Setting up Your Space for a Patient-friendly Teledentistry Appointment

During his webinar with MouthWatch on “Patient Assessment via Synchronous Teledentistry”, Dr. Howell discussed tips for providers on how to best prepare their space for a patient assessment via synchronous teledentistry.

Here’s an audio clip from the webinar where Dr. Howell discusses his recommendations for best practices to ensure patients feel they have your full attention and their privacy is being respected during a teledentistry consultation… 

“We want to make sure our patients know that they have our full attention. We want to make sure that they know that there’s nothing else going on around us, that we’re maintaining their privacy.”

Dr. Howell, webinar

The Bullet Points

Video

  • Don’t have a door behind you. They might be wondering, “Well, who’s going to walk through that door?”
  • Don’t have windows behind you, even if there’s no light shining through them. Your patient might think, “Well, who’s going to walk by that window? Is the window open?” You want to make sure that they feel comfortable, that their privacy is going to be maintained.
  • Try to keep it very simple behind you. Maybe an office logo.
  • Make sure there’s no light behind you that would back light you in their video view.
  • Test the view from your camera. Make sure that before you meet with a patient, you know what the view is going to look like.
  • Look directly into the camera. If you’re constantly looking up like that or looking over, you know, the patient may feel that they don’t have you with them. We don’t want to lose our patients trust.
  • Have space around you in the camera view so the patient feels the setting is as realistic as possible. We wouldn’t have a conversation with the patient with our face right in their face. Even on a mobile phone, set your camera away from you. We don’t want to make the patient feel that their space is being invaded.

Audio

  • Avoid rooms that echo. It will be easier for the patient to hear you. So, that might mean avoiding rooms with lots of tile or hard flooring.
  • Close your door, avoid any noise in the background if at all possible.
  • If you’re working from home and you have family or other people in the house, make sure they know that you’re meeting with patients in order to keep noise levels down.

Further Privacy Considerations

  • Whether you are working at home right now or in an office, you need your space to be closed off in order to maintain as much patient privacy as possible.
  • If you are working at home, make sure family members know that they are not allowed in the room with you.
  • At home or office, consider putting a sign up that says “do not disturb”. You don’t want people coming and knocking on your door and the patient feeling like they don’t have your attention.
  • Make sure your patient is aware that ideally they should also be in a private location because they may be sharing personal health information that they don’t want the people around them to hear. Granted, a lot of states are shelter in place right now, so most of our patients might be in a home situation, but we want to make sure that they can protect their privacy as much as possible

the TL;DR

Even though we aren’t in the same room physically with the patient, we want to make sure our patients know that they have our attention, that you’ve given them the same level of privacy that you would give them if they were in your office.

Dr. Howell, webinar

The full patient assessment via synchronous teledentistry guide

Download the full guide for further tips on how you and the patient can have the best, most effective live teledentistry appointment:

Register to watch the full webinar

Listen to the full webinar here

About Dr. Howell

Scott Howell, DMD, MPH is Assistant Professor and Director of Teledentistry at A.T. Still University, Arizona School of Dentistry and Oral Health. He develops clinical programs, screening and imaging protocols,  and educational curriculum,  including curriculum for teledentistry applications. Dr. Howell is on the Covid-19 Advisory Response Team for MouthWatch.

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