Table 2

A Partial List of Ways to Invest in Relationship During Telehealth Encounters (That We Realized Might be Widely Applicable During Many Kinds of Visits)

Respecting patient’s need for easy access
Multimodal methods of communication
Respecting my need for easy access—timing
Starting where people are
Considering cost and patient’s ability to pay
Virtual presence-focused attention even if physically remote
Offer options to customize communication, such as being seen or just hearing
Look for ways to help the patient feel understood and heard, such as summarizing
Listening carefully to the patient’s experience
Bringing any available background knowledge of the specific patient situation
Questions that are on point, appropriate to the situation and visit type
Getting to what is important
Showing expertise, getting to the bottom of things builds trust
Showing a receptive, not rushed, tone
Providing contingency plans and options relevant to the patient’s situation
Offering non-medical treatment options (eg, food, activities)
Treating the patient as an individual, not just working through a protocol
Asking for context
Asking open-ended questions
Feeling empathy
Attending to emotions
Not blaming
Offer multiple treatment options, things to try, and a path forward
Offering hope
Find something the patient has done right and praising it
Explaining in easy language
Asking, “Is there anything else?”
Finding out why this matters to me now and how
Normalizing the patient’s experience when possible
Working to get on the same page—doctor and patient
Taking what we can learn from good call-centers and customer service industries
Systems that empower the clinician and patient with time and a full range of options
Power sharing. Being non-judgmental
Explicitly acknowledging time limitations and then prioritizing based on attending to both what the patient feels is important and what is important from a biopsychosocial perspective
Tying it together for the person—being understood
Working to get to a shared goal
If both patient and clinician feel connection after the visit, they bring something positive to the next encounter—building a community of expectations