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Communicating in a Healthcare Setting During COVID-19

This guide is intended to help patients, loved ones, and practitioners understand how to communicate through phone, facetime, and other virtual and online environments. This is especially pertinent during restricted access and visitation due to COVID-19.

Telemedicine in the Time of Coronavirus

Quick Tips

Talking to patients and families via phone and devices is the new normal, here are some tips to help you with this new form of communication.

  • Take a minute for yourself to pause before making contact
  • Ask questions to make sure the person on the phone can hear you and that you aren't speaking too quickly
  • Introduce yourself and say how much time you have
  • Ask if they would like to take notes and give them time to get necessary materials
  • Ask them to help set the agenda
  • Give the call your full attention
  • Be clear about the plan (including what will happen after you hang up)

Showing Empathy and Compassion

Icon of a hand with heart in itCompassion and empathy are important during tough times. Remember:

  • Empathy is feeling
  • Compassion is the action

In discussions with family, loved ones, and patients you can be an active, mindful, and compassionate listener to help with the communication

Teaching Over the Phone

Teach back is vital. Using teach back is the best way to know if the patient understood when you can’t see visual cues that indicate their understanding.

The core of teach back is:

  • Take responsibility for the information you shared
  • Ask the person to tell you, in their own words, what they will do or understand
  • Be explicit about what you want the family or patient to say back to you

During this time you also want to proactively reach out to family members. You can use phones, Facetime, Skype, or Zoom to help share information with family members.

Connecting Patients with Loved Ones

Take a look at this post from Adela Wu at Stanford Medicine for her thoughts on how to help patients connect with loved ones when they can't have visitors.

Services for Indigenous Patients at UNMH