Telehealth can greatly improve the lives of elderly patients. It’s a cost-effective option that allows seniors to continue living in their own homes, which increases patient satisfaction. Plus, telehealth reduces the need for excessive traveling to appointments, and decreases the stress on caregivers. 

As technology advances, providers are increasingly interacting with patients through phones and laptop screens. It can be challenging for providers to maintain their bedside manner. While virtual provider-patient interaction is different, many aspects do remain the same—providers still need to be friendly, compassionate, and trustworthy.  

First, we’ll explore why bedside manner is important, and then we’ll explain how to apply bedside manner to virtual healthcare.  

Why is bedside manner important? 

Beside manner is the way providers interact with their patients. Good bedside manner is the art of treating patients like people, not just another number in your workday. eMDs writes, “Your ability to communicate with your patients with empathy, understanding, and in terms the patient understands creates a strong foundation for a lasting patient-provider relationship.” 

Healthgrades found that 52% of patients say their doctor needs to have one of the following: 

  • Bedside manner 
  • Compassion 
  • Comfort 
  • Patience 
  • Personality 

“Patients don’t just want to see a doctor, they want to be seen,” says Healthgrades chief medical officer, Dr. Bowman. And when patients do feel seen, they’re more likely to experience  

  • Better provider-patient relationships 
  • Increased treatment and medication adherence  
  • Better healthcare outcomes 

All of these benefits can be applied to virtual visits as well. Even when doctors aren’t bedside, they can still practice communicating with patients in a way that makes them feel seen. “Webside” manner is the bedside manner expressed via telehealth.  

What is “webside” manner?

When delivering virtual healthcare, direct interaction and physical cues are limited. It makes it harder for providers to recognize nonverbal cues. Plus, telehealth can make it more challenging to connect with patients. Webside manner is seemingly harder, because it’s not quite the same as bedside manner. It’s like using a new muscle.   

Dr. Brian Donley says compassion and bedside manner is like a muscle: “The more you exercise it, the stronger it gets.” And the same goes for webside manner. 

So how can providers practice webside manner? Here’s how:  

  • Ask more detailed questions. Because you’re not able to get as many nonverbal cues, you’ll need the patient to give more detailed answers. And that starts with asking more detailed questions to encourage meaningful patient engagement.  
  • Use positive upper body language. Patients can only see your upper half. It’s important to use positive body language in your upper half. For example, nod your head in understanding, relax your shoulders, lean forward in interest, sit up instead of slouching, and look into the camera.  
  • Avoid fidgeting. Your equipment is most likely sensitive to small noises, even slight tapping or clicking of your pen. Avoid fidgeting, and be transparent with your patients if you’re typing or taking notes about them. They might think you’re multitasking, instead of listening to them. Also, wait to take a bite to eat until you hang up from the call.  
  • Listen intentionally. Being booked with patients can make it challenging to listen intently. Practice listening well and making your patients feel heard. 
  • Present yourself professionally. Even virtually, first impressions matter. Dress and present yourself professionally to show patients that you take your job seriously.  
  • Limit distractions in your background and choose great lighting. A blank wall behind you is best. 
  • Use a light and positive tone. Virtually, the best way to demonstrate empathy is by using a light and positive tone in your voice. The words you say are important too, but the tone you use is key.  
  • Close the appointment by reviewing the treatment plan. Make sure patients understand their plan, and leave extra time for questions to make sure that they have all the information they need. 

Good webside manner starts with picking a great telehealth option.

One key component of webside manner is limiting technological distractions and hiccups. That means choosing a great telehealth option. Ōmcare’s Home Health Hub® a video-based healthcare solution to connect providers and patients. Reach out to Ōmcare today to learn more.