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Telehealth was an option before the COVID-19 pandemic, but it has now become a necessity. In fact, the health care profession has changed significantly since the crisis began, and recent surveys show that two out of three individuals have used telehealth at least once.

Though the transition was a little rough at first, patients and health care providers are starting to get used to telehealth visits. However, we are still in a period of adjustment and learning how to make patients feel confident about virtual appointments. To make this happen, here are six things you can do to help patients feel comfortable during a telehealth visit.

1. Check-In Ahead Of Time

Check-ins are more important in today’s telehealth world. They ensure the clinician has the right information on the patient. Plus, they help keep a record for administrators to track.

However, patients can no longer fill out paperwork at the time of the appointment. Some don’t have the necessary software to download material, fill it out, and send it back. Besides, doing this can increase a patient’s tensions.

To correct this, make sure check-ins are done ahead of time and through an online portal. Plus, keep the registration short. Ask for the most pertinent information so they can finish quickly and be prepared for the appointment. If they’re unsure of what to do, have people available to answer the patient’s questions.

2. Make Sure You Have a High-Quality Online Connection

The most problematic issue patients encounter is the online connection between them and their physicians. Sometimes, issues with lag time and poor video/sound are on the doctor’s end. Other times, it’s related to difficulties with the patient’s internet access.

While communication over an online portal can correct this somewhat, a better solution is telehealth software. Similar to programs like Zoom, these applications allow for a direct connection between the parties.

3. Use a Medical ERP

Telehealth patients don’t want to jump across multiple sites to handle check-in, billing, and appointments. It’s frustrating enough when they had to do it prior to COVID. Now, that added stress makes the situation more painful.

To avoid this, you need to implement a medical Enterprise Resource Platform. Organizations like Kareo offer these types of packages. Customizable, they track both user and doctor history from the initial registration to the last appointment.

4. Make the Most of Your Mask-less Conversation Time

It can be hard to connect with a masked nurse in the office, so make the most of the mask-less conversation permitted by telehealth. Patients want to have a face-to-face connection when they speak to their health care provider. They don’t want to be blocked by a piece of cloth.

As we communicate differently when wearing a mask, it can be difficult to alternate between telehealth and in-office appointments. It tends to be easier to schedule telehealth appointments for one part of the day and in-person meetups later. This also makes it possible for many HCPs to work from home during the mask-less part of their work-day.

5. Keep Your Eyes and Attention on the Patient

It can be easy to get distracted on a telehealth call. Looking at another portion of your computer or swiping through your smartphone away from the camera can convey a sense of disinterest the patient should not have to see or hear.

Be mindful throughout your telehealth visits. Clear your virtual and physical desktop of any distractions. Put your phone on vibrate and move it to a place where it isn’t easily accessible. Make eye contact with your patient. Talk low and speak slowly to help ease them into the proper comfort level.

6. Use Your Skills to Communicate, Inform, and Reassure

Patients are scared. They fear getting COVID and the complications of the virus. They worry about their jobs, kids, and others who have gotten sick. They don’t want their HCP to be cold and distant.

More than ever, you need to use your communication skills to comfort your patients, relate to their feelings, and try to assure them things will be okay. Don’t offer reassurance as an afterthought, and use plenty of eye contact and genuine feeling.

The world of telehealth is still changing. More will be done in the future as technology improves. Until then, you need to utilize both your professional and human skills to keep your patients comfortable. It’s the best way for them to get past their fears.

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