As soon as you realize the patient can hear you, “Thank you for inviting me in your home today” would be an easy start to begin the consultation. A simple acknowledgement that they have invited you into their home by using the technology can speak volumes about your willingness to understand the patient’s internal state. Research has shown that people can tell if you are smiling by the tone of your voice so, for patients you know, reflect upon something you admire about them before initiating the call. This will naturally make you smile when you greet the patient, warmly expressing that you are happy to have the chance to talk with the patient today, and contributing to lower many of the patient resistances or barriers.
Because of technological constraints, your capability to detect the body language will be strongly impaired during remote consultations, therefore you have to use your speech to demonstrate engagement and empathy, and you have to pay more attention and carefully listen to the patient tone and language to integrate the spoken words.
During the consultation you will still need to capture notes and outcomes as they would be for a face-to-face appointment. This will allow you to clearly share an end of appointment summary, containing:
Before ending the appointment, check the patient’s preference for future contact. If they are happy to have a virtual consultation again and use email as a more efficient way of contacting, you can continue using virtual consultations as the ‘norm’. Finally remember to give the patient a chance to ask any final questions.