During the COVID-19 pandemic, many providers have turned to telemedicine to care for their patients safely. In a survey about COVID-19 impact collected through our Provider Roundtable, respondents shared that telehealth can be especially challenging both to learn as well as getting patients used to the change. So, if you're new to virtual care, or if you'd like to enhance your experience, here are three tips for an excellent telehealth experience.
Make sure your patients hear you clearly
Clear sound quality is crucial for your appointments, so have your set-up in an environment conducive to good audio. Tiled or concrete rooms create an echo, making it harder for your patients to hear you. Ideally, you should set up your workstation in a room with a carpeted floor and low ceiling, both of which reduce echo. If there are no rooms like that available, move pillows, blankets, and soft furniture into the room. These objects will absorb sound waves, creating less echo. Try to move wooden, plastic, or metal objects away from you because hard surfaces can worsen echo, not alleviate it.
Use the correct lighting
Even if the light in the room is good in person, it may not be optimal for a webcam. Bright lighting from behind you can cause a shadow and make it hard for your patients to see you. Close the blinds or curtains on any windows behind you. The best lighting to use for webcam video is soft lighting that comes from in front of you. Set a light source a few feet in front of you, ideally more than one at different angles. This can be as simple as a desk lamp or two on either side of your monitor or moving your set-up in front of a window. If you're by a window, keep in mind that natural light changes throughout the day, so check how you look between appointments.
Switch to a mobile device
If a patient's webcam is old or malfunctioning—or if their computer has no camera and microphone—ask them to switch to an app on their mobile phone. Often, a person's smartphone is the most up-to-date piece of technology they own, and the quality of smartphone cameras these days is outstanding. With AllWays on Teams, the free virtual visit platform from AllWays and Microsoft, both the patient and the provider get the best experience when using the app on a smartphone or tablet. Try accessing an appointment through a mobile device instead of on your desktop computer.
The Board of Registration in Medicine has issued a "Medical Office Practices" publication for Massachusetts. This document advises clinicians of best practices amid COVID-19 concerns, offering advice and considerations to help you continue to run your practice and keep yourself and your patients safe. You can download a copy here.