Overview on telehealth
In the past couple of decades, the use of technology to deliver healthcare services (a process known as telehealth) has significantly grown in popularity. This type of healthcare allows practitioners to deliver their services to patients in need from the comfort of their own homes, improving accessibility, communication, and in some cases, even clinical outcomes. The equipment and resources required to operate telehealth services successfully at your business vary depending on the field of healthcare you work in and how large your practice is. Most businesses employ practice management software to streamline various administrative tasks and manage areas like Patient Average Visit (PVA), but there are additional factors you need to consider, including the physical background of your remote workspace.
Benefits of telehealth in today's pandemic era
Following the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the increase in telehealth usage resulted in a wide range of different benefits for healthcare businesses.
Given that telehealth means patients don’t have to leave their homes to receive care, there has been a significant reduction in no-shows. Patients no longer have to worry about transport, getting time off work, or finding childcare, and as a result, are much more likely to attend all of their appointments.
Fewer out-of-network transfers
When patients need to see specialists, they are often transferred to out-of-network providers who are geographically convenient. Offering telehealth reduces the likelihood of this happening, as the geographical location of a provider no longer plays a role and you can keep your referrals within your network.
Although there will be a cost to the telehealth technology that you use and certain pieces of equipment, over the long run there will be significantly reduced costs. These are in relation to overhead costs including rent and physical facilities, less need for administrative staff, and going paperless. After you have reduced these costs, you can have another look into setting the right prices at your practice.
Ability to attend to more patients
Telehealth eliminates accessibility barriers, meaning you will be able to see a wider range of patients. Additionally, because you won’t have limitations on treatment rooms and physical capacities, you will likely have room in your schedule to attend to more patients.
More time for patients
Practitioners also benefit from not having to go into the clinic to treat their patients. Instead, they can remain in the comfort of their own home, and organize their schedule so they are able to spend more time with their patients and meet all of their needs.
What does a virtual background say about your telehealth practice?
Even though you can remain at home, offering telehealth still requires a physical environment policy for your healthcare business. In order to make a good impression on your patients, you need to consider what virtual background is the most appropriate. When you are conducting your services with patients, you want to ensure that they feel confident in your professional capabilities and that your environment reflects this well. This means working in a well-lit area with a high-quality camera and microphone and good technology. Guaranteeing all of these aspects will generate an effective virtual background, in turn indicating to your patient that their treatment will be just as productive using telehealth as it would be in person. Moving to telehealth is an understandably daunting prospect for both patients and practitioners, and focusing on these small things will help make the change as seamless as possible.
Being prepared for technical challenges during telehealth sessions
Even with the most sophisticated technology, it is highly likely that you will encounter some kind of technical difficulties during your telehealth sessions. Whilst these occurrences are stressful, with the right protocols in place you should be able to quickly and effectively resolve them. Testing your system (and microphone/camera) and asking patients to do the same is a good preventative measure to take. Additionally, you should ensure that the telehealth vendor you have in place has accessible and flexible customer support who can help you resolve any issues you may face. Lastly, it is good practice to run a wifi test at the beginning of each day to determine whether your internet connection is stable enough for your sessions.
Tips to create a visually appealing background for your telehealth practice
There are different strategies you can employ to ensure your background is visually appealing to patients. These include:
Ensure the room is well lit
Because body language is much more difficult to read when you are not in person, it is extremely important to operate your virtual sessions from a well-lit space. This will allow your patients to see you more clearly and pick up cues from your body language.
Take note of colors surrounding you
This may sound like an unnecessary point, but the colors that surround your workspace can have a big impact on patients. Whilst bright colors aren’t necessarily a bad thing, you don’t want you or your patients to be distracted by the background. Opting for a minimalist space with a cohesive color scheme is definitely a good option.
Avoid backgrounds with photo/video
Most virtual video calling systems offer the ability to use a customized photo or video as your background. While this can be fun, when you move around the photo will also shift and the image of you can be cut off or choppy. This is both a distraction to patients and appears unprofessional.
Visually optimize your screen
To visually optimize your screen, you should have your brightness turned up, and screen size enlarged. This allows you to focus more clearly on the patient and interact with them appropriately. It is also a good idea to encourage patients to do the same - you want to foster an environment that is as close to being in-person as possible, which requires both parties to have their full attention during the session. Optimizing your screen is a fantastic way to engage with your patients and generate patient loyalty.
Choose professional clothing like you would at your clinic
Even though you are at home, you should always remain professional, and this means wearing professionally appropriate clothing. Approaching telehealth sessions in the same way as you would in-person sessions helps to establish you as a reputable business. It has the additional advantage of appearing prepared and professional, two factors that are necessary, especially when dealing with difficult patients.
Use a good therapist chair
Investing in a good therapist chair will not only provide you more comfort during the day, but it allows you to adjust the height so you can switch between your laptop and desktop easily.
Background ideas for therapists
Each therapist will have their own preferences for how their background should appear. The image below indicates a possible option. Using both a laptop and a desktop allows you to navigate between your patient and other information, including their medical records or personal data. You should also have an improved sound system set up nearby, and a paper or pen in case you need to handwrite notes. The individual is also dressed professionally, indicating to their patient that they are prepared, responsible, and reliable. In order to ensure your patients love both the waiting room experience and their treatment sessions, you need to spend some time creating a clean and professional environment.
Although using telehealth means you can work from the comfort of your own home, you still need to consider the physical environment of your workspace. There is a wide range of different factors that contribute to this, including color, lighting, space, sound, and any potential distractions. In order to minimize the risk of your patient not being engaged in their session, you need to act as if all of your telehealth appointments are just like in-person appointments. Coming to the session prepared and professional will demonstrate your reliability and help to make patients comfortable and confident in your services.