From Bedside to Webside: Knowing Your Tech in Telemedicine

understanding your tech in telemedicine


It seems unnecessary to include technology as a factor of good webside manner, but consider the following scenario: The patient is in the emergency room, hooked up to countless wires and monitoring devices, and they’re understandably nervous. Suddenly, there’s loud beeping and emergency signals flashing from one of the machines. A doctor arrives and the patient turns to them for comfort and urgently asks what’s wrong, but instead of finding comfort, the doctor simply shrug their shoulders and says, “Beats me. I have no idea how this works.”

It’s an extreme scenario, but not understanding the technology you’re using can make patients uneasy and less likely to trust you with their health and well-being. Telemedicine is still relatively new, and for many patients it might be their first time. 

Below are tips on how to ensure technology issues don’t hinder a telemedicine consultation, as well as insight from VirtualMed Staff providers and best practices they utilize in their own practice.

Understand how it works

With any new technology, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with it before you can use it comfortably. Find the mute button, locate how to screen share, or quickly turn off the camera. All this preparation will make you come across professional and prepared if there’s an unexpected glitch.

Do a few test runs

Similar to understanding how the technology works, you’ll want to do a few test runs to make sure everything looks and sounds the way you want it. Are the audio levels correct? Is the camera working? Are items you might need accessible like pens, paper, and the patient’s chart? Practice runs help to prepare you for the real deal and better understand how to quickly address challenges when they arrive. 

I start consultations by asking a simple yes or no question, ‘Hello, can you hear me?’ If there are any audio issues or the patient can’t hear me above the noise of the emergency department, I keep a laminated two-sided piece of paper next to me. One side reads, ‘You can’t reliably hear me. We need to use a cellphone.’ Once they ask what number to dial, I flip the paper around and it lists my cell phone number and a message requesting anyone in the room to please call me.” – VirtualMed Staff Provider

Have a reliable internet connection

A spotty internet connection can cause the video to lag, audio to drop in and out, and worse, entire consultations to unexpectedly end. Ensuring you have a reliable internet connection will help keep the appointment running smoothly. Additionally, if patients are taking telemedicine calls from a designated location in the hospital or clinic, make sure the internet is reliable there, as well.

“Sometimes issues with the technology or internet arise. When that happens, I found it’s best to admit that it might not be the perfect scenario, but that we’re trying to expedite their care and that you’ll attempt to make the interaction as useful as possible.” – VirtualMed Staff Provider

The technology that powers telemedicine is only as good as the individual operating it. To instill confidence in patients and display proper webside manners, make sure the technology is set up correctly and functioning properly before an appointment starts.

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.

Want more bedside manner tips and best practices? We've got you covered.

Check out our bedside manner series that covers everything from what to wearprofessionalism, how to setup your virtual office, to critical communications skills in telemedicine