You’ve got a telehealth appointment scheduled in three minutes, but the office is cluttered, and there’s no time to tidy up. Rather than risk distracting your patient, consider using a virtual background. 

While it’s generally preferable to use your actual background, there are several scenarios in which a virtual background might be the better option for a telehealth visit:

  • You don’t have time to set up a professional, distraction-free background
  • You are traveling or away from the office in a location that might be distracting to your patient
  • You need to conduct a session with a recurring client (e.g., for therapy) from a new place and don’t want to emphasize the change

However, surveys show that most people prefer seeing the actual room behind you on a video call. Unless concealing your surroundings is necessary, it’s better to create an appealing backdrop and skip the virtual background. 

To create an excellent background, think about what you’d like to see behind a professional you are consulting. Sit in front of a bookcase, hang up your diplomas, set up a lamp, or stage an appealing house plant. If your standard background isn’t distracting, show your regular video to convey authenticity, trustworthiness, and expertise. 

How to find free telehealth virtual backgrounds

There are two ways to find free, high-quality images if you need to use a virtual background for telehealth. 

First, check with your employer. If you work for a large hospital or health system, they often provide branded virtual backgrounds for this purpose. 

For example, Kaiser Permanente released this series of background images celebrating the organization’s 75th anniversary. Contact your IT department or search Google for your organization’s name and “Zoom background” or “virtual background.”

Most employers provide branded images like this one, which are good options for a telehealth virtual background.

A second option is Unsplash, a good source of free stock images, including virtual backgrounds. Unsplash uses a license similar to Creative Commons, so you can download high-quality photos and use them for commercial purposes free of charge.

Five virtual backgrounds for telehealth

Here are five images that make good virtual backgrounds for telehealth. See many more options by searching Unsplash for “virtual background” or “Zoom background.” 

Remember that you’ll get the best results from virtual backgrounds if you set your computer up so you face a natural light source. 

1. Minimalist white background

This simple background isn’t distracting and could be a real background at an elegant medical clinic.

Photo by Liana Mikah on Unsplash

2. Bookcase background

Your actual bookcase probably doesn’t look like this one, but this is a nice option that conveys professionalism and expertise. 

Photo by Iñaki del Olmo on Unsplash

3. Modern apartment 

Backgrounds like this airy, modern apartment are appropriate for therapy or other appointments that would be common in a non-clinical setting. 

Photo by Nathan Van Egmond on Unsplash

4. Just a lamp

This lamp against a green wall is a simple option if you need a no-frills virtual background for telehealth.

Photo by David van Dijk on Unsplash

5. House plant background

Real plants are better, but this blank wall with a potted house plant is a good substitute if you need a virtual background. 

Photo by Mitchell Luo on Unsplash
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