Given our sudden thrust into full-time virtual health in the face of COVID-19, it is likely many frontline providers have not had an opportunity to effectively adapt their practice routine to support virtual health.
Here are a few practical tips to support transitioning your patient panel to virtual services. It's all about the pre-visit planning!
Consider your patient panel
Virtual health is not a one size fits all, but rather a continuum of modalities ranging from telephonic, to secure chat, to video. To find the format that is the best fit for your client, ask yourself:
Are they tech savvy?
Is there a caregiver, family member or friend who is tech savvy and can help them?
And the most common of all questions, does my client have a solid connection to the Internet? (Hint: it’s a good idea to test ahead of time.)
Learn more in the Blaze tip sheet, Five-step process to help get set-up on mobile device/laptop/tablet.
It’s also important to reach out to your client and provide proactive support and coaching. Some considerations:
If your organization is using a virtual waiting room or clients are "waiting to connect," what does that look like? How long should your client wait? Who do they call if no one starts the session? The same goes for arriving late, both for you as the provider and for the client. Ensure your client knows your appointment time frames (e.g., 15 minutes late and session is canceled).
Know your organization's process for virtual consent. Explain and obtain consent to virtual health from each client.
Spend some time discussing fears about virtual health privacy.
Find more helpful tips in the Blaze tip sheet, Preparing for your virtual health session.
Screening and triage are vital
Make screening/triage the first point of virtual health contact using standardized screening tools or wellness checks prior to your therapeutic session.
Learn more in the Blaze tip sheet, Virtual Engagement Tip Sheet: Telephonic Wellness Check
The screening process will help you effectively organize your visit and provide insight into:
Length of visit type and locations of virtual visit (video, phone, face-to-face, community/office)
Collaborative visit or 1:1 (Do we need others involved? MD, peer, family member etc.)
Material you need for the session (visual aids, split screen video)
Your first session
Consider your surroundings and what the client can see and hear. Remove personal and/or distracting materials from view.
Maintain eye contact throughout your virtual session. You want your client to feel they have your full attention.
Avoid doing other work, looking at other screens, or taking notes for long periods of time. It can be distracting for your clients if they see you constantly looking away.
Be mindful of your eye contact and explain to your clients why you are looking away when it is necessary.
See our next post on Boosting Your Virtual Health Session.