From bedside manner to “webside” manner: How telemedicine is making physicians rethink how they act

Frank
September 28, 2018
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telemedicine, telehealth, doctor, patient, physician

As the healthcare industry marches forward, more and more organizations are utilizing telemedicine.

Businesses have started offering it as an employee benefit, and numerous healthcare organizations see implementing a telehealth program as a priority. Its prevalence has prompted some to ask whether we should start offering free telemedicine consultations.

But while being swept away by the excitement surrounding virtual visits, we’ve forgotten to consider an important element of their success: “webside” manner.

No, not bedside manner. Webside manner. It’s the way a physician is able to communicate and convey empathy to a patient during a telehealth visit. It encompasses a whole host of factors: how close the provider is sitting to the camera, the background of the room they’re in, the lighting and what they’re wearing. Not to mention the Internet connection and all the technology working properly.

“It sounds strange, but when you’re on camera all your actions are magnified,” said Elizabeth Krupinski, a professor at the University of Arizona and associate director of evaluation for its telemedicine program, according to a Wired article. “You take a sip of coffee and your mug takes up the whole screen, and all they hear is the sound of you slurping. Or you turn away to take a note, and now all your patient sees is your shoulder. Maybe you disappear from the frame entirely.”

Being aware of these details can be overwhelming to the physician, who, on top of everything, also has to provide proper care.

That’s why organizations like UC Davis Health have created their own telemedicine clinics. At UC Davis’ clinic, the room looks like an office, complete with a desk and computer. There are also books in the background and better overall lighting.

“We try our best to control as much of the environment as we can, so the doctors can be doctors,” said James Marcin, director of the pediatric telemedicine program at UC Davis Health, according to the article.

The importance of these intricacies is backed by an analysis. As part of a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers had trained patients undergo virtual visits through a number of direct-to-consumer telehealth companies. The researchers found great variation in the quality of care and webside manner of physicians. The dissimilarities were across companies and by patient condition.

Despite all the talk of providers, it’s crucial to remember the other part of the equation: the patient, who also must maintain good webside manner. While they don’t have to be as professional as the provider, patients should certainly avoid flashing, which appears to be a current fad in the telemedicine world.

Photo: verbaska_studio, Getty Images

EHRs alone are insufficient to succeed in value-based care. That’s why hospitals and health systems are integrating an analytics platform.

Learn about how well executives are dealing with value-based care (VBC) models, and what technologies they’re using to achieve their goals.

Frank’s source: https://medcitynews.com/2017/11/bedside-webside-telemedicine/

 

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