Telehealth Best Practices: Enhancing “Webside” Manner

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Telehealth Best Practices: Enhancing “Webside” Manner

Best Practices for Telehealth Webside Manner

Staying safe during the COVID-19 pandemic continues to increase the use of telehealth among healthcare professionals. 75% of individuals in the U.S. who have behavioral health conditions are continuing therapy services during COVID-19. Additionally, virtual care has increased 1.6x since the summer of 2019.  And telehealth is here to stay. Convenience, access beyond clinical hours, and increased continuity of care are just a few of the key benefits in providing telehealth. With such an increase, we pulled together a list of best practices when conducting a telehealth appointment. Just as physicians focus on bedside manner during an in-person interaction, telehealth encounters have a proper “webside” manner.

Why is “Webside” Manner Important?

“Webside” manner is just as important as a regular bedside manner during client appointments. Webside manner is similar to bedside manner. It’s the way clinicians interact with patients during an appointment.

Studies show positive provider-patient relationships matter. When providers receive training in empathy, eye-contact, and other relationship-building strategies, health outcomes often improve. In other words, there are no negative side effects when you focus on maintaining a positive relationship with clients. Building a good rapport is crucial to providing meaningful care. So, how can you enhance your telehealth experience?

Best Practices for a Telehealth Encounter

Before the Appointment

If you are new to telehealth, we recommend practicing before your first client encounter. Even if you are experienced in telehealth, best practices are important reminders before each appointment. Here are a few items to consider:

  • Have the correct equipment – Having a reliable computer or laptop with video functionality will be best for telehealth. Devices often perform best when plugged into a power source. Consider investing in a headset and a USB camera if your current technology isn’t up to par.
  • Test your internet connection – Nothing can interfere with a patient encounter more than having poor communication. During a virtual appointment, internet connection can interfere with communication. Continually test your connectivity to ensure you provide the highest quality care. Placing the router close to your office helps improve wireless connections. If you can’t do that, consider getting a wireless range enhancer to boost your wifi signal. 
  • Physical space – When using video for telehealth, physical space determines whether a client can see you clearly. Proper lighting, for example, affects how well a client can see you. You may also consider a physical space that isn’t prone to unexpected sounds (from kids, pets, etc.). Additionally, make sure you are comfortable in the space before the appointment begins. Being intentional about your physical space decreases possible distractions.
  • Practice – Grab a colleague to practice with. Set the stage just as you will during your appointments. Ask for feedback on how your space looks, whether the connection seems to be working properly, etc. For instance, a colleague may be able to comment on what the patient experience is like when logging into the telehealth appointment. Practice provides further confidence in using telehealth, which may be a new concept to you or your client.  
  • Have a back-up plan – It is no secret that technology can provide unexpected roadblocks. Whether it be a client’s internet giving out or a device losing power, know your backup plan. A backup plan may look like calling your patient instead of using video. Luckily telehealth compliance and reimbursement are flexible when issues do occur (some rules have become more relaxed during COVID-19). Your agency may provide you with a specific backup plan when things do not go as expected. Know the recommended procedure so you are prepared when challenges arise. 

During the Appointment

It’s time for a telehealth appointment! After proper preparation, remember virtual communication best practices. Consider these tips:

  • Focus on the camera to mimic eye contact.
  • Be aware of body language.
  • Stay seated when possible.
  • Avoid distractions. This tip may seem obvious, but taping or fidgeting is often more distracting on video than in person.
  • Be clear. Clarity on a virtual platform is critically important. For instance, ask clients if they can hear you okay. Ask clients if they need any clarification or have questions during each encounter. Being clear may seem like a simple communication practice, but double-checking your clients’ understanding is better than assuming they heard everything.

Your Reliable Solution

With telehealth on the rise, you need a reliable solution to continue providing meaningful care to your clients. That’s why Patagonia Health has developed an integrated telehealth solution. Our telehealth app allows users to easily integrate video appointments into their workflow. The solution is both secure and very easy to use. Interested in learning more? Contact us today. 


Vaccine Inventory App is Enhanced

Vaccine Inventory App Includes Multi-dose and Multi-vial Options

Patagonia Health announces system updates to their Electronic Health Record (EHR) system’s Vaccine Inventory App. In addition to the multi-dose vial option, users may now add a multi-vial dose into inventory.

This option is selected for products that may be billed for more than one unit, such as immunoglobulin.

Distinctions between Multi-dose and Multi-vial

Multi-dose vial – The actual mount administered is entered at administration. The system then calculates the units from the amount administered, divided by the dosage/unit. The calculated unites are then adjusted within the inventory.

Multi-vial dose – The units calculated for the dispense count referenced above are also used as billing units when using the Update Immunization Orders option in the Orders section of the Encounter Note.

Benefits of the Vaccine Inventory App Enhancement

This added flexibility enhances both accuracy in vaccine inventory assessment/counts and accuracy in billing. User requests drive feature development, making Patagonia Health’s EHR solution more robust for all users. Following user-centered design principles and agile development methodologies, we release software updates every six weeks. We are committed to maximizing our web-based platform to be the best readily-expandable and responsive electronic health record software on the market.

In the Aftermath of Hurricanes, Your Choice of EHR Matters

Hurricane satellite image

Names have meaning.  Names have value and communicate more than the syllables pronounced.  In the face of the weather which has pummeled the United States this past month, now these names have meaning:  Harvey.  Irma. Maria. And most recently, Nate.

Per the AMA “Morning Rounds” web news of October 5, 2017, “Damage from Hurricane Maria could lead to drug shortages, federal officials say.”   Having access to real-time inventory at your clinic via a strong and functioning EHR could make all the difference in the world in how your facilities and staff are able to respond in the face of an emergency.  Additionally, individuals who are displaced due to weather will have the impact of the storm on their lives greatly minimized if they have been being served by a clinic with a connected EHR system.

