2020 has been a year filled with challenges. Stay at home orders, social distancing and personal protective equipment have changed the way we do business. Keeping patients engaged while ensuring their safety means remote meetings are now the norm.
Since April, our Patient and Family Advisory Council has been virtually gathering monthly, allowing our patients to continue to help us identify blind spots in healthcare.
Their voice has been essential in guiding Coronavirus messaging, evaluating new work flows, disseminating safety protocols, sharing concerns about well-checks during the pandemic, and improving telehealth visits.
One of the ways we have removed technology barriers is to reach out to advisors on an individual basis to schedule ‘practice meetings’ for those needing assistance or just to build confidence.
Depending on the available equipment, we tailor the meeting to the advisor. For each rehearsal meeting, we dial the number or click on the link so advisors know exactly what to expect. It’s rewarding to see the anxiety melt away and build confidence in this new meeting platform.
Think about how you format your slides. Each web conferencing platform is different so be knowledgeable about the orientation of panels.
We use WebEx and Zoom. When sharing your screen, the participant panel may cover the right-hand side of the PowerPoint slide.
Skew your content to the left so that all your text and images are clearly visible to the group.
In a time where everything seems less personal, welcome your advisors by leaving a message in the chat.
Encouraging the use of video also helps advisors connect with each other. In addition, having a co-facilitator monitor the chat during the meeting ensures that all voices are heard.
Creating community and building trust is even more important in the virtual environment.
Just as you would greet advisors prior to a ‘face-to-face’ meeting, making time to converse prior to PFAC business sets the tone for valuing patient- and family-centered care.
Eliminate ‘waiting rooms’ and engage advisors when they log in. I make a habit of opening the meeting 15 minutes in advance.
Technology is amazing when it works, but it doesn’t always cooperate.
Recruit a troubleshooter to assist advisors who may encounter technical difficulties. This will free up the facilitator to focus on engaging advisors. If you have a patient or family member with a technology background or skill set, this is a great way to involve them in a meaningful role.
Sometimes meetings can feel like controlled chaos. Virtual meetings require thoughtful communication to keep everyone engaged and on task. Advisors may not be aware of ‘virtual etiquette’ or know how to perform basic functions.
The first thing we do is teach our advisors how to mute themselves. Knowing how to mute all participants is a handy skill for a facilitator to know as a last resort. Leave space for silence, pause and allow your advisors to respond. Call on advisors by name to eliminate talking over each other. When you need to move on, use a momentum phrase, ‘Thank you for all the excellent feedback! if you have more ideas, please email me your thoughts.”
For meetings with dense content, keep your slides simple and use the notes function in your PowerPoint. If you are using a PowerPoint with notes, there is a way to view them without your advisors viewing them too. The trick is sharing your PowerPoint as a file rather than sharing as an application or sharing your screen. This allows you to be detailed in your presentation while avoiding information overload for your advisors.