The way you interact with patients is critical in determining your success as a physician. Approaching your patients with a compassionate and supportive attitude, whether in-person or remotely, ensures a positive patient-doctor relationship and better health outcomes.
Remote communication can get lost in translation easily if you’re not intentional about webside manner. Physicians need to be more conscious of professionalism, empathy, eye contact and listening skills when communicating with patients virtually.
What is Webside Manner?
Webside manner is the virtual equivalent of bedside manner, or the way a doctor interacts and communicates with a patient. Bedside manner carries over differently through technology. Whether you’re communicating with a patient through text, phone call or video, it’s important that you make adjustments in your approach to get your message across clearly and achieve good rapport.
Webside Manner Tips
Consider your environment.
Think about where you will hold your telemedicine appointments. Ensure that you are in a private, well-lit space, free of distractions, where your patient can communicate with you comfortably and openly. Make sure your space is without background noise or interruptions for seamless communication.
Look at the camera.
Eye contact is crucial in developing good webside manner, however, it can be difficult to achieve over a video call. In order to make “eye contact” with your patient, you must focus on the camera. Train yourself to glance at the camera every once in a while rather than focusing on the patient’s eyes on your monitor.
Use positive body language.
Non-verbal communication demonstrates empathy and reassures patients that you understand their concerns. Use facial expressions and nod your head to acknowledge your patient’s words. Maintain an open chest to communicate interest and openness, rather than crossing your arms or leaning back. Avoid using too many distracting hand motions.
It’s important that you stay seated and attentive to your patient’s needs during a telehealth call. Refrain from getting up or moving around while you’re on camera. Hold off on eating, drinking or other activities on your call to give the patient your full attention.
Practice intentional listening.
When you’re speaking through the phone or a video call, it’s easy to zone out and lose focus. Practice being intentional about listening to your patients’ every word. Listen with intent, rather than assuming their next words before responding or talking over them.
Present yourself with professionalism.
Be sure to dress professionally and appropriately for your telemedicine calls to make a good impression on your patients and demonstrate your credibility.