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Building Trust and Relationships in Telehealth Visits for OpenTelemed

Trust is the cornerstone of a strong patient-provider relationship, and it’s even more crucial in the virtual setting of telehealth. Building trust leads to better communication, patient engagement, and ultimately, improved health outcomes. This guide provides strategies for healthcare providers to cultivate trust and build genuine connections with patients during telehealth visits, whether it’s a one-time consultation or ongoing care.

Before the Visit:

  • First Impressions Matter: Dress professionally to set a positive tone and build trust.
  • Professional Environment: Choose a clean, clutter-free space with minimal distractions. Center yourself in the frame for optimal engagement.
  • Tech Check: Test your equipment beforehand to avoid technical glitches during the visit. Ensure stable internet connection, clear camera and microphone audio, and appropriate lighting.
  • Minimize Disruptions: Reduce background noise, silence alerts, and inform patients if any delays are expected.
  • Digital Support: Train staff to assist patients with the technology platform and answer questions beforehand. Provide informative materials about telehealth and FAQs. Encourage patients to review troubleshooting tips.

During the First Visit:

  • Warm Welcome: Introduce yourself and explain how the technology works. Reassure patients about your experience with telehealth and data privacy.
  • Breaking the Ice: Engage in friendly conversation to put patients at ease and facilitate communication.
  • Active Listening: Ask open-ended questions, confirm key details, and utilize effective communication techniques like motivational interviewing and teach-back methods.
  • Empathy Matters: Express understanding and compassion through verbal and nonverbal cues like nodding and affirmative comments.

Throughout the Visit and Ongoing Care:

  • Full Attention: Dedicate your full focus to the patient, maintain eye contact (through the camera), and avoid crossing your arms or appearing closed off.
  • Cultural Competency: Acknowledge and respect cultural differences. Use inclusive language and adapt your communication style based on individual preferences.
  • Accessibility for All: Identify and address any patient needs for language translation, disability accommodations, or specific care considerations.

After the Visit:

Reflection and Improvement: Analyze each visit to identify areas for improvement. Consider questions like: What worked well? What challenges arose? Is telehealth a suitable option for this patient?

Additional Resources:

OpenTelemed provides further guidance on specific topics like:

  • Planning your telehealth workflow
  • Providing care to patients with limited English proficiency (LEP)
  • Telehealth for people with disabilities
  • Cultural competency in telehealth
  • Serving underserved communities through telehealth

By implementing these strategies and utilizing OpenTelemed’s resources, healthcare providers can foster trust and build strong relationships with their patients, paving the way for successful and satisfying telehealth experiences.

After the visit

After each visit, take time to consider what you could change or do to improve your engagement with the patient. Questions to ask:

  • What went well or did not go well?
  • Were there specific challenges? How can you prevent or minimize them?
  • Is this patient a good candidate for telehealth? What are the risks vs. benefits of having the patient come in for an in-person visit?

More information

Resources to share with patients