Although a good “bedside manner” comes as second nature for most clinicians, conveying concern and competency over the “wire” of telemedicine can be challenging. Here are four simple tips to deliver outstanding care through a videoconferencing connection:

  • Visual Awareness: Use a self-view on your own monitor so that you can see what you look like to your patients.
    • Is your camera angle unflattering? Put the webcam at eye-level or slightly higher to avoid a view of your double chin.
    • What about the light source? A window behind you may cause you to look like a silhouette. Use a lamp in front of you so the patient can read your non-verbal cues.
  • Audio Clarity: Speak clearly and maintain an even volume when speaking. Always assume the microphone is on, and do not say anything that you don’t want everyone to hear.
    • Most microphones are very sensitive and can pick up the sounds of typing, papers shuffling, or jewelry clanking on a desk. Do your best to minimize all distracting noises.
  • Privacy Enforcement: Never assume that your videoconferencing equipment is off – always check the equipment, use a lens cover, and have your device set to auto-mute on answer, to avoid accidental HIPAA violation.
    • Consider the use of headphones instead of loud computer speakers so that protected health information is not overheard outside your office.
  • Interpersonal Courtesy: It may be tempting to multitask when you are sitting in front of a computer. Don’t.
    • Avoid distractions such as side conversations, cell phone calls, or checking emails while the patient is connected with you. Set your devices to “do not disturb” and treat the visit as you would an in-person consultation.
    • Make every effort to look at the webcam often (not the person on the screen) to give the impression that you are looking them in the eye.

For more Do’s and Don’ts to make your telemedicine program a success, consider our training program. Frontiers in Telemedicine focuses on competency-based learning and is designed for licensed healthcare professionals, including mental health professionals, nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, residents, and medical doctors who desire to learn about the procedures, technology, and business of telemedicine.

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Traci Butler Carroll
Traci Butler Carroll, M.Ed, BAS, CTC, LSSYB, is Program Manager for the Frontiers in Telemedicine training program at the F. Marie Hall Institute for Rural and Community Health in Lubbock, TX.