Even though America is starting to reopen from the COVID-19 pandemic, many patients prefer to go to a doctor’s appointment from the comfort of their home rather than in office. With the new norm of everything online, it can be hard to switch gears from providing in person care to online care through a webcam.
If you don’t know where to begin with providing a telehealth video conference, here are some tips to guide you through the process. We will be covering how to prepare before the appointment, what to look out for during the appointment, and what to keep in mind for after the appointment.
Before the Appointment
Use a HIPAA Compliant Software
The number one tip to keep in mind when providing healthcare services online is to use a HIPAA compliant video chatting software. This means not using your personal Google Meets, Skype, or FaceTime account. Instead, find a software which provides a HIPAA compliant video and messaging system.
For example, RedApple Digital Health is a desktop app which provides HIPAA compliant video and messaging chats as well as client management services such as appointment scheduling and analytics.
Test Your Video Conferencing Equipment: Camera, Microphone, and Sound
Make sure that your device’s camera, microphone, and sound are working with test checkers from your device settings. We recommend using a computer or something that can stand on its own without any fumble.
If your device does not provide a camera or microphone, you can buy an external one. Here are some of the highest rated extensions:
Additionally when checking your camera, check the lighting to ensure that your face is visible, ideally with the light source above or in front of your face. If you are in a loud environment, you can use headphones or earbuds.
Organize Your Desk
Have everything you need such as patient documents and consent forms (ex. consent form for telemental health service) organized on your desk for quick and easy access. If you need to access documents on your computer, have those up before the appointment since it may be hard to pull them up while the video chat is running simultaneously. Having everything up and ready to go beforehand eliminates the need to search for items during the call.
During the Appointment
Make Sure to Speak Loud and Clear
Having a conversation through video chat is much different than in person. To start off, all sound is registered through the computer before the patient hears it. If you speak quietly, they may not be able to hear you through the computer. Speak loudly and enunciate clearly to help the conversation run smoother.
If you don’t want the patient to hear something, such as a cough or confidential information, you can mute yourself by finding a little mic symbol and clicking on it. It should show up with a line across it which means you are now muted. Afterwards, be sure to click it again so that the patient can hear you.
Check Your Camera Reflection
Check the small reflection video of yourself in order to see if you are properly within the camera frame. This is often positioned in one of the video chat corners. Because the camera will not capture your whole body, patients may not see your hand gestures, especially if it’s too low.
If you need to convey a point through body language, make sure that your gesture is seen within the camera frame. Another option would be to verbally explain your point instead.
Know Your Backup Plan
Having a backup plan will show patients that you are reliable. In the case that the audio stops working, you can use the chat function. A common symbol to find the chat is a small text message bubble.
Additionally, always have a backup device nearby, such as a work phone, tablet or other computer in case of technical difficulties. Make sure the alternative device’s camera, mic, and sound functions work.
If the video chatting platform is down completely, suggest to reschedule the patient’s appointment for a different date and time. Be sure to have the platform’s tech support contact information written down for fast contact, such as their phone number and email address.
After the Appointment
Now that you’ve finished talking with the patient, be sure to end the video call before walking away or working on something else. You can also see if your camera is turned off by looking for a common green indicator light at the top of your computer next to the camera. If it’s on, then your camera is still on. If it isn’t on, then your camera is off.
Finally, stay organized and put away the patient’s files before starting your next video call.
Preparation is key for providing top healthcare online. Detailed research on the type of HIPAA compliant platform, such as RedApple Digital Health, that works best for your company can save a lot of time and frustrations later on in the future. It is also important to make sure that all of your device functions work well. Additionally, lighting plays a huge part in allowing the patient to see you properly. Organize your desk beforehand and pull up all needed documents on the computer.
Providing appointments online is much different than in person, especially when conversing. Your voice volume must be loud and clear since sound travels through the devices first before reaching the patient. During the appointment, check every so often to make sure you and your gestures are within frame. In case of technical difficulties, always have a backup plan such as an alternative device.
After the appointment, make sure to close the video chat before leaving or starting a different task. Stay organized with the patient’s files before starting a new video appointment.
Initially, transitioning to telehealth may not be easy but once you get the hang of it, telehealth can save lots of time. Check out our article on benefits of telehealth to see how telehealth can improve your business.
Which of these tips did you find most helpful?