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Essential Tools for Working in Telemedicine

A female physician working in telemedicine
Siarhei Lenets/

After nearly a decade of working in the telemedicine space, I found a few indispensable tools for sanity, physiology, comfort, and efficiency.

The first is a standing desk. Sitting in front of a computer for eight to ten hours a day imparts a physiologic toll with shortening of tendons, stiffness in the hips, neck, back, and shoulders. Having a standing desk allows frequent and efficient position changes. Try setting a timer and modifying posture every 20 minutes. Your body will thank you at the end of each workday.

The next recommendation is to purchase a quality Bluetooth headset. A comfortable headset delivers an exceptional sound for your team and clients and having both hands free magnifies results. Donning earbuds all day is a prescription for otitis externa.

Invest in a faux background screen. No one wants to see a messy kitchen table in the background. It also adds a sense of privacy and professionalism.  Zoom allows you to add a digital version to your room, but most telemedicine companies are lagging in that innovation.

If the room is an echo chamber with hard surface flooring and high ceilings, consider sound absorbing wall tiles or wall art to dampen noise. Wall art is also an effective method to enhance sound.

Having a larger separate monitor amplifies productivity. Frequently switching back and forth between tabs adds wear and tear to the hands and hampers efficiency. A separate monitor allows references and protocols to remain in easy sight for quick access.

Blue blocking glasses are essential, particularly if working into the night hours. Blue light disrupts melatonin and interferes with sleep. Most sensible humans protect their eyes from sunlight, so why not protect against macular degeneration due to excessive screen time?

A dedicated phone may sound too simple to share but having the ability to shut work off is a crucial mental tool. Patients often are reluctant to answer a number that they don’t recognize or if you’re blocking your number, most are unwilling to answer the ever-present telemarketing call.

Text expander software is essential. This tool will save massive quantities of time. Standard replies or paragraphs of text can are entered in just a few keystrokes instead of typing out two or three sections. Text expansion is faster and less prone to error than voice to text software.

If you are part of a larger group, participate in the forum. If one doesn’t exist, reach out to the leadership to create one. Having a platform to bounce off ideas is critical for sanity, safety, and learning from your colleagues.

The physical demands of working in front of a computer for 40 to 60 hours per week will take their toll. The compounding effects of age, combined with all the injuries and poor posture, will catch all of us.

Reward your efforts through self-care. Invest in a foam roller and consider professional massage when it’s possible again. Break up the day by moving, staying hydrated, and stretching periodically.

While many are anxious to return to the typical work setting, the new normal has a fantastic potential for those who are equipped with the right tools and mindset to be efficient and productive.

Further Reading

The Expanding Role of Telemedicine

Is Working in Telemedicine a Good Choice for You?

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About Mitchel Schwindt, MD

Dr. Mitchel Schwindt is a board-certified emergency medicine physician who practices in a variety of clinical settings. He completed his residency at Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan. As part of Michigan State University, Butterworth was renamed Spectrum Health, and is one of the busiest level 1 emergency and trauma centers in the United States. He served as chief resident his final year. While there he was inducted into Alpha Omega Alpha, a prestigious medical honor society. He also devoted a significant amount of time working as a flight physician (helicopter) for an aeromedical company.

Dr. Schwindt has served on many committees and steering groups related to health care, quality and process improvement and was a former trauma program medical director. He serves as a volunteer physician for local sporting and martial arts events. He is a consultant and medical advisor to several dental groups and has developed protocols and policies related to medical issues in the dental practice.

Wellness and nutrition are a passionate interest for Dr. Schwindt. He writes extensively on the subject and has published several related books. He is a member of the A4M – The American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine and is currently pursing a functional and sports medicine fellowship.

In his free time, he enjoys competing in triathlons, skiing, water sports, time with family, foreign travel and pursuing entrepreneurial activities.

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