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Preparing patients for telehealth

Creating an emergency plan

Planning can go a long way to prepare you for an emergency situation and set expectations with your patients.

With telehealth, you’re seeing patients outside of the safety and control of your office. An emergency situation may arise from a wide range of causes, including a mental health crisis, stroke/heart attack, overdose, etc.

Answer the following questions with your patient before or during their first appointment.

  • What’s the full address for the location where your patient plans to do their telehealth appointment? You will need to confirm at the beginning of each appointment that they are in this location and if not, get the address of their current location.
  • What are the direct, 10-digit emergency contact numbers for that location? 911 only works if you are in the same location as the person needing help and calls cannot usually be forward to the correct location. The best way to find this information is to use a search engine to find local numbers for emergency services like the police, fire department, mobile crisis unit, crisis hotline, nearest urgent care or emergency room.
  • What is the contact information for other health care providers who may need to be contacted in an emergency?
  • Who is their emergency contact? A family member, friend, neighbor — someone nearby who can offer support in the event of a crisis.
  • Get the patient’s authorization to release information to their emergency contact if needed.
  • What is the plan if you get disconnected during an emergency? Who will call whom and at what number?
  • Under what conditions will you consider activating an emergency plan?
  • What actions will you take in the event of an emergency? For example, situations when you would call on an emergency contact to assist in evaluating the patient’s safety, transport the patient, or have someone call 911 from the patient’s current location.
  • What will you do if they miss an appointment and you think they might be in a crisis?
Last updated: November 2, 2020