometimes made guest appearances, in spite of my best efforts. I always reassure them that the cats are HIPAA trained and will not break confidentiality.” – VirtualMed Staff Provider
From Bedside to Webside: New Standards for Physicians in Telemedicine
Webside manner is just as important as bedside manner. As telemedicine adoption continues to grow, providers and healthcare systems will need to have standards and best practices in place to ensure the provider-patient relationship can still thrive in a virtual setting. If all of this seems like a lot to handle, it doesn’t have to be with the right telemedicine partner.
At VirtualMed Staff, our telemedicine solutions integrate with your existing people, processes, and technology. Our network of physicians are trained, ready to work, and have an impeccable webside manner. If you want to learn more about how telemedicine can improve your practice, book a demo with a virtual care specialist today.
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