Choosing the right setting for a telemedicine call

Users of telehealth services often struggle with privacy concerns, technology barriers, and a general disassociation between patients and providers. Conducting online appointments in a comfortable and efficient location can help medical professionals mitigate some of these issues. Here are a few ideas to consider when picking out a setting for telehealth calls.

Privacy

First and foremost, health providers need to uphold the same privacy expectations as they would on-site. Online healthcare programs such as Doxy.me use HIPPA-compliant software to keep appointments confidential. Likewise, areas used to discuss sensitive information like family history or serious diagnoses through video chat must enable physicians to honor doctor-patient privilege.

According to an article in the Journal of Medical Systems, "To ensure privacy, both patient and physician should take the virtual consultation in a quiet space with reduced background noise." Whether doctors perform telehealth calls from their home, clinic, or hospital, they must use discretion.

Possible Areas for Online Doctor Visits

For those working remotely, a home office where physicians can interact with patients uninterrupted is ideal. Private practice doctors should close the door and hang a "Do Not Disturb" sign outside their office during online meetings. An empty exam room at the hospital or clinic serves as an effective telemedicine setting for those without their own office.

Practicality

When choosing a spot for remote medical appointments, consider the practical features of the space. There are several elements that a room must have to support high-quality online consultations. Some of these factors include: 

  • Adequate Lighting: Grainy images and low-resolution video inhibit remote patient monitoring. While a high-definition camera is essential, appropriate lighting is just as important. Opt for a location in front of a window for natural light or use a lamp with bright LED bulbs.
  • Proper Acoustics: Be conscious of any echoing in the room, as well as detectable background noises. For added security and ease-of-use, microphones and headphones can help maintain patient privacy and reduce disruptions.
  • Technological Accommodations: Telemedicine calls require suitable equipment and a strong internet connection. To improve video call quality and avoid lag, consider using a wired connection rather than Wi-Fi. For the best picture, make sure computer hardware is up-to-date.

Professionalism

Scheduling doctor appointments online might be intimidating for many people, so medical professionals need to recreate the calm and competent feel of a traditional face-to-face office as much as possible. Advent Health University recommends maintaining a "work-appropriate background aesthetic" for a design that simulates an in-person exam room.

Some physicians may decide to conduct virtual healthcare visits in front of an undecorated wall or a plain cloth backdrop. These setups have a clean look that cuts down on distractions during telemedicine calls. Be sure to select a background in an unobtrusive shade like white, tan, or gray for a neutral and polished appearance.

Personalization

A telemedicine call setting should help put patients at ease. The American Psychological Association suggests using "positive distractions" such as artwork and tasteful decor to "provide a respite from talking about weighty issues." These features can give patients a more personal telehealth experience and encourage them to continue using the service. 

  • Use Muted Colors: Light shades of yellow, blue, and green create an inviting atmosphere. These hues may help patients remain calm during therapeutic sessions or discussions about diagnoses, treatment options, and other medical matters.
  • Choose Simple Accents: When deciding on a professional background, avoid intricate and flashy wall art that draws attention away from the appointment. Decor should be simple, inoffensive, and functional.
  • Personalize the Space: Seeing family photos or other personal touches during an online doctor visit humanizes physicians in the eyes of their patients. This might improve their rapport and promote more productive interactions.

Remember the Four Ps

Adjusting to online healthcare practices can be challenging. However, choosing the right location for virtual healthcare meetings makes the process easier for doctors and their patients. A private, practical, professional, and personalized space allows physicians to provide optimal care and give clients a comfortable and satisfactory experience.