Thus:  Whether or not the disaster directly impacts your region, access to a connected and capable EHR matters.  As the article referenced above details, “there are over 80 plants on Puerto Rico that manufacture pharmaceuticals or medical devices, but . . . manufacturers are facing many problems including unreliable electricity, transportation issues, and so on.”  Your region does not have to sustain a “direct hit” for your AGENCY to sustain a direct hit from a hurricane.

If your local health department has wisely prepared and has already implemented a capable and progressive EHR, then riding out a storm and its after effects becomes an easier proposition for all parties involved.  One practical example: with an EHR, your staff is equipped to deliver uninterrupted services to your clients by maintaining a strong pharmacy or immunization inventory.

So – what’s the name of your EHR?  It matters.  Your EHR should be able to have you real-time prepared both in the face of an impending large-scale emergency, and in its aftermath.  Select an EHR that will be by your side – in preparedness and in secured strength.  Go ahead:  face and weather the storm.  A strong EHR has your back.

Using EHR Data to Improve Population Health

EHR data Population Health

Without data, managing the health of the communities would be near impossible for local health departments.  It also is, of course, an obvious fact that electronic health records are a key source of health data and can provide some greatly needed elements for analysis of population health.

By combining EHR data with a visualization tool, such as GIS health mapping system, health departments can quickly and easily assess the health status of their communities. This information could also be incorporated within their community health needs assessment to improve population health performance.

With de-identified health data, extracted from the EHR software, public health departments can better monitor and control the severity of outbreaks, the triggers of health issues, as well as the location of the triggers.  With this data they can also understand the risk profiles of the communities and identify at-risk community members.

Managing population health has become a top priority in the ever changing healthcare landscape.  This focus has also become a main driver that influences public health departments and other healthcare agencies, such as community health centers and FQHCs, to transition to a new EHR system that will better accommodate the needs of population health management and improvements for the future.


The 6 must-haves for an easy to use EHR for Local Health Departments.

With the federal mandate for adoption of an Electronic Health Record (EHR), one has no choice but to move to an EHR. All medical practices must move to meaningful use compliance and local health departments are not exempt. We know that local health department professionals are good at what they do, but not all staff is necessarily good with computers. In addition to being federally certified, the number one requirement is to make sure that the EHR you chose is easy to use. Practically speaking, how do you know an EHR is easy to use?


If you’re not already using an EHR system that improves your department workflow and are looking for better options, consider these six points when you are conducting a search for an EHR.


  1. Is the EHR Easy to install and administer? A lot of health departments do not have big budgets to install expensive servers. Additionally, even large departments do not have dedicated IT staff to manage and administer a server-based system. So, make sure the EHR is a web-based EHR. This means that your users only need a desktop or laptop computer and basic internet connection (no VPN) to use the EHR.
  2. Is the EHR Simple for users to use? Most medical clinic staff are good at what they do but are not necessarily computers savvy. So, you want to make sure that EHR screens are not cluttered with too much non-essential information. For example, can each user personalize their screens so that they only see what they need to see? Similarly, each user needs to go to only 2 or 3 screens to do their job. With too many tabs to navigate in an EHR, nurses can easily get lost and not be able to focus on patients.
  3. Is the EHR Intuitive so users can learn quickly? Most public health professionals are not trained computer gurus. However, these days a majority of your staff, in their personal lives, are on the web (e.g. going to Amazon or Facebook) and using smart phones and apps (like Candy Crush). So, if the EHR system uses familiar web prompts and patterns, they can learn quickly and easily. On the other hand if the EHR is from 1980s or 1990s (before internet), it will be difficult to learn. Ideally, the EHR should be intuitive (web based and with apps).
  4. Is the EHR Intelligent and eliminates dual data entry? If you are a local health department, your staff is probably entering identical data in multiple systems and on paper. This, of course, increases workload and, worse still, reports are never easy to get. If the EHR can auto-populate data fields, it can provide a complete view of a patient and comprehensive (unduplicated) reports.
  5. Is the EHR Sophisticated and yet simple to use? Modern technology can be easy to use and yet provide very sophisticated functionality. For example, Google™ learns each user’s behavior and offers favorites. The more you use Google™, the more it remembers previous and common commands and options. We all know nurses hate to type the same thing over and over again. Does your EHR have Google™-like Auto Learn and Auto Suggest technology? Such technology will allow clinical staff to dramatically cut down typing (e.g. of allergies, medication, frequently seen symptoms etc.).
  6. Is the system Purpose-built for your local health department? For public health this matters. A lot. Since all public health departments rely on state and federal funding, they have to play by the rules. Your EHR system should incorporate all the programs (e.g. immunization, communicable diseases, child health, family planning etc.), scheduling flexibility you need, numerous sliding fee scales, and state and federal reports. To avoid having to spend lots of time customizing your EHR and workarounds, make sure the EHR works out of the box to meet your needs and is not a DIY EHR nightmare. The EHR should evenly incorporate with daily work-flow, and it should connect with other providers including health information exchanges, immunization registries and syndromic surveillance systems. Given that funding is very tight in local health departments, make sure the EHR you get is federally certified and you get CMS EHR incentive $s to help offset the cost of a new EHR. In other words, it should work for you specifically, according to your needs.


To make sure that your staff will use the EHR, make sure it is easy to use. If it is too cumbersome, the staff will not use it. Having fancy bells and whistles in a system is not what you need. What you need is a practical system that works for you with all the public health bells and whistles!