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Telehealth Best Practices: How to Deliver Better Patient Care through Telehealth

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This article was originally published in April 2020 and was updated in February 2024

Imagine a world where distance and time no longer dictate access to quality healthcare. This is the realm of telehealth – a digital revolution in medicine. As a physician, adapting to this transformation is not just about staying relevant, it’s ensuring that your practice thrives in the ever-evolving healthcare landscape.

In this new era, your ability to connect with patients remotely is not just a convenience but a vital part of delivering phenomenal care. Embracing telehealth best practices means breaking down traditional barriers to care, offering timely and personalized medical attention, and significantly improving patient outcomes.

Essential Tips for Telehealth Appointment Prep

Preparing for telehealth appointments goes beyond a technical setup; it involves creating an environment conducive to effective and compassionate healthcare delivery. It's about fostering a space where technology enhances, rather than impedes, the patient-physician connection. Here's how you can optimize your telehealth setup:

Create a telehealth workspace

Transform a section of your office into a dedicated telehealth zone. This space should be quiet, private, and professionally set up.

This will signal to your patients that they are entering a secure and focused healthcare environment, even virtually. Ensure good lighting and a neutral background, free from distractions. It’s not only about patient comfort but also about maintaining a professional image that conveys trust and confidence.

Master the digital tools 

Embrace the digital aspect of your practice. Equip yourself with a high-quality webcam and microphone to ensure clear visual and audio communication. Being adept with the telehealth platform is crucial – from setting up the digital workspace to troubleshooting common technical issues. Your digital fluency will reassure patients and make them more comfortable with the virtual healthcare process.

Ensure quick access to patient information

Integrate your EHR system seamlessly with your telehealth platform. This integration allows for a more holistic view of the patient's medical history, enabling you to make informed decisions and provide personalized care. Additionally, familiarize yourself with tools that allow you to share relevant information with patients during the session, enhancing their understanding and engagement in their care.

Guide your patients

Patient education is key. Provide clear instructions on how to use the telehealth platform. This might include guidance on setting up their own space for the appointment, testing their equipment, or preparing any necessary medical information beforehand. This proactive approach can alleviate any apprehension they might have about telehealth and sets the stage for a successful appointment.

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Ensure privacy and compliance

Ensure that your telehealth setup complies with privacy laws and regulations. This includes using secure connections, having appropriate data protection measures in place, and ensuring that patient information is handled with the utmost confidentiality.

5 Best Practices for Telehealth Appointments

Telehealth has redefined patient care, blending technology with the human touch of medicine. To excel in this virtual care landscape, it's essential to adapt your approach to meet the unique challenges and opportunities it presents. Here are five best practices to improve the quality of your telehealth appointments:

1. Cultivate a good bedside manner in a virtual setting 

Just like in-person visits, your demeanor during telehealth appointments matters. Show empathy, maintain eye contact through the camera, and be attentive. Your virtual bedside manner can significantly impact patient comfort and trust.

2. Encourage open and honest communication

Clear communication is vital in telehealth, where physical cues are limited. Create a safe space for patients to share and encourage them to express their concerns and symptoms openly. Make your patients feel valued through active listening skills, and ask open-ended questions to help you gather comprehensive information.

3. Have a stable and fast internet connection

A smooth telehealth session hinges on reliable technology. Ensure your internet connection is not just stable, but also fast enough to handle video consultations without lag or interruption. This technical reliability upholds a professional standard and creates a seamless experience for both you and your patients.

4. Create a professional and interruption-free environment

Your workspace should reflect a calm, professional atmosphere. Choose a quiet area where you won’t be interrupted. This not only helps in maintaining patient confidentiality but also assures them that they are receiving your full attention. Managing a distraction-free environment is crucial for building trust and ensuring effective communication.

5. Tailor care to individual patient needs in a remote setting

Personalizing care in a telehealth setting is vital. Recognize that each patient's comfort and familiarity with technology can vary.

Be patient and provide clear instructions for using telehealth tools. Adapt your consultation style to fit each patient's unique needs, whether it's spending extra time explaining a condition or offering reassurance. This personalized approach ensures that despite the physical distance, your care remains as compassionate and patient-focused as ever.

Incorporating these practices into your telehealth sessions not only enhances patient satisfaction but also ensures that the quality of care remains high. By bridging the gap between technology and personalized care, you can create a fulfilling and effective telehealth experience for your patients.

Delivering better patient care through telehealth with Elation 

Elation’s telehealth platform is designed to seamlessly integrate into your practice. With our HIPAA-compliant solutions, you can easily transition between virtual and in-person care. Our platform simplifies scheduling and patient check-ins while enriching virtual consultations with high-quality audio and visuals.

Automated documentation and a focus on privacy and efficiency ensure that your attention stays on what matters most - patient care. Whether for individual appointments or group visits, Elation enables you to provide efficient care effortlessly.

For more insights and detailed guidance on implementing telehealth in your practice, download our eBook on "Telehealth for Independent Practices". It's filled with valuable information and tips to help you maximize the benefits of telehealth. If you’re looking for the right telehealth platform for your practice, get more info on Elation Telehealth and watch a demo.

Learn more about Elation’s telehealth platform

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What are the key telehealth best practices for appointments?

Telehealth best practices include cultivating good bedside manner in a virtual setting, encouraging open and honest communication, ensuring a stable and fast internet connection, creating a professional and interruption-free environment, and tailoring care to individual patient needs. These practices are essential for maintaining high-quality care and patient satisfaction in a telehealth practice.

How can I create the ideal telehealth workspace?  

An ideal telehealth workspace should be quiet, private, and professional. It should have good lighting and a neutral background, equipped with high-quality audio-visual equipment. A well-set-up workspace ensures patient comfort and confidentiality, fostering trust in the virtual healthcare environment.

What role does patient education play in telehealth?

Educating patients on telehealth best practices and how to use the platform is critical for a smooth telehealth experience. Providing clear instructions and guidance helps alleviate apprehension and enhances the effectiveness of telehealth appointments.

How does Elation support telehealth best practices?

Elation offers a HIPAA-compliant telehealth platform that simplifies transitioning between virtual and in-person care, enriches virtual consultations with high-quality audio and visuals, and streamlines documentation. These comprehensive solutions support the best practices in telehealth, enabling efficient, compliant, and patient-centered care.

Can Elation’s platform handle group telehealth visits?

Yes, Elation's platform supports group telehealth visits, allowing multiple participants to join, which is useful for involving families or caregivers in patient care, ensuring comprehensive communication and support.

What are the benefits of integrating EHR with a telehealth platform?   

Integrating EHR with a telehealth platform provides a holistic view of the patient's medical history, allowing for informed decision-making and personalized care. This seamless integration enhances the telehealth experience by ensuring easy access to necessary patient information during virtual consultations.