For many practices, a successful transition from in-person to online care is about much more than finding the right virtual care platform. It’s also critical to consider updated regulations regarding telehealth, patient access to and literacy of technology, and building webside manner skills.
“Webside manner” is the technology-conscious approach to meeting with patients online. It’s a new skillset for many healthcare professionals across specialties and organizations – to share their medical knowledge via a computer or phone screen in a way that is simultaneously tech-savvy and mindful of the patient’s experience, while still delivering quality care.
For providers who are looking to get more comfortable practicing in a digital space, we’ve identified the top five tips to master webside manners.
1. Set the scene
It’s best to take all virtual appointments from the same place every day and to make sure the dedicated area is ready for an online meeting.
Take a look at the wall or backdrop behind you. Is there too much art hung up or items on a shelf that could be distracting to your patients? Are there bright colors, big windows or moving objects? Any of these things can take away from your virtual meeting simply by being in the background.
The ideal setting for a telehealth appointment is one where there are no more than a few items visible to the camera other than yourself. This ensures you are the focus, not the art, plants or books behind you.
2. Know your angles
Once you’ve identified the best place in your home or practice to conduct telehealth visits, it’s good to know where to place yourself in relation to the camera.
Too close can be a little awkward or intimidating. You don’t want your face to take up your patients’ entire screen in their view. Too far and you become less of their focus and risk sound quality if the microphone can’t easily pick up your voice.
The best place to be in relation to the camera is centered, about a foot away. Also make sure that you are not backlit; it’s better to have lighting in front of you so that your face and expressions are clear. Avoid backlighting or dim lighting.
3. Take your time
In addition to pre-visit preparations, remember to take your time during each session. Patients are navigating this new setup, too. Those seeking mental health may have heightened levels of anxiety or stress. Elderly patients may need a little coaching on how to work the virtual meeting tool you’re using. Children may have trouble focusing and those who are caregivers for others may have many questions throughout the session.
Everyone is navigating this new setting together. While most patients and their families will be comfortable using the technology, many people may wonder if they’ll receive the same level of care they’ve come to expect. Give each patient your full attention throughout the session, be mindful of their unique needs and make the conversation more than just a medical assessment.
4. Practice and train
If you have a comfortable background, good angles and enough time for each patient, you may just need a bit of practice. Getting better at running a telehealth visit is like any other skill – it improves with repetition.
Once you’re satisfied with your telehealth skillset, share it with others. Take time to walk your scheduler, admin and/or biller through the platform you’re using. Show them the whole process. While some aspects of the visit may be more pertinent to their responsibilities, having a general understanding of your overall telehealth processes will be helpful for everyone in your practice as virtual visits become more widely used.
5. Continue to improve
We understand it can be challenging to be both the care provider and the producer or tech support for telehealth. Even with an easy-to-use virtual care platform, there will be learning opportunities that continue to arise as you, your patients and your staff get more comfortable with telehealth.
As such, your webside skills will evolve. The more you use telehealth and establish simple processes from scheduling to capturing payment for virtual visits, the more confident you’ll be in not just the medical assessment you provide, but in the way which you’re caring for patients.
For support in establishing a successful, stress-free telehealth experience, connect with our team to make your virtual visits the best they can be.