Telemedicine makes the miles disappear

Cameras make it personal

When walls and miles separate people, it is difficult to maintain the intimacy of an in-person encounter. That’s one of the problems educators must overcome when educating people using interactive videoconferencing technology, Kay Ball, RN, MSA, CNO, an independent nurse consultant in Columbus, OH, who has conducted many seminars via the system. Yet it is possible to develop teaching techniques that will make you as effective an educator as if you were in the same room with the patient.

"You must have the camera set just right so you can see the nonverbal signs to determine if the patient wants to know more or you need to stop the education session," says Ball. The patient will have more trust if he or she can see you at close range as well.

Ball offers these additional tips for using interactive videoconferencing as a patient education tool:

Personalize the message.

Be sure to capture facial expressions by providing close shots rather than panoramic views. Distance can depersonalize an encounter, but camera close-ups capture facial expressions and help a health care provider’s warm and caring attitude come through.

Introduce other professionals in the room.

If someone enters the room during your education session, be sure to tell the patient that the conversation is no longer private.

Wear clothes and accessories that won’t distract the patient.

Wear subtle clothing so the patient is focusing on you, not what you are wearing.

Make sure the patient has a copy of the teaching materials.

If you are talking to a patient and referring to a pamphlet, make sure you have sent the material in advance, so the patient can follow along.