Telehealth best practices

New to Telehealth? The challenges that Covid-19 and social distancing brought has led to made many businesses closing their doors and many patients in need of help as much as ever. Telehealth was already a rapidly growing service delivery model before Covid-19 came along. Now is an excellent time to investigate whether you can use telehealth to continue to provide your service to your clients in a remote and save way.

We’ve added HIPAA compliant Telehealth functionality and made it possible for you to easily schedule Telehealth sessions with clients through YellowSchedule. This is easy to do and there’s information on another blog article on this. However we thought it would be useful put together a quick guide on some of the basics for carrying out Telehealth appointments in a professional way.

Use the right equipment.

A laptop or computer with a high resolution webcam is best. Most laptops come with a webcam on them already. Obviously a more modern computer is best, but it may not be essential. If the built in webcam on your laptop is not up to scratch, you can always purchase an external web camera online which may help. (Many times camera issues can in fact be poor lighting conditions, if you are not getting good quality picture through your camera see our pointers on lighting below)

Try to avoid using your phone to carry out video sessions. Yes, video do work on your phone, and many clients will use their phone or tablet to talk to you. However it’s best to use a fixed computer that can’t fall over on you mid-call. If you must use a mobile device try to mount it or ensure that it is kept completely still!

If you’re using a laptop make sure it has enough battery charge to carry out the call and bear in mind video calls may drain your laptop battery quicker than normal. Our advice is to just keep it plugged in on the mains if you can.

Test your video and lighting in the preview window before you begin the session. The client has the same option available to them when they join on their side.

Make sure your internet connection is fast enough. If it’s a shared connection, are there other people downloading or streaming netflix shows?

Are you located a long way away from the WiFi router? This is one of the primary causes of poor connection speed in home office WiFi networks. Also try not to have the WiFi router directly beside other electronic or transmitting devices such as baby monitors, TV’s or microwaves.

Lighting

Natural light from a window in front of you is the very best source of light. If that’s not possible, ensure that any light is predominately shining INTO your face and not on the back of your head. When there’s light behind your head it will darken the whole picture being transmitted making you difficult to see. The best webcamera in the world is not going to help much if the lighting is wrong.

Remove distractions

A clean uncluttered environment is a must. A little effort goes a long way.

Turn off Tv’s and radio. If necessary close windows to keep outside noise to a minimum.

Working from home during Covid-19 Lock-down and have kids about? Unfortunately this can be a bit of a lottery, we’re still trying to figure this one out ourselves. Perhaps relax the rules a little on screen-time during lock-down? In our experience a brief mention to the client that a 3 year old monster might make an appearance means is generally received positively by clients.

Bear in mind that if there are likely to be distractions then use of headphones can help massively. All computers have a headphone jack which allows headphones to be plugged in and used. If you have some then keep them near you during the call so that they are there if you done need them.

HIPAA Compliance

Use software that guarantees HIPAA compliance. YellowSchedule provides HIPAA compliant end-to-end encrypted communications. If you use software other than YellowSchedule (let us know why!) try to ensure that your telecommunications software is still HIPAA compliant.

There’s lots of live popular videoconferencing software out there but very few offer HIPAA compliance and assurances on security and privacy. The popularity of Zoom, for example, has escalated rapidly during covid-19 lock-downs due to a fremium pricing model, but Zoom does not support end-to-end encryption, has numerous security flaws which are easily exploited, and serious privacy issues including selling of user data for advertising purposes. As a result Zoom is not suitable for Telehealth.

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