Connecting with Your Patients from a Distance

doctor typing on a laptop

Some of the best experiences I’ve had as a patient occurred when I felt a connection to my physician. I have carried these experiences into my own life, both professionally and personally.”  

– Sandra Lauriat, M.D.

As a physician at this time in history, how can we still connect with our patients when we are relegated to using a video platform for office visits and dialysis rounds?`

First, remember that our patients are feeling stressed, just like us. The fact that you are willing to take time to assess and reassure your patients will decrease their stress.

Tips for Using Telemedicine

For those of you who are new to telehealth, it’s OK if the screen freezes or the audio stops. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Your willingness is what matters to your patients. Consider some of these tips: 

  1. Before the visit, take a moment to review the chart and make some notes about key points to cover. Having an agenda will help the visit go more smoothly. However, don’t plan for every moment so that you have enough time to cover what’s important to your patient.
  2. Be aware that you are glimpsing into the private life of your patient, so be careful of any comments that may make your patient feel judged. No one will “dress up” for your telehealth visit like they might for a regular office visit.
  3. Pay attention to their surroundings and know that “others” may be listening to your conversation. If a sensitive subject emerges, it’s best to ask permission to discuss the topic at that particular time.
  4. Silence can be very uncomfortable, but it’s during those pauses that patients are processing the information you’ve given them. Don’t rush the process. Stay supportive through non-verbal communication, such as direct eye contact or nodding. 
  5. Know that emotions are heightened at this uncertain time. To help validate your patients’ emotions, try simple repetition of what you hear using the patient’s own words. For example, “If I understand correctly, you are feeling lonely and abandoned at this time.”  Acknowledging that these emotions are normal will help validate them.
  6. In addition, know that underlying mental health issues can worsen significantly during this time. Patients with a well-controlled mental illness may become significantly impaired, especially patients with OCD, anxiety and depression. 

Share Your Experience with Us

Connecting remotely can not only be beneficial to your patients but can also improve your practice at this difficult time. Try some of the tips and let us know how you are doing. Email us at

Want more tips on patient education including information on COVID-19? View our videos and downloadable flyers.

Raenali Publications® is a leading provider of innovative, physician-directed patient education in the field of nephrology.

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