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The Beryl Institute invites members to submit posts on patient experience related topics. For guidelines and information on submitting a post for consideration, contact michelle.garrison@theberylinstitute.org.

 

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Techniques for Bringing Compassionate Communication to Telehealth Interactions

Posted By Anthony Orsini, D.O., Wednesday, May 16, 2018
Updated: Wednesday, May 16, 2018

One of the hottest topics in medicine today is the continued growth of telemedicine.

According to a survey by Jackson Healthcare, Telehealth is expected to grow in the U.S. by 27.5%, reaching $9.35 billion by 2021. It is estimated that by the end of this year alone, the number of patients using telemedicine services will reach 7 million, with 44% of private practices making the development of telemedicine services, their number one priority. This approach is especially popular in rural areas where accessibility to physicians can be difficult.

As an increasing number of patients choose telemedicine as a more convenient option than emergency or urgent care visits, the challenges that physicians and other healthcare professionals face to build relationships with patients have become even greater.

The communication techniques healthcare professionals use to build trust are even more important during physician-patient video conference calling. The impersonal nature of communicating via screen amplifies the need to focus on communication techniques that build trust between the physician and patient. Without trust in their healthcare provider, patients are less likely to follow their treatment and have poorer outcomes.

Healthcare providers can use the following communication techniques to build trusting relationships with patients during telemedicine visits:

  1. Give the patient your undivided attention - It is easier to forget during videoconferencing that the patient is watching and interpreting your body language. Remember that 70% of all language is non-verbal. Take limited notes during the conversation. Writing or entering data in the EMR (electronic medical record) during conversations is perceived as multitasking and not interpreted by patients as being thorough. Be aware of your facial expressions. Since the patient cannot see your body positioning, he/she will be watching you even more closely than if you were in the same room. Your facial expressions can either be interpreted as compassionate, disinterested or rushed. The perception of eye contact can be felt even through video.

  2. Remember that each interaction with a patient is a conversation and not an interview. Don’t interrupt or ask follow up questions before the patient has finished speaking. Patients are even more sensitive to the feeling of being rushed during telemedicine. It is very important to let them feel that even though you may not be in the same room, they are the most important person to you at that moment.

  3. Be a genuine person. Although healthcare professionals will often be video conferencing with patients they have never met before, there is still an opportunity to form a trusting relationship in a short period of time. Today’s patient wants to interact with their healthcare professional on a personal level. Avoid the “all business” attitude. Relate on a personal level. Ask the patient where they are from and find a common interest if possible to help form that relationship.

By all accounts, telemedicine will play a large part in the future of healthcare. It has the potential for dramatic cost reduction, increases in healthcare accessibility and improved patient satisfaction. It should not be a replacement for the strong relationship between a patient and his/her healthcare provider as that is critical to any healthcare visit. By learning proper techniques in compassionate communication, healthcare providers can build relationships even through video conferencing.

Dr. Anthony Orsini, Founder and President, BBN, is a full-time neonatologist and expert in compassionate communication in medicine. He is currently the Vice-Chairman of Neonatology at Winnie Palmer Hospital in Orlando, FL. He also serves as the President of BBN, the organization he founded in 2012 that offers training services to educate professionals in the art and science of compassionate communication.

Tags:  access  communication  improving patient experience  physician  telemedicine  trust 

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3 Ways to Engage Patients Between Visits

Posted By Fred Altimont, Monday, November 21, 2016
Updated: Monday, November 21, 2016

Quality and cost. Two of the most important elements of the healthcare industry today, and key ingredients driving the shift from volume- to value-based care. Providers face tremendous pressure to deliver higher-quality care at a lower cost, and engaging patients in their own care can help on both of these fronts. On top of better health outcomes, engaged patients also typically report higher satisfaction levels.

The problem? Many patients’ interactions with their doctors are limited to the 10-minute in-person visit. Patients can often feel rushed and forget the questions they wanted to ask, and don’t have the time to process new information, leading to frustration. The patients return home, only to feel they’ve lost access to the personalized care and support of an in-person visit.

So, how can providers engage their patients between visits? There are a few ways technology can help bridge this gap.

Remote Monitoring

The proliferation of wearables and mobile devices means we are now more connected than ever before. Patients can monitor and report activity levels, symptoms, and even vital signs today from the comfort of their own homes. When shared with doctors, this data can not only empower patients to self-manage their care, but also inform clinical teams, creating a more productive in-person visit. Data overload for the physician is easily avoidable by setting mutually-aligned goals with the patient. The patient monitors his or her vital sign ranges, and the physician is only alerted when a vital falls outside that range.

Education

Often, a large portion of the office visit is spent educating patients about conditions and treatments. But when the patient only has a short, fixed amount of time with the doctor, retaining instructions or other information can be hard to do. What if that same education could be delivered virtually, though, freeing up more time with the patient to answer questions and have other discussion? For instance, a digital health program could educate patients about how to manage their allergies during the approaching pollen season, or teach them how to properly use an inhaler.

Communication

As simple as it sounds, a quick note to a patient between visits can improve patient engagement. In fact, a recent study from the International Journal for Quality in Health Care found that secure messaging “appears to be associated with higher quality diabetes care, particularly among at-risk populations.” By feeling more connected to care teams, patients often report higher satisfaction levels and may be more engaged in self-managing their conditions. The use of video can also propel the connected relationship for the patient. In seeing a provider’s face, patients can develop a deeper bond with the entire care team.

The in-person doctor visit holds a valuable place in the care continuum and cannot - and should not - be fully replaced. The relationships and trust built during face-to-face time are crucial in caring for patients in their health journey. With the right tools, however, these visits can be supplemented to facilitate even more trust and compassion, while delivering healthier outcomes. We’re committed to bridging this gap to improve patients’ lives and look forward to driving innovation in this area.

 

Fred Altimont is executive vice president at ViiMed, a digital health company that delivers customers’ care plans for acute, chronic, and episodic conditions through cloud-based software.

Tags:  cost  mobile devices  patient engagement  quality  technology  trust  wearables 

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