Beyond the Bedside: Strengthening Patient-Physician Bonds Through Virtual Care

Beyond the Bedside: Strengthening Patient-Physician Bonds Through Virtual Care
Beyond the Bedside: Strengthening Patient-Physician Bonds Through Virtual Care

The notion of “bedside manner” has long been and still is a key consideration in healthcare. Today, with mounting pressures from administrative burdens and ongoing doctor shortages, it’s difficult for physicians to find the time to truly connect with their patients. Patients suffer from this lack of attention and relationship formation: they want and need time to share their feelings, get answers, and fully understand their doctor’s guidance.

Delivering personal care virtually

Education, support, and ongoing communication “at the bedside” informs doctors and empowers patients to make better decisions throughout their health journey. In a consumer survey, 87% of respondents indicated they were satisfied with their virtual appointment and would choose virtual care (over in-person care) if it provided greater quality time with the physician. Eighty percent reported seeing a specialist in the prior 24 months.

The physician-patient relationship is particularly important in specialty care, since specialty care often requires both immediate attention and long-term follow-up. Patients needing specialty care typically want a relationship where the specialist deeply understands their condition—and where they can empirically trust the guidance of the specialist.

Today, virtual care focused on access to specialists delivers on the bedside comforts of in-person care and offers several additional advantages that can build an even stronger relationship between specialist and patient:

  • Good “webside” (bedside) manner. Today’s in-person visits average about 15 minutes, but virtual meetings with specialists can last nearly an hour— and this additional time builds rapport and instills confidence in patients. Specialists have the time to connect and care for patients on a personal level, and patients leave the appointment with answers, education, guidance, and the confidence they need to make better, more informed decisions.
  • Focused, private appointments. In a virtual appointment, there are no distractions of a medical office: no voices in the hallway, no beeping instruments, and no intercom announcements. Specialists can focus on listening, asking thoughtful questions, and sharing medical expertise with depth and nuance. Patients can participate from a comfortable and private location of their choosing, allowing them to share details and discuss options at length.
  • Cultural competence and greater opportunities for concordant care. Virtual specialty care networks transcend the limits of geography, making it possible to match patients to doctors experienced with a specific gender, lifestyle, language, ethnicity, or cultural tradition—and eliminating barriers that can impede care. This feeling of belonging supports personalized, inclusive care.
  • Fast access and ongoing support. With fast access—in days or even hours—specialists are available when patients really need them. For people living with chronic or complex conditions like cancer, high blood pressure, sciatica, or long Covid, virtual specialty care offers easy follow-up and continuity of care.

Virtual access to high quality specialists means a strong human connection

While some people question how virtual care can be effective without physical touch, it is clear that in-person appointments are not frequently delivering on developing a comprehensive understanding of a patient’s need and holistic health. Trusting relationships are at the center of quality care. Building on the convenience and satisfaction of virtual primary care, virtual specialty care excels in providing the time, comfort, care, and understanding that patients desire.

Photo: elenabs, Getty Images

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