Telepresence Robots for Telepractice and Telehealth

by | Jul 2, 2021 | Content

Telepresence Robots for Telepractice and Telehealth

Telepresence robots for telepractice can be used in a variety of healthcare settings such as hospitals, assisted living centers, and in-office visits to interact with patients. They are an effective way to connect patients to specialists and other providers who may not be readily accessible due to geography, scheduling or other limitations. 

The content in this article was created by the University of New Hampshire Telehealth Practice Center, an interdisciplinary center that connects education, research, and service across health-related disciplines, both within and beyond the University of New Hampshire. Written by Sara Robinson, Lauryn Frost, Molly Umana and Marguerite Corvini. Produced by Marguerite Corvini and Olivia Skaltsis. Patient played by Molly Umana and nurse practitioners played by Lauryn Frost and Sara Robinson. 

This first video gives a quick overview of telepractice and shows different ways to utilize the modality.

Initial Patient Consult

This second video features an initial consultation of a patient in need of additional psychiatric care, and shows how best to introduce the patient to a visit with a specialist via telehealth. 

Basic Tips for Rapport Building 

  • Always assess for self-harm or suicidal/homicidal ideation
  • Establish rapport with your patient by using open-ended questions, eye contact, active listing, and validation.

Making a Referral to a Specialist via Telepractice

  • Determine the best time to introduce a specialist via telepractice
  • Engage your patient in a shared decision-making process
  • Explain the process of engaging the patient in a telepractice with a specialist

Conducting a Warm Handoff to a Specialist via Telepractice

This video highlights the use of a telepresence robot to conduct a warm handoff to a health care provider via telehealth.

    Steps of a warm handoff include:

    • Provide patient’s background to specialist
    • Share past history and medication trials
    • Review current medications
    • Discuss assessment for safety: risk of self-harm or suicidal/homicidal ideation
    • Describe other relevant medical history or treatments
    • Warm hand-off
      • When introducing new technology, make sure the patient feels comfortable with the form of telepractice before handing them off to the specialist
      • Emphasize the shared decision-making process that you are all engaging in as a team

    Conducting a Telepsych Visit

    This video features a telepsych visit with use of a telepresence robot and highlights some best practices for working with patients via telehealth.

    Establish rapport and convey empathy

    • Asking their preferred name
    • Orienting to the visit
    • Explaining the purpose
    • Asking what they would like the outcome to be

    Obtain history of prior psychiatric medication trials and responses

    • Understand history of symptoms
    • Assess patient stressors and supports
    • Conduct relevant psychiatric review of symptoms

    Concluding the Visit

    Before ending the visit:

    • See if the patient has questions or additional information to provide
    • Validate and thank the patient for participating
    • Summarize the plan
    • Ask if there are questions before signing off.

    Telepractice Etiquette Tips

    Telepractice has its own rules of etiquette. Using the right technique to deliver care will help the individual feel at ease and more comfortable during the visit. Try these strategies for delivering telepractice visits. Be as professional, person-centered and clinically useful as you are in an in-person visit. 

    Communication

    • Interact as you would during a face-to-face visit
    • Maintain a person-centered focus and communication technique
    • Establish rapport, active listing and empathy

    Gaze and framing

    • Position the camera and microphone appropriately
    • Make eye contact by looking at your camera and not your screen

    Appearance

    • Use the live feedback to evaluate your appearance and environment
    • Dress professionally
    • Wear dark colors and not too much makeup to avoid being washed out

    Background

    • Make sure there is nothing distracting behind you 
    • Try not to blend into your background
    • Make sure there are no background noises
    • Protect your patient’s privacy

    About the University of New Hampshire Telehealth Practice Center

    The mission of the Practice Center is to expand access to health care and health education through an interdisciplinary approach to telehealth learning, research, and policy. Their vision is that solutions to public health challenges in New Hampshire include the utilization, exploration, and innovation of telehealth technologies and practice. For more information about and resources from the University of New Hampshire Telehealth Practice Center, click here.

    To learn more about the Ohmni Robots, telepresence robots for telepractice, click here.

    This publication is supported by the Advanced Nursing Education and Workforce Initiative, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of an award totaling $2.8 million dollars with percentage financed with nongovernmental sources. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.

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