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How to Elevate Your Presence in a Telehealth Session

Pink towers

By Joel Schwartzberg | Reviewed by Matt Slimming, PT, DPT

In a recent Harvard Business Review article, author Joel Schwartzberg explained how we can “Elevate Our Presence” in a virtual meeting. These principles can equally be applied to elevating our presence in a telehealth session with a patient.

FOCUS ON THE CAMERA, NOT ON YOUR COLLEAGUES (OR PHYSICAL SURROUNDINGS).

Direct eye contact is a vital way to gain the patient’s confidence. In telehealth, this means continuously looking into the video camera, not at others in the office or other distractions.

MAINTAIN A STRONG VOICE.

A strong voice conveys authority, credibility, and confidence.

FRAME YOURSELF WISELY.

Your head and top of your shoulders should dominate the screen. Choose an environment where the background is simple and uncluttered, reflecting your professionalism.

BE PRESENT AND MINDFUL.

When a patient is performing an exercise, you may be tempted to check your email or attend to other work, but multitasking is perilous because you don’t want to be caught unprepared if asked a sudden question.

DON’T BECOME YOUR OWN DISTRACTION.

You may also be tempted to perform telehealth sessions from home, but be aware of the audible distractions that may be present. Usually, clinic-related noises are less distracting (and appear more appropriate) than those of animals, neighbors, kids, and home deliveries.

USE THE CHAT WINDOW AS YOUR PARTNER.

When you refer to an article or shared document, link to it in the chat.

We owe it to our patients to be as effective as possible in the telehealth environment. By practicing these six tips, we will become more comfortable and provide a more effective service.


Matt Slimming

Matt Slimming, PT, DPT, is founder and CEO of STAR Physical Therapy and STAR Fitness, an 8 clinic Outpatient PT Organization serving the Greater New Orleans Area. Matt can be reached at matt@starptclinics.com.