Telemedicine is changing the way providers deliver care to their patients. While it requires little additional training on the provider side, the environment in which you conduct telemedicine visits requires a bit more thought. Your virtual exam room is more than the background of a video conference. As the healthcare industry continues to adapt to consumers’ needs and desires, a top-notch video experience to complement the top-notch care you already deliver can make the investment worthwhile for patients and providers alike.
Here are our tips for telemedicine care when it comes to preparing your virtual exam room for success:
Lighting Is Everything
Have you ever watched a movie or TV show and thought something looked off, but couldn’t put your finger on it? There’s a good chance improper or inadequate lighting were to blame. If the lighting in your virtual exam room isn’t right, it could give your telemedicine appointment that same feeling, potentially affecting the assessment and diagnosis you give.
Fortunately, ensuring your exam room is illuminated properly takes very little time, money, and effort. When making changes to the lighting in your exam room, make sure to consider these three tips for telemedicine care:
- Choose Your Source Carefully: Natural lighting works best for all skin tones, but because it’s hard to come by in most healthcare facilities, make sure your artificial lighting source is big, bright, and most importantly, not flickering. Another key to proper lighting: Don’t mix the types of light your sources emit. A fluorescent ceiling light combined with a LED light bar behind the camera can affect not just the image quality, but your ability to properly assess your patient as well.
- Pay Attention to Direction: A basic three-point light setup will help make you and your patient look great on camera and ensures you are able to make a complete and accurate assessment. If you can’t or aren’t willing to invest that much, consider using a secondary, “fill” source to remove any harsh shadows. Make sure that your lighting source is shining brightly on the subject, from behind the camera; a light source’s direction can make all the difference in a telemedicine appointment.
- Be Willing to Experiment: What looks good in person doesn’t always translate well to video. Before you ever begin seeing patients through telemedicine, run some tests with different lighting and camera positions to see what works best.
The clothing providers wear can also have a noticeable effect on the quality of their virtual presence. When dressing for telemedicine visits, take into consideration how the camera angle, lighting, and on screen appearance will affect the appointment.
Excessively bright or dark colors should be avoided; those crisp white lab coats look clean and professional in person but may shine a bit too brightly on screen. Likewise, pinstripes, checks, and other noisy patterns that look great in person can be jarring on the screen and can even make some people nauseous. Patterns and color aren’t the only thing that may not translate well from in-person to on screen, clothing that’s conservative in person can lose some of its modesty and professionalism if the camera isn’t angled properly. Who knew picking out the right tie could be a part of good bedside manner?
People will fill up most of the frame in a telemedical exam, and your efforts to build a good visual presence should have that in mind. But, the room in which you conduct these exams matters too. Ensuring the space these visits take place in is camera-friendly can directly affect your organization’s on screen presence and reputation as a telemedical facility.
Many of the same factors that influence personal appearance can also affect the way a room looks on-camera. The small, intricate abstract painting in the background may have the same dizzying effect as your provider’s favorite tie; the window that looks so pleasant and serene in person may turn your provider into a shadowed silhouette on the patient’s screen.
Clutter is another crucial consideration when discussing tips for telemedicine care. Because the camera frame naturally limits the patient’s view, things that aren’t considered clutter in a traditional visit can have the opposite effect in a telemedical exam: The jar of cotton swabs or box of latex gloves on the counter may look completely normal within context, but may dominate the camera frame and look messy in a virtual visit.
Those who really care about the way their exam room looks on camera, may want to follow the rule of thirds: Imagine the camera’s frame is split into three even sectors, with anything appearing on your side of the camera proportionately filling out these sections. For example, your desk should fill the bottom third of the screen, while you, as the provider and the primary point of focus, should fill the majority of the camera frame.
None of these ideas are particularly difficult to implement, but the effect they will have on both your patient’s experience and your ability to properly execute a telemedicine exam are worth taking them into consideration. And just like practicing medicine, executing the perfect telemedical assessment takes time and experience; you’ll figure out the best approaches as you go.