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Preparing patients for telehealth

Getting patients set up with new technology

Helping your patients get set up to 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 They may also have other challenges due to older computers, out-of-date software, and low-bandwidth.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.

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?
  • If the appointment will use video, will the patient have an internet connection with enough bandwidth?
  • Be able to do the appointment from somewhere with secure internet (home, work, another location)? Will the patient be using public wifi and therefore need to understand how your telehealth platform handles security?
  • If your telehealth platform requires it, does your patient have an email account? If not, do they need help setting one up?

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 exit disclaimer icon 
  • Many fast food restaurants have free wifi 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)
  • Give a tour of only the 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
  • Explain how you will share the actual appointment invitation or show 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
  • 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)
  • 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.

Last updated: November 2, 2020