Building Rapport Between Remote and In-Person Team Members

Building rapport between remote providers and in-person team members is crucial. While it can present a unique set of challenges, a few small adaptations can help build relationships between in-person and remote providers. Building rapport with in-person team members can increase the chances of an effective treatment plan and a timely and proper diagnosis. It can also just make everyone’s workday more enjoyable! In-person team members are often privy to patient behavior that may not be entirely obvious via video. It is important that remote providers are kept in the loop and have an understanding of any observed behavior that may be relevant to a patient’s treatment. Here are some considerations when developing a relationship between remote providers and in-person team members

Acknowledge the unique challenges of videoconferencing and provide adequate training for all parties

When implementing a program at your organization, it is important to acknowledge the strengths and challenges that come with videoconferencing. Conduct training sessions with staff and make sure they are entirely comfortable with workflows and technology. Recognize any limitations and complications that arise from the virtual setup as well as the unique assets and benefits.

Educate onsite team members on how to share non-verbal cues, behavioral and environmental

Videoconferencing can make it slightly more difficult to gauge non-verbal cues from a patient, but not impossible. Onsite team members can be enormously helpful in making sure that remote providers are aware of any non-verbal cues, particularly in the waiting room or during rounding. Paying close attention to facial cues, posture, animation, gestures and listening carefully to each patient can further improve telepsychiatry sessions for both parties.

Encourage onsite team members to share information about their community

A community’s culture can have a huge impact on a patient population’s view of and comfort with technology and the idea of telebehavioral health. Cultural sensitivity applies to race, gender, age, sexual orientation, income level and geographical area and it is important for onsite team members to converse with remote providers to educate them on the nuances of their community and patient population. This can also help increase facilitate relationship building between the onsite team and remote providers.

Be friendly and empathetic in your interactions with team members, remote or onsite

It is important for remote provider to be understanding of the workload and stress involved with working onsite. Onsite team members may be frazzled, overworked and busy with other obligations. Extending a helping hand or just engaging in friendly conversation can help build rapport and increase goodwill. Try to learn birthdays and take time between sessions to chat just like you would in-person.

Keep your remote provider in the loop

We all know that sometimes out of sight can mean out of mind. Add your remote providers to email listservs, invite them to team meetings and make an overall effort to keep them up to date on changes in processes, organizational updates or other team news.