Provider Spotlight: A Seasoned Physician at the Intersection of Emergency Medicine, Sports Medicine, and Telemedicine
We sat down with well-respected emergency and sports medicine physician (and newly minted telemedicine provider)...July 24, 2019
From a love for technology to having good webside manner, there are a few characteristics the best telemedicine providers share. Consider these seven traits for effectively communicating with patients via telemedicine and performing at your best.
Starting a career as a telemedicine provider is a unique opportunity, and with it, comes unique qualifications. While telehealth practitioners have a lot of qualities in common with onsite physicians and nurse practitioners, there are a few differences that set the two fields apart. If you have a passion for technology and helping patients through a different form of communication, you’re already well on your way! Read on for the full list of 7 key qualities telehealth providers should have to be successful in their careers.
Luddites need not apply! If you’re already a techie, or if you’re interested in dabbling in technology, working in telemedicine is a great fit for you. Technology changes at a rapid pace, and you have to adjust along with it. For now, at a minimum, you have to be comfortable using a webcam, apps or telemedicine software, and your internet connection. Some telemedicine companies are also starting to use digital stethoscopes and otoscopes administered via mobile telehealth techs. In the long-term, you should be willing to commit time to learn and master new technologies that come along with telehealth work in the future.
Not only do you need to be interested in technology, but you need to think about how technology may alter the way you are received by your patients. Technology removes you from your patients by another layer, so it’s important to be clear when you are conducting appointments. If you already have good bedside manner, your communication skills should transition well to webside manner - or the manner in which you interact with patients via technology. Keeping eye contact with the camera, using positive body language, and being mindful of what your surroundings look like on camera are just a few examples of how to extend good bedside manner to webside manner.
Keeping webside manner in mind, positivity is key. While technology helps to connect us, it can also help disconnect us from more subtle and nuanced emotions we would pick up on face-to-face. Anything neutral that might read as negativity could be amplified through a telemedicine call. When considering your approach, think about acting like a friendly neighbor, who just popped over online to conduct an appointment. This neighborly approach can also help patients who may be wary of opening up over the phone or video.
Because it’s harder to communicate remotely, it’s possible to get discouraged at times. You need to have that little extra something that drives you to want to improve your communication skills online and help patients despite technological obstacles or challenges. Your passion to heal and provide care will be what gets you through the moments where you feel harder to understand. Remember your calling and the numerous ways telemedicine is improving access to healthcare for thousands, if not millions, of Americans.
Telemedicine has no room for shyness. Your patients need to hear you loud and clear. Your best approach is to speak a bit slower than you might feel is necessary, project your voice, and enunciate properly. Look for signs on the other end of the call that the patient has heard you correctly, like nodding or repeating parts of your questions back to you.
Talking through technology can feel more impersonal. It’s harder to read cues from your patients’ body language, especially when you may only see their face or head and shoulders or if you are taking a telemedicine phone call. Instead of relying on these cues, focus more of your attention on what your patients are saying to you. If there’s something that you feel you may be misinterpreting, ask them for clarification. And don’t forget to consider differences in communication based on geography. Vernacular, slang, and communication styles can be very different from urban New York to rural Kentucky, so when speaking with someone from a different part of the country, it’s extra important to listen closely so you don’t misinterpret anything.
Although pursuing a career in telehealth is typically perceived as more of a “lone wolf” role, you’re still likely to be working with a team. Being able to collaborate with others without in-person interaction is key to thriving in this role. You should be willing to have regular check-ins with your team, make yourself accessible and available, and keep your positivity and open communication going on the internal side of your work.
So, you’ve reviewed our list of top qualities of telehealth providers, and it sounds like we’re describing you to a T? Perhaps you’ve found your next career move. Sign up to view our full listing of telehealth jobs, and put your telemedicine skills to good use.