5 Telehealth Best Practices

Authority Magazine interviewed Pacify Chief Clinical Officer Melanie Silverman about best practices in telehealth, and how to provide high-quality breastfeeding and nutrition support without an in-person visit. You can read the entire interview here, but we wanted to share Melanie’s top five best practices for a successful virtual visit. 

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  1. Work the Camera — In a virtual environment, it’s especially important for caregivers to appear friendly, caring and ready to help. There are a couple of good ways to compensate for the fact that screens can flatten interactions. First, use hand gestures and be expressive. Second, props like dolls or spoons are ideal because you can demonstrate the correct positioning in breastfeeding or how to introduce solid foods.

  2. Be Ready to Offer Immediate Emotional Support — When parents call Pacify, they are struggling and frequently start to cry at the beginning of the conversation. It’s important for healthcare professionals in the telemedicine space to be emotionally prepared to drop in on a difficult moment. Many mothers who have trouble breastfeeding say they feel like they are failing — we must help them realize they are not! Helping them cope with the emotional stress of the situation can ensure they are able to listen and comply with recommendations.

  3. Listen First — One of the main frustrations for new parents breastfeeding is that they don’t feel heard. It’s imperative to listen to their entire story before offering any advice. Once they are done with their story, acknowledge that their journey has been challenging and you are here to help. At Pacify, we make sure to support new parents regardless of their feeding questions or choices. We are not in the business of making any parents feel guilty. Instead, we work to meet them where they are and help with a variety of feeding issues or questions besides breastfeeding.

  4. Prompt Other Questions — Patients using telehealth services may be nervous to ask follow-up questions because they may perceive they are taking up too much time. Prompting callers about other potential issues is an important step to give complete care.

    We actually encourage our lactation consultants to stay on the call as long as the parent needs. Our lactation consultants may ask if parents are going back to work soon or if they have questions about storing breast milk. They also check in about sleep and diet issues too. Our lactation consultants are always on the lookout for postpartum depression among new parents, and if we suspect there is an issue, we will help them locate the help they need.

  5. Recognize an Emergency — Any healthcare professional working in telemedicine must recognize its limits in two ways. First, it’s crucial to know when the patient has reached the limit of what is possible to deliver via telehealth. Second, providers must recognize emergencies and advise the patient to dial 911. Telehealth providers are the first line of care — and can often solve the problem, and avoid prohibitive costs — but they must be able to recognize an emergency when they see one.

 

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