Tips to Make the Most Out of Virtual Visits.

While the virtual visit can be just as effective as the in-clinic appointment, it can be a little daunting at first. The key is for both parties to be well prepared in advance to ensure you have quality time to focus on the patient in front of you.

Here are some tips to help everyone make the most of the virtual visit.

Gather the right tools for the job

  • You will need:
    • a webcam enabled computer, smartphone or tablet with good quality speakers, a microphone and a supported web browser
    • a good quality headset – optional, but useful for eliminating ambient noise or a hollow-sounding effect; and protects the patient’s confidentiality and privacy
    • a strong internet connection
    • a telehealth tool like EMR Virtual Visit that provides an encrypted connection to your patient, while enabling you to access patient files and record notes simultaneously – from your EMR
  • If you’re using a mobile device, consider using a stand to keep the device steady
  • Consider using a patient portal to securely communicate with your patients before and after virtual visits.

Before the appointment

  • Test your equipment once a day before beginning your virtual appointments. Make sure your volume is on, the audio is clear, and your microphone, camera and speakers are in good working order.
  • If you’re using a mobile device, make sure the battery is fully charged or the device is plugged in to prevent a sudden loss of power.
  • Minimize distractions as much as possible. Close unnecessary programs, apps and alerts. Block incoming calls on your mobile device. Post a sign on the door indicating that a virtual visit is in session.
  • Choose a quiet space where you can be alone to protect your patient’s privacy. Make sure the background is neutral, clean and organized.
  • Check the lighting behind you. If it is too bright, you may appear in a shadow. You may need to lower the window blinds to soften the light in the room.
  • Position yourself so your patient can see you from your shoulders to above the top of your head.
  • Make sure that your camera is at eye level to help maintain eye contact. You may have to adjust the height of your chair.
  • Read the patient’s file and reasons for the visit to make the best use of the time you have with your patient.
  • You can ask an administrator or assistant to login for you to save you time and ensure everything is properly set up and your patient is ready when you are.

During the virtual visit

  • Stay engaged and maintain eye contact. If you need to take notes or check on something, explain to your patient what you’re doing.
  • If you do need to speak to someone other than the patient, mute your microphone.
  • If your patient has audio problems or difficulty hearing and has trouble understanding what you’re discussing, use the Live Chat feature to help clarify things. You can also send links for further information.

Preparing your patients for a successful virtual visit

For many patients, particularly the elderly, the virtual visit can be intimidating. You can help put them at ease by sharing virtual visit tips via appointment reminders, newsletters, your patient portal, front desk handouts or waiting room monitors. Be sure to include these pointers:

  • You will need:
    • a webcam enabled computer, smartphone or tablet with good quality speakers, a microphone and a supported web browser
    • an internet (wi-fi) or a phone data plan
    • a strong internet connection
    • an email account
    • a quiet indoor space with little distraction and good lighting
  • Complete and submit any paperwork as instructed by your doctor’s office – preferably a day in advance. Your information is updated on your electronic health record, ensuring that your doctor has current and accurate information prior to your visit.
  • Take a moment to jot down any questions you have or symptoms you want to discuss with your doctor.
  • Have a list of your medications ready or better yet, the actual medications.
  • Have a pen and paper handy in case you want take notes from your visit.
  • If you are not seeing your regular doctor, keep in mind that you may need to discuss your pre-existing history. It’s a good idea to write down a few notes in advance to make the best use of your time with the doctor during your virtual visit.
  • Consider having someone join you in-person whether its remotely or in person or virtually. Depending on the type of visit, it may be helpful to have a family member, trusted friend or caregiver sit in to take notes or raise concerns if you forget something. If the individual can’t be in the same location as you, share the link and they can log in from any computer or mobile device.
  • Fifteen minutes before your call, test your audio, camera and internet connection to make sure everything is in good working order. (TIP: The confirmation email from your provider should have a “Test Your Connection” link to help you do this.)
  • Five minutes before your call, click on the link in the email provided by your doctor’s office. You may see a window pop up in your browser that asks for permission to share your camera. Be sure to accept/allow or your doctor won’t be able to see you.
  • Don’t be concerned if you don’t see your doctor on your screen when you “arrive” for your appointment. Just as in the clinic, you may have to wait a few minutes while the doctor is with another patient. In some cases, you may even see an administrator or assistant before your doctor arrives.

As healthcare evolves, the virtual visit is likely here to stay. Clear communication and common sense tips can help you and your patients with this new generation of care delivery. Learn more about treating your patients remotely from your EMR with TELUS EMR Virtual Visit and other EMR-integrated tools.

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