Do doctors have the right ‘bedside manner’ for telehealth?
Eric Wicklund – Editor, mHealthNews
Doctors and nurses are often praised (or admonished) for their bedside manner. But in today’s mHealth-flavored world, do they have to have a different skillset for delivering care via telehealth?
In a word? Yes.
“You can be a great physician and not be a great telemedicine physician,” says Randy Parker, CEO of MDLIVE, a Florida-based telehealth provider. “You need a ‘desktop manner.’ It’s a different level of skill that you never learned in medical school.”
Your actions and reactions are much different if you’re in a room with a patient, as opposed to communicating with one over a video feed or via e-mail or text. And yet, if you’re delivering healthcare, each of these situations has to be treated with the utmost care. You can’t be any less attentive or diligent just because you’re in another location.
“There’s a whole comfort level and professionalism involved (in telehealth) that many doctors don’t get,” says Parker, who estimates that about half of the nation’s doctors aren’t getting it right. “There’s even a dress code, and a way you present yourself” in a video encounter.
It all boils down to that popular catchphrase: Patient engagement – or, to be more accurate, consumer engagement, since telehealth doctors may be interacting with people who aren’t their normal patients. That’s important, because a doctor who doesn’t look comfortable or isn’t engaging in an e-mail or video encounter runs the risk of losing that consumer as a patient – or, worse, having that consumer become so disengaged as to reject or ignore whatever diagnosis or medical advice is offered.