Best Practices for Telehealth

Connecting empathetically through the screen

Teletherapy offers a host of benefits for both providers and patients. Though most therapists agree on the value of using Teletherapy, a key challenge they grapple with is being able to effectively convey empathy through a computer screen the way they do with an in-person treatment plan. After all, many of the subtle facial cues of communication that convey empathy can get lost through a static screen. 

This concern is inspiring therapists to rethink their “bedside manner” as they turn toward teletherapy. While speaking through a screen can’t ever replicate a face-to-face discussion, there are certain basic tips to consider as you begin to conduct teletherapy sessions.

Ensure patient privacy

One of the most important things that you can do for your patients is to ensure that their privacy is protected and that they are aware of it. Establish consistent communication with your patients that they are comfortable within a video conferencing context and that you and your patient have taken measures to ensure that sessions are protected. Ensuring that your patient is comfortable and information will be confidential is a necessity for your patient’s experience with teletherapy.

Important tips

Practice in front of the web camera

Speaking to a camera doesn’t come naturally to everyone. You might find it helpful to have a few practice sessions to get used to being on camera before fully diving into teletherapy.

Pay even more attention to eye contact

It’s easy to get distracted when you’re sitting in front of your computer so it’s even more important that you pay attention to maintaining eye contact when speaking and listening through the computer camera.

Maintain the right environment

You’ve put effort into making your physical office a safe, comfortable, and relaxing space for your patients. Take the same approach with your teletherapy location. Maintain a background that is professional, uncluttered, and calm and keep yourself well-lit and visible during sessions.

Be more conscious of actions, words, and expressions

The nature of teletherapy provides one challenge of not being in the patient’s immediate space that having in-person appointments at the office provides. However, this isn’t a disadvantage that can’t be fixed. Therapists just need to adapt to practices that are particular to teletherapy and pay more special attention when needed. This means being more conscious of what your patients are presenting through the camera during the sessions. Be in tune and look out for significant actions, words, and expressions that your patients are communicating during video sessions. Additionally, with HIPAA Video’s recording feature, you can go back to take a closer look at your patients to better evaluate the session.

Test your system

Nothing is worse than poor internet connection or camera and microphone problems. It leads to frustration, and confusion, and might even push back appointments with your patients. Avoid these delays by consistently checking your internet connection, camera feature, and microphone feature are running smoothly on a daily basis. Technology is sensitive and can work one day while malfunctioning the next. Ensuring a smooth and stress-free video session is just the basic necessity of teletherapy and telehealth etiquette.


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