If you are a healthcare provider getting started practicing remotely, one of the first questions you may have is “what are the telehealth equipment requirements?” There are some requirements in order to provide the best care to your patients virtually.
You will need secure telehealth software to be able to provide your services to patients in a secure way. It’s important that you have telehealth software because using FaceTime of Skype to communicate with patients and conduct healthcare visits is not HIPAA-compliant and puts you at risk for major HIPAA violations.
A computer, phone or tablet
Which device you specifically need depends on what software you will be running your telehealth services on. But, you at least need a desktop computer or laptop computer, a tablet or a smartphone. These are the essential telehealth equipment requirements.
- Laptop computer: A basic laptop should be able to provide you with everything you need for your tele heath visits.
- Desktop computer: A plus of working with a desktop computer is that you will have a bigger screen to work with and see your patients. The downside is you are strapped in and won’t be able to easily pick up the computer and take it wherever you need to go.
- Tablet/Smartphone: If you are just providing light telemedicine tasks or you need to do your consults on-the-go, then a smartphone or tablet will suffice. It is a lot more challenging to take notes while conducting your telehealth visits via tablet or smartphone. Due to these limitations, we recommend using the tablet or smartphone option as a backup or supplement to your main computer.
Integrated or external microphone
Mobile devices are computers typically have built-in microphones that are sufficient to offer your consultations and appointments virtually via telehealth. If the patient’s device does not have a built-in microphone, they will need to find one so that you can communicate with them. There are a lot of cheap external microphones available on the market. Microphones are essential telehealth equipment requirements in order to communicate.
Integrated or external camera
Just as with microphones, a lot of devices these days come with integrated cameras. But, the patient may be using an older laptop or desktop computer without a camera. So, they will need to purchase a webcam in order to proceed with telehalth visits and if your device does not have a camera built in, you will need to purchase one too. Being able to visually see each other is another telehealth equipment requirements.
If your device does not have high-quality integrated speakers, you may want to invest in some headphones in order to make sure that you are accurately hearing your patient during the telehealth appointments. If you are unable to conduct your telehealth appointments in a private, quiet room or you are working remotely with other people around, you will need some headphones in order to make your appointment as secure and private as possible. Remember, even though you are seeing patients virtually, you still need to abide by HIPAA requirements and laws.
External keyboard and mouse
If you spend a long time at your computer, it’s worth the investment to purchase an external ergonomic keyboard and mouse. This is also a great idea if you are using a tablet because it will make typing and navigating a lot easier. Meeting these telehealth equipment requirements makes things more convenient for the provider.
Having a strong internet connection is a vital piece of having a successful and smooth telehealth visit with your patients. If your patient has a shaky internet connection that continues to break up, even the best telehealth platform won’t be able to deliver high-quality video. This is one of the more important telehealth equipment requirements for consideration. An internet (or mobile connection) is one of the most important telehealth equipment requirements.
It is possible to stream video at slower speeds, these speeds will provide the clearest connection and video consult experience. A simple way to test your internet connection speed is to go to www.speedtest.net, click on “Begin Test” and speediest will tell you exactly what your download and upload speeds are.
If you are consistently having poor internet connection on your end, you should consider contacting your internet provider and ask them about potentially upgrading your service. If it is your patient who is struggling with their internet connection, you can suggest that they try using a wired internet connection instead of WiFi. Plugging straight into their router or modem with an ethernet cable is a simple and quick way to improve internet connection.
You don’t want your kids barging in on you or your spouse yelling to ask you what’s for dinner when you are having a telehealth visit with a patient. Patients expect to be seen in a private setting even when visits are being conducted remotely. You’ll want to conduct your telehealth visits in a place that is free from loud noises and that can be closed off when necessary.
For video consults, you don’t want to have a muscle car calendar or your favorite sports team poster as your background, it’s important to stay professional. So, think about your background. A plain white background is ideal but a bookshelf or something that is professional-looking is also acceptable.
Desk or table
We know how great it sounds to work from bed or the couch, but in order to remain professional and not hurt your back, work from a desk or table.
This is another step that is crucial in order to prevent back pain and problems. A proper chair is key to preventing bad posture as well, so invest in a comfortable office chair to do your telehealth consults from.
Final thoughts about telehealth equipment requirements
Working from home is a luxury in today’s world but in order to conduct your telehealth visits properly and be in compliance with HIPAA, you do need to make sure you have the proper equipment. Check out our other articles and resources at Telehealthist.com.