Does your telehealth space need a makeover?

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Let’s improve your telehealth service.

If you already offer your patients a telehealth service, or if you’re thinking of starting a telehealth service, it’s important to ensure your practice provides a suitable environment for delivering remote clinical care to patients.

According to the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners’ (RACGP) Standards for General Practitioners, GPs should always provide patients with a safe and effective environment – and this includes patients who connect via a video conferencing platform.

Telehealth spaces, just like in-person health spaces, need to be comfortable enough to foster connection between health professionals and their patients; but also have clinical functionality to enable patient examinations and diagnoses.

Here is a best-practice guide to help you improve your telehealth space, so you and your patients can get the most out of your virtual service.


LOCATION, DESIGN & LAYOUT

Find your space.

Wherever possible, rather than locating new premises for a telehealth service, try and utilise existing space in your practice or home that you can repurpose as a dedicated telehealth space. Examples include an empty exam room, a storage room, or home office. Ideally, the location should be in a quiet, low-traffic area.

Your telehealth space must be large enough for your requirements. Do you only need a desk and PC to connect with patients? Or do you need extra space for an exam table and medical devices to perform remote clinical examinations?

Whatever space you decide on, the layout must enable privacy and security for patients.

Find your lighting.

Good lighting has the potential improve the overall feel of a virtual visit for a remote patient. To ensure your room is well lit, use indirect, warm lighting to reduce shadow (3200K-4000K lumens are optimal). Avoid coloured lights and LEDs. Consider investing in a ring light that produces an even, all-over light. Lamps can also be used to compensate for poor light.

Be aware of your surrounds.

Keep walls plain and freshly painted in a neutral tone; declutter or remove shelves that are within camera range; ensure any windows are in front of you to avoid backlighting.

If you use medical furniture in your medical practice, you should also use medical furniture in your telehealth space.

Mind your sound.

Carpeted floors will improve acoustics and reduce echo.


PRIVACY & PATIENT DIGNITY

The RACGP says a well-designed layout will help maintain patient privacy – both visual and auditory privacy – as well as patient confidentiality.

A few things to consider are:

  • Can private conversations be overheard? Should you use a headset with an integrated microphone for confidential or private conversations?
  • Is there adequate sound proofing between internal walls, or solid, lockable doors on your telehealth clinic to prevent unexpected entry?
  • If you are in a shared space, can other colleagues/visitors see your computer screen during a video consultation?
  • For practitioners who use telehealth to conduct clinical examinations of remote patients, does the far-end health practitioner also have an appropriate clinical environment? For example, an examination table, medical devices, a sink, a curtain or screen for patients required to undress/dress. Does the space accommodate patients with accessibility needs?
  • Does your space have adequate heating, cooling, and ventilation? Electronic equipment, by its very nature, generates heat that can quickly make a small space uncomfortably warm.

Visionflex – telehealth technology for remote clinical examinations.

Credits: Feature photo by Laura Davidson on Unsplash