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8 Ways Practitioners Can Facilitate a Great Telehealth Appointment

David Johnson

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8 Ways Practitioners Can Facilitate a Great Telehealth Appointment

Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

As we approach the two-year anniversary of COVID-19’s earliest cases, many practitioners and patients alike are comfortable with telehealth appointments. It didn’t take long for the healthcare industry to adapt to this new way of patient care. While telemedicine appointments provide benefits such as safety and convenience, plenty of mental health providers are finding themselves eager to resume face-to-face interactions.

In-person appointments may be ideal for many providers, but they aren’t accessible for every patient. For this reason, healthcare professionals need to continue providing high-quality care for virtual patients as well. Here are eight ways mental health practitioners can facilitate a productive, successful telehealth appointment.

Prepare

Mental healthcare providers should be as prepared as possible before every virtual appointment. Consider factors like internet speed, webcam quality, and access to determine necessary documents and assessments before scheduling an appointment.

Before beginning the appointment, many practitioners find it helpful to take a deep breath and focus on something they appreciate about their client before beginning the call. When the call begins, simply smiling and warmly greeting your patient can set a great tone for the appointment.

Consider Rescheduling Assessments

While assessments are necessary to many clinical settings, telehealth doesn’t always lend itself to an accurate diagnosis. It is important to consider factors like time sensitivity, anxiety, environment, and behaviors when scheduling a virtual assessment. Assessments should be rescheduled or repeated later if needed.

Think About Age

Telehealth appointments tend to be easier for older children and teenagers due to improved attention spans and communication skills. You may consider a facilitator like a parent or another trained person at home to assist with a virtual appointment for a younger child.

Examine the Patient’s Background

It is important to remember that your clients come from various socioeconomic backgrounds and not everyone has access to a computer, WiFi, and other technology that makes telehealth visits possible. Of course, other factors like language barriers and disabilities should always be considered as well.

Discuss Anxiety

COVID-19 has caused increased collective anxiety among patients. This can affect assessments and appointments in various ways, so it is crucial to always consider the patient’s anxiety levels both before and during the pandemic. Sharing specific COVID-related anxiety coping skills is always a great way to ensure your patients are receiving the best care possible.

Shorten Your Explanations

Staying focused can be more difficult when using telehealth. Because of this, patients may find it more difficult to listen and fully comprehend long-winded talks and explanations. By breaking speech into chunks, allowing for questions, checking for understanding, and repeating when necessary, clients will get a lot more out of their telemedicine appointments.

Summarize

With an increase in anxiety and a lack of focus comes a decrease in memory. After-visit summaries are crucial to long-term care. At the end of every appointment, providers should encourage questions and follow-ups when deemed appropriate.

Encourage Patient Portal Use

In order to facilitate consistent ongoing communication, practitioners should always encourage their patients to utilize the online patient portal used by their practice. In the age of virtual appointments, being able to communicate, schedule appointments, and share documents online only makes sense.

It is crucial for providers to bring plenty of clinical considerations into play when scheduling and facilitating telehealth appointments. There are many factors that can affect the validity of virtual assessments, but WPS can help you find the right resources to make telehealth a great tool for patients and practitioners alike.

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