Open communication is an integral part of the healthcare healing process. Effective communication between the doctor-patient relationship has research-backed benefits. It proves patients are more likely to respond to the treatments, and they are less likely to malpractice suits as effective communication helps them to express their gratitude and satisfaction with the doctor’s treatment.
When we are fast moving into a digitalized world, there are also so many innovative advancements in the field of healthcare industry too. Whether it is a video call or chat service, communication plays an essential part in your telehealth tools.
- Understand the emergency: You are literally meeting a virtual patient, and it’s important to build a relationship first to make them comfortable around this new method. A good patient-doctor relationship means you can expect them to revisit your services, and chances are they will recommend your virtual services to their loved ones also. All the while, it’s important to understand their emergency situation too. They may not always be here for the ice-breaking part; some may need emergency treatments or solutions. So, always pay attention to their situations.
- Have patience: During digital visits, it is especially important to clarify what patients have to say. Many of your patients may be older, and they may need special attention. Due to their age, illness, or cognitive challenges, they may speak or move slower than you do. Give them enough time to talk or move at their pace. And positive patient communications need not be rushed. Have patience and listen to them with a full heart. Remember to appreciate them for their best efforts in using these innovative tools to connect with you. They may be new to this service when needed, explain to them how to use specific terms and services.
- Connected Devices/Equipment: Tablets, smartphones, or connected devices to receive connected care services at home (e.g., broadband-enabled blood pressure monitors; pulse oximetry monitors) for patient or health care provider use; or telemedicine kiosks/carts for health care provider sites.
- Give them enough time to respond: Give your patients enough time to ask questions or respond to your questions. This will help them feel more like a valued person, and the communication will be more likely free and open. As a doctor, you may need to ask a few clarifying questions, ask them to repeat themselves or restate what you heard. Keep your sentences and questions short and understandable, focus on one issue at a time, and give a detailed explanation of complex definitions in clear terms.
- Be attentive: Give every patient your full attention to let them know you are listening. You must avoid multitasking while interacting with your e-patients. Try not to read a pop-up text or check your email during this e-visit. Your attention is more significant to the patient than you think. Being attentive and clearing your doubts on the way will help you to identify, diagnose, and prescribe medicine much faster. And you may never know their internet quality; sometimes, you may face interruptions or delays in your session. So, be prepared to give them enough time to respond, carefully listen to what they’re saying, and make sure they get a clear idea of what you are saying.
- Avoid Interrupting: As this is a virtual meeting, you may need to give them enough time to respond to your queries. A study found that doctors interrupt patients in the first 20 seconds of the consultation. Once interrupted, this may prevent the patient from revealing all of his health concerns and issues. It’s always better to listen to their concerns as they are open up to you.
- Demonstrate empathy: Use empathy in places to handle your patient’s emotions. In desperate times they may get very emotional, and you can say phrases like, “I’m sorry that you’re facing this problem,” or “that sounds difficult, but I’m happy that you made it.” Clinical empathy can be taught in your doctorate or nursing degree, or with some practice, you can learn it on your own. Some studies prove that adding clinical empathy to your online sessions will lead to better patient satisfaction.
- Avoid medical jargon: You may have years of experience in handling medical terms and technologies, but the patients you see every day may not have enough knowledge in these fields. Do not assume your patients know all the medical terms, and they’re aware of their medical condition. Introduce necessary information on their health status and build a conversation on the information. You can even ask them to repeat back the care plan or diagnosis to make sure they understand everything.
- Try not to rush things: You may have other appointments waiting for you, or you may have other things to take care of. This is not a reason for you to rush quality patient time. Some patient sessions may take little to no time, and some sessions may need a bit more time than you expected. You can schedule each appointment with this on the mind. Feeling rushed leads patients to believe that you’re not paying attention to them, and they may even doubt your diagnosis.
Digital health is fast moving forward and in the time COVID 19, it’s an essential part of healthcare structure. Even medical consultations, nursing conferences, webinars, and surgeries are going digital. There are already health monitors and tools to track one’s own sleep, heart rate, BP, and other essential health-related data to follow a healthy lifestyle. And with the help of proper telehealth technologies, one can save time and money on their health services.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tracy Pattoonn is a busy mom and a freelance writer who loves to write blogs related to health, education, and well-being. When she is not busy, you can find her watching her favorite movies on Netflix.
This piece was submitted as a guest post to Validic. Validic neither endorses nor makes any claims as to the accuracy of the statements made in this post. The author’s contact information is provided for follow up.
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