U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Getting patients set up with telehealth technology

Helping your patients use telehealth can go a long way towards putting them at ease and preparing them for a successful appointment.

Every patient has different skills and comfort levels with technology. They may also have other challenges due to older computers, out-of-date software, and low-bandwidth. What you need to review with each patient will vary depending on their situation.

Provide written instructions that go through the entire process, step-by-step. Make this information available in different languages for patients with limited English proficiency.

Tip: Reduce troubleshooting time and patient frustration by having a telehealth coordinator, nurse, administrative staff, or community health worker walk each patient through the process directly.

Find out about the patient’s available technology

Will your patient:

  • Have a computer, tablet, or mobile device with camera and microphone that will work with your telehealth platform?
  • Have an internet connection with enough bandwidth for video (if required for the appointment)?
  • Be able to do the appointment from somewhere with secure internet (home, work, another location)? Will the patient be using public Wi-Fi and therefore need to understand how your telehealth platform handles security?
  • Need help setting up an email account (if your telehealth platform requires it)?

Supporting patients who don’t have internet or phone services

One of the biggest barriers that prevent patients from doing telehealth is a lack of access to internet service with enough bandwidth for video.

  • They may qualify for federal support through the Lifeline program
  • Many fast food restaurants have free Wi-Fi that reaches the parking lot
  • Most public libraries provide access to high-speed internet (and often private rooms)

Walk your patient through the setup process

Provide the following to your patients as written step-by-step instructions or through direct support.

  • How to install necessary telehealth software (if needed for your telehealth platform)
  • How to update their browser application and make sure any necessary plugins aren’t being blocked (if needed for your telehealth platform)
  • How to open the telehealth platform
  • How to check that the camera and audio is working (the first time you open it, it may prompt you to enable the web camera and audio)
  • Which software features your patient will need for their appointment (so you don’t overwhelm them with too many things at once)
  • How to find the telehealth app again or set up a shortcut/bookmark
  • How you will share the actual appointment invitation and what it will look like

Tip: If possible, have someone from your team simulate a brief practice appointment so your patient can walk through each step from beginning to end.

Provide patients with troubleshooting information

Patients will feel more at ease if they know what to do if something goes wrong. Here are common troubleshooting tips to share with your patients.

  • Restart the computer or device
  • Make sure the device is plugged in or charged
  • Check that the internet connection is working and is strong enough to work with your telehealth platform
  • Close all other applications
  • Update their browser (if the telehealth platform is web-based)
  • Try connecting with a different device
  • Give contact information for who can provide help if needed

Tip: Most telehealth platforms look different on PC/Mac or desktop/mobile. If yours does, make sure to create separate instructions for each.

Keep patients informed about changes

If your telehealth platform gets updated, make sure you inform your existing patients of the change and any actions they need to take to be ready for their appointment.

More information:

Basic Video Troubleshooting Guide — National Technology Telehealth Resource Center