With the growing popularity of remote patient care, telehealth training may be the new frontier. As more provider deliver care using telehealth, they need to learn how to reframe their patient-provider communication skills to drive patient satisfaction with the tool.

As of 2017, nearly three-quarters (71 percent) of providers were using telehealth, according to statistics from HIMSS Analytics. Using telehealth has helped heal some of healthcare’s greatest ills by delivering before-school care to children or helping busy moms or bringing care to seriously underserved rural areas.

But with telehealth comes numerous challenges, not least of which include creating a positive patient experience. With a computer screen separating the patient and provider, key elements of the patient-provider relationship often get lost in translation.  Healthcare organizations are looking to address that problem by creating telehealth training programs.

Telehealth training isn’t exactly a new concept. As the technology came onto the scene, it was natural that medical professionals would undergo some sort of education about the technology. At the national forefront of these efforts has been the National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculty (NONPF), which has most recently called on medical schools and nurse practitioner graduate programs to create telehealth curricula for their students, such as the University of San Diego.

Medical schools and nurse practitioner graduate programs should offer specialty track in healthcare informatics that encompasses remote patient monitoring, telemedicine, and telenursing care. The training should include key elements that leads to high patient satisfaction, such as physical appearance on camera. Digital environment is just as important to patient satisfaction as the hospital environment.

Patient interaction training is also important. A positive patient-provider relationship is crucial to any care visit, but driving positive interactions might look a little different via telehealth. For example, telehealth visits may not be any longer than ten to fifteen minutes. People need to maintain “eye contact” and not look down on the screen as much. Such techniques can be learned in the training course.

As one of the Program Director of the schools implementing such telehealth training course in the University of San Diego, Jonathan Mack, said “Telehealth isn’t future technology, it’s here. It’s already being used by health agencies across the United States and it’s expanding rapidly,” he concluded.” In a few years, we’ll think of telehealth as part of what we do in normal care, not something that’s new and emerging as we do today.”