Using Unannounced Standardized Patients to Assess Clinician Telehealth and Communication Skills at an Urban Student Health Center.

Publication date: Feb 29, 2024

As the COVID-19 pandemic forced most colleges and universities to go online, student health centers rapidly shifted to telehealth platforms without frameworks for virtual care provision. An urban student health center implemented a needs assessment involving unannounced standardized patients (USPs) to evaluate the integration of a new telehealth workflow and clinicians’ virtual communication skills. From April to May 2021, USPs conducted two video visits with 12 primary care and four women’s health clinicians (N = 16 clinicians; 32 visits). Cases included (1) a 21-year-old female presenting for birth control with a positive Patient Health Questionaire-9 and (2) a 21-year-old male, who vapes regularly, with questions regarding safe sex with men. Clinicians were evaluated using a checklist completed by the USP immediately following the visit and a systematic chart review of the electronic health record. USP feedback indicates most clinicians received high ratings for general communication skills but may benefit from educational intervention in several key telemedicine skills. Clinicians struggled with using nonverbal signals to enrich communication (47% well done), acknowledging emotions (34% well done), and using video for information gathering (34% well done). Low rates of standard screenings (e. g., 63% administered the PHQ-2,

Concepts Keywords
Clinicians Competency-based education
Pandemic Depressive disorder
Sex Medical education
Universities Needs assessment
Sex education
Student health service


Type Source Name
disease MESH COVID-19 pandemic
disease IDO intervention
disease MESH Depressive disorder

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