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Humanism in telemedicine: Connecting through virtual visits during the COVID-19 pandemic

Shankar M, Fischer M, Brown-Johnson CG, Safaeinili N, Haverfield MC, Shaw JG, Verghese A, Zulman DM. Humanism in telemedicine: Connecting through virtual visits during the COVID-19 pandemic. Annals of Family Medicine. 2020 Apr 13; COVID-19:Preprint Collection.

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The COVID-19 pandemic is spurring the massive deployment of telemedicine to prevent risk of infection and address healthcare workforce demands. In primary care, many visits have shifted from in-person to telemedicine, introducing a potential barrier to the human connection that is central to clinical care. We adapted existing frameworks that seek to foster humanism in clinical care-the Four Habits Model and Presence 5-to the virtual care context. Reconceptualizing these frameworks to video visits in particular yields strategies for four phases of the visit - (1) Before the Visit: Set up for Success, (2) Beginning the Visit: Establish a Connection, (3) Throughout the Visit: Invest in the Relationship and the Patient's Story, and (4) Completing the Visit: End on a Meaningful Note. Adopting explicit humanistic practices can help clinicians foster meaningful connections with patients through video visits amidst this challenging pandemic and in the future as telemedicine becomes more widely integrated into clinical care.

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