Telemedicine: Brush up on your screen-side manners

1 August 2020 By Louisa Beckett
DigiGone's ECG at work
DigiGone's ECG at work
Courtesy of DigiGone
Louisa Beckett

Louisa Beckett is the former editor of Motor Boating, ShowBoats International, and Southern Boating magazines, and a longtime contributor to Dockwalk. Over her career, she has written about a wide variety of vessels ranging from Sea-Doos to superyachts, and has had many adventures on the water, including riding in a U.S. Coast Guard “rollover” boat in heavy surf off Cape Disappointment, Washington.

”Face-to-face video with a doctor can reduce a patient’s stress level and enhance the communication,” says Michael Dunleavy, president of telemedicine provider DigiGone, which includes a camera-enabled tablet in its digiMed Five Plus kit for yachts in order to facilitate video consultation with its medical team. However, it’s important for crew who may be participating in such a video consultation from on board the yacht to practice what he calls their “screen-side manners” first.

“You’re on the phone [using FaceTime]; now you’re looking at the ceiling; next thing you know, you’re looking at the floor…. You have to make sure you’re holding the camera [correctly]…,” he says, adding, “In an emergency situation, a lot of time, people are already irritated. You don’t want to exacerbate the situation even more by asking them to repeat themselves.”

Another way that crew can make a patient feel more comfortable is to ensure their privacy during the consultation. “You’ve got to be concerned about privacy for the patient… [when] you’re using a telemedicine kit in the dining room of the yacht,” Dunleavy says.

DigiGone recently sought guidance from Dr. Carrie L. Morris, an oculofacial plastic surgeon in Southlake, Texas, who is highly experienced in conducting remote video consultations with patients, about telemedicine best practices for medical providers. Yacht crew also can learn from the following tips:

  1. Prep Your Space. Make sure the lighting in the room is good; don’t sit in front of a bright window because the other person won’t be able to see your [or the patient’s] face. You don’t want to be too close or too far away from the camera; arm’s length is a good guide. If you’re using your cellular phone, invest in a small tripod to provide stability. Position your phone at eye level, just as if you’re talking to someone in person.
  2. Make Eye Contact. Try to make sure the patient feels at ease and is comfortable before the consultation begins. When it does, look at your screen or camera — not at your own video — and make eye contact with the other person.
  3. Email Photos. Dr. Morris says that sometimes she’s not able to get a good look at something through the video screen, so she’ll have patients email her close-up photos. “You want to make everything as easy and confidential as possible,” Dunleavy says.

This article originally appeared in the August 2020 issue of Dockwalk.


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