Since the outbreak of COVID-19, we’ve seen a steep rise in the use of Telehealth, with speculation that this will lead to a permanent shift in the delivery of healthcare in Australia. For those looking to establish a Telehealth service, the team at MediRecruit has put together some tips to help with the transition.
To get yourself started, first decide on what technology you will use to deliver your Telehealth services. This technology should be easily accessible to both yourself and your clients, as well as user-friendly.
There are many platforms that you can use to set up your Telehealth service. CoViu is a common platform used by Allied Health practitioners. Used across a variety of disciplines, this platform enables integration with patient management software and offers tools such as multiple cameras for visual cues and data presentations. There are also some apps on the platform that allows for assessments online, including range of motion. Therapists find it very secure given that it doesn’t require a download and instead runs on a web browser that is easily accessible for patients.
Therapists are also finding these web-based platforms preferable to contact based platforms that raise concerns around availability, such as Skype and Face Time.
Some other platforms that can be used include Zoom, Hangouts (if you are using the Google G Suite for your backend), and WhatsApp (a phone interface only which is free on any device – android or iOS).
At MediRecruit, our preferred platform for video conferencing and interviewing is Zoom – and the free version is readily available for PC and Mac users to download and use immediately. Note though, that on the free version you are limited to a 40 minute session before you are automatically disconnected. For longer appointments, it’s advisable to invest in the pro version.
You will need a computer, laptop or smart device; a webcam monitor or inbuilt camera; inbuilt microphone, speakers and a stable Internet connection. Make sure the equipment you choose to use produces a high-quality image and sound to ensure your clients can hear you clearly. Also be aware of the lighting in the room – if you have your face facing natural light, you will appear visibly clearer.
Where you deliver your Telehealth service needs to be carefully considered. Your space needs to be private, quiet and free from distraction. This will ensure that you come across professionally whilst delivering your service online, and establishing clear communication between yourself and your clients. You may even wish to blur or use a virtual background to protect your own privacy. Virtual backgrounds can also be a useful tool for Paediatric consultations.
Preparation is key when it comes to delivering Telehealth. Before each appointment set aside time check the technology is working. Also, be sure to have a phone nearby just in the case you experience any video calling technical difficulties.
Before your consultation, ensure your client has a good understanding of what Telehealth involves; how it will apply to their unique situation; and how their privacy will be protected. This introduction doesn’t have to be a formal discussion – you might like to prepare a document or pamphlet that you can email to the client before the first appointment.
Don’t forget to involve family members and caregivers in the installation and set-up of these new systems – this is particularly important for clients who might have trouble accessing and/or limited capabilities in using unfamiliar technology. Utilising support people in the transition to Telehealth can help to achieve a successful and sustainable service.
5. Communicating Online
To begin the consultation, it might be a good idea to start the conversation with an icebreaker, so that your client feels comfortable interacting. It could be something as simple as “have you had your morning coffee yet?”.
To keep the meeting running smoothly, incorporate visual cues to help gauge your audience’s level of understanding, rather than engaging in a conversation that then leads you off topic completely. A visual cue can simply be a thumbs up or asking your client to give a 0 to five level of understanding with their fingers.
Transitioning from face-to-face to online can have its challenges. Be aware that your time with a client may now be limited. It can be beneficial to strategically plan out your online consultation and focus on how you can make the session most productive and relevant for your client’s individual circumstances. If you have a clear plan about what you will be covering, this will also help you feel more prepared and confident going into it.
Adapting to Telehealth can have its challenges, but hopefully, these tips will guide you towards delivering a manageable and sustainable service for your valued clients.
For more information regarding Telehealth, refer to these helpful links: