From Bedside to Webside: Professionalism Best Practices in Telemedicine

Professionalism best practices in telemedicine


What does professionalism look like in a telemedicine setting?

Professionalism is the conduct, behavior, or attitude of someone in a work or business environment. It may seem like professionalism and appearance go hand-in-hand, but there are a few distinct differences. Namely, appearance is how you look, whereas professionalism is how you conduct yourself. Virtual conferences might give the impression of a more relaxed environment, but it’s important to remember that you’re consulting with real patients, who have real issues and need your support, guidance, and professional recommendations.

The purpose of practicing proper webside manner is to encourage the patient to trust you as a healthcare provider, and acting professional is a key factor in building that trust.

Below are a few tips to remain professional in a telemedicine setting, as well as insight from VirtualMed Staff providers and best practices they utilize in their own practice.

Don’t leave the patient waiting

Treating a patient with respect cultivates a healthy relationship, and a big part of that is being considerate of a patient's time. Whether it’s a scheduled appointment or a physician supporting an emergency department with an allocated window to respond to calls, professionalism means being on time and not leaving the patient waiting.

Silence your phone

It’s distracting when someone’s phone rings in a movie theatre, but imagine how a patient feels when a doctor’s phone is constantly ringing offscreen. Silence your phone so patients aren’t suddenly distracted by an incoming text or call. 

Don’t eat or drink

Would you bring a Big Mac into the exam room? Hopefully not, but even if you’re chewing off screen, eating and drinking during a telemedicine appointment is unprofessional and in poor taste.

Remember your colleagues

In most virtual conferences, patients are accompanied by a healthcare professional who provides support in areas that you, in a virtual setting, cannot perform. Whether that individual is a doctor, nurse, or medical assistant, it’s important to extend professional courtesy and start off on a positive footing with your new colleague. Start the consultation by asking if someone else is in the room and call them by his or her name, if possible.

Whenever I start a consultation, I always ask if there’s a nurse in the room, for two reasons. First, I don’t want to incorrectly assume the healthcare worker is a nurse when, in fact, they’re a doctor and start off on the wrong foot with a new colleague. And secondly, most of the time they respond with his or her name. Many health professionals take it as a sign of friendliness or respect when you call them by their first name, rather than something impersonal like ‘nurse’.” - VirtualMed Staff Provider

Privacy and security

Telemedicine is still practicing medicine, which means HIPAA-compliance is always required. To protect patient information, keep sensitive documents in a secure location and make sure you’re alone in the room so no one can overhear the consultation.

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 wearhow to setup your virtual office, understanding your technology, to critical communication skills in telemedicine