Building Trust into Telehealth

by Alexa B. Kimball and Nick MorganMost of us wouldn’t turn to a stranger on an airplane and tell him or her about our aches and pains, our digestive issues, or our deepest fears about the future. And yet, every single day, patients see new doctors for the first time and share intimate details about their bodies and their worries with a person they may know by recommendation but have just met. It’s remarkable — and it’s a reminder of just how central trust is to the patient-physician relationship.At baseline, most patients want to trust their doctors. The Covid-19 pandemic has forced physicians to shift rapidly to virtual medicine, by both phone and video, in a way that will indelibly change the way doctors interact with patients. The key question now is: How will we be able to establish the same level of trust with our patients if we cannot meet them face to face?Four central elements create trust: competence, logic, empathy, and reliability. Moving patient consultations to the virtua...

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