How’s my webside manner? Tips for effective online consultations
There’s no true substitute for in-person meetings, especially for plastic surgery, but the reality of our circumstances requires that we do online meetings. To be fair, sometimes it is better, especially for patients from out of town. I have done quite a few consultations with patients from out of state and even out of country, who are now awaiting a lift on travel restrictions. But just the fact that we are still required to limit the number of people in the
facility at any one time means that some routine visits are best done virtually. Here are a few things to keep in mind so that you get the most out of your virtual meeting:
Tips on how to get the most out of your online consultation
1. Remember that the privacy of a medical consultation, virtual or not, is protected by doctor-patient confidentiality. On our end, we use a HIPPA-compliant Zoom platform. On your end, think about how to minimize interruptions. If you have a family member who needs to be part of the visit, make sure they are able to clear the time on their schedule as well. Arrange for a private space where no one can wander by.
2. Send photos ahead of time. We don’t want to try to do a physical exam on a zoom meeting, so having pictures and all necessary background information beforehand will enable us to use the time most effectively.
3. Make sure your space is as free of distractions as possible. Think of it in the same way you would if you were seeing a doctor in their office; you want the environment to be well-lit, quiet, and comfortable.
4. Prepare your questions ahead of time. This is your chance to have a thorough discussion about your goals, and for us to develop a potential plan.
If the consultation is for a surgical procedure, it will be necessary to meet in-person at least once before the surgery. Where patients are coming from afar, this can be on the day before, but it is never a good idea to have surgery without an actual physical exam and face-to-face discussion.
I will say that I have been pleasantly surprised at how well online consultations and follow-up visits have worked, but I look forward to the time when it is a convenience more than a necessity. If you are interested in scheduling a zoom consultation please let me know.