During the COVID-19 pandemic, many providers have turned to telemedicine to safely care for their patients. If you're new to virtual care, or if you'd like to enhance your experience, here are three tips for a great telehealth experience.
Make sure you can be heard clearly
Good sound quality is extremely important for your appointments, so try to set-up in an environment conducive to good audio. Tiled or concrete rooms create an echo, making it harder for your patient 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. Oftentimes, 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 smart phone 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 in the midst of COVID-19 concerns, offering advice and considerations to help you continue to run your practice and keep yourself and your patients safe. To download and read it, click here.