Many incredibly helpful websites/guides have been written by leading associations and therapists on Coronavirus or Covid-19 and the health impacts. The difficult question though is what does this mean for your business as it will have a negative impact.
The Chief Scientific Advisor Sir Patrick Vallance announced on 12th March that they believe the peak will be 10-14 weeks away and that 95% of people who will be affected are expected to be affected over a nine to ten week period either side of the peak. This could mean months of disruption.
It will significantly change people’s lives and activities, with many events cancelled. It will lead to both a decrease in appointments for you and many cancelled appointments but there are some steps you can take to help minimise the pain. We’re already offering our members discounts and the ability to pause subscriptions to help during the toughest times.
Unless your patients have been living under a rock, all of them will be aware of what is happening and will be wondering what it means for appointments with you, whether to book, should they cancel etc?
Be proactive and contact patients with simple clear messaging to:
a. Let them know you’re still open and what steps you’re taking re. Covid-19, pre-empting some of their questions.
b. In line with the guidance, advise them not to visit if displaying symptoms
c. Explain cancellation procedures if required and make it simple.
d. If possible, for your business, be proactive in allowing people to choose an online consultation.
e. It is a time where DNA's, no shows, last minute cancellations will increase so protect yourself with payment/deposits in advance and a 24-hour cancellation policy. These are easily achieved via Sports Injury Fix.
N.B. if you aren’t already set up online then we can help you get started with a free 121 consultation, 3 months half price, ongoing 121 help and the ability to pause the subscription at any time should you have to close your clinic. Book a call at a time that suits you here.
2. Provide Alternatives to face to face
Let patients know they don’t have to cancel if they don’t want to or can’t see you face to face. It can be a phone call, text chat or ideally a video consultation. Setting up an online consultation can be daunting to know where to start but it’s free with reputable providers and we’ve covered the tips below.
a. Let patients know you can offer it. Add a service on your online booking system, website etc that clearly shows online consultation and the ability to book it. Booking online provides the reassurance to you and the patient they’ve agreed to T’s and C’s. See appendix 1 for how to easily do this on Sports Injury Fix.
b. Collect payment online, as cash and in person card payments are out of the question, have a 24-hour cancellation policy and use SMS notifications to protect from DNAs/No Shows. Again, we’re always happy to help therapists get this set up to help them.
c. Get online – there are three main options and it’s probably worth having all of them, or at least Skype and Zoom to deal with patient prefences and making them feel comfortable.
Zoom.Us provides free 121 video conferencing. Available via their app or patients can just input a URL you send them. Very reliable and easy to use.
Skype: Some patients prefer this if they are used to it. It’s free if both parties have Skype accounts.
Group calls – if there are more than two parties dialling in, Zoom allows you up to 40 mins on their free plan but whereby.com allows you unlimited time but limits it to 4 connections.
d. Consider online prescription software – if you cannot film clients or easily hand them a drawing then you may wish to consider using one of the many online prescription pieces of software on the market.
e. Manage expectations – clearly you cannot do as much as you would if you could see them face to face however at the start of any online consultation manage the expectations of what you can/can’t do.
SIF Director Mike James has been using "Telehealth" and online consultations for a number of years in his private practise. He has the following advice.
"A large proportion of my athletes / clients are living, competing, training overseas or within unrealistic geographical distances to make regular visits in person to my clinic. Therefore I am regularly required to perform online / video assessments to manage them.
As with many, I was skeptical when I started doing this, as I was / am a firm believer that nothing replaces 1:1 in person contact and the physical element of our industry.
However it is now an essential component of how I practise and communicate with my athletes.
Initial consultations are much more of an extended subjective assessment and working hypothesis based on some physical testing through the screen. I always have to caveat that this does not replace a truly objective clinical assessment, but its still better than not seeing them and definitely gives me an advantage to get them started at least.
Where I truly find it exceptional is in the realms of ongoing management and follow ups to progress and maintain management of them when unable to attend, and /or those seeking a second opinion or advice.
Being able to watch them perform tests, movements and exercises via video call is phenomenal for me to develop their programmes and rehabilitation, and I can easily send them videos of new progressions / regressions (or use prescription software if you desire).
I usually tend to perform it on an ad hoc basis depending on the time of their season etc, generally booking and managing offline.
However in the light of recent COVID-19 escalation, I have decided to use this system with ALL of my locally based athletes too. I have simply got them to use the same booking system they currently use via the SIF platform with some simple and easy to do amendments to my diary timings.
Whether you decide to reduce costs and / or timing based on your practise is your choice, but remember it is still your valuable time and experience they are accessing.
This is not a new thing in healthcare, but it may be that now is the time for the majority to embrace it, even if in the short term only. We can still help our patients immensely this way and can make a real difference to their lives, and our businesses during this difficult time".
Needless to say, please get in touch if you need a hand setting any of this up or want to talk any of it through. we’re always happy to help. This goes for both members and non SIF members. You can book a call at a time that suits you here or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Similarly, Mike is happy to chat through the Pro's and Con's from the therapist perspective should anyone wish to chat directly with him on this topic.
**Non-members offer** - we can help you get started with a free 121 consultation, 3 months half price, ongoing 121 help and the ability to pause the subscription at any time should you have to close your clinic. Book a call at a time that suits you here.
Adding a service into your SIF account for a 'Skype (or equivalent) online assessment' is always a great option if you haven't done so already. This will allow people to book an online assessment with you. You can still help people, whilst being protected by the T&C's. What's more, taking payment upfront ensures you still get paid.
You can manage this in 'Business', then under 'Therapists'. Click 'More', then 'Edit Prices' to add the service.
You can also then edit the email that goes out by heading to 'Business', then 'Custom Emails'. In there, you can add the Skype link for the call.
 If you’re not already following links then https://www.england.nhs.uk/coronavirus/community-social-care-ambulance is one of the better ones relevant to therapists.