Telemedicine visits are an opportunity to hone our listening skills, thus improving the care of our patients.
In training we’re taught that 80% of the diagnosis comes from our patient’s history. We’re also taught to listen to our patient to learn what’s wrong. Unfortunately, in many patient interactions, patients are interrupted early in the history portion of the encounter.
Evolving communications with patients
For many of us the televisits due to the pandemic have been a hard transition in giving care. We may miss the human connection of placing our hands to offer reassurance to our patients. Now, televisits have pushed us to evolve in our communications.
Here’s what I’ve found—in this time of physical separation from my patients and communication through a computer screen, I SEE them. Unspoken communication I may have previously missed because now I’m not multitasking while typing and putting in orders. I can listen more closely. I do miss a Lachman and O’brian mauver, but I’m finally learning how important listening is. It’s definitely a challenge, but it’s also a chance to circle back to our training. It’s a chance to hone our listening and communication skills.
An unexpected gift
I realize I’ve been given this unexpected gift to connect to my patients in this time we’re all physically separated. A chance to check in with a patient who may feel isolated. Televisits allow us to touch base and let patients know another person cares about them. This is especially important when many of us are also feeling the pain of being alone.
Televisits are a challenging transition, but let’s seize opportunity and gift that has been bestowed on us during these unique times. And, when we find ourselves working again in a bustling clinic with a full day of patient appointments, let’s remember to keep listening.