In this Allied session, Alison Taylor, Jane co-founder, and Stephani Oolup, physiotherapist at The Athletes Grid and LiveActive Sport Medicine, discuss what returning to work might look like both during and after the effects of COVID-19, as well as what you can do now to prepare yourself before re-opening your practice.
Returning to Work
What will returning to work look like? This is the question that is on everyone’s minds these days as the ability to return to in-person work looms on the horizon.
This return to work does not mean that telehealth and virtual care will be forgotten. Instead, Alison and Stephani predict, based on what they have seen in their own clinics, that the most likely scenario will be a hybrid model of both in-person and virtual care: an in-person visit followed up with several weeks of telehealth appointments, initial screening and assessment visits done via telehealth, and any combination of the two options that you can imagine. Clinics will find the formats that work best for them, but it is safe to say that it will likely include both in-person and virtual visits for the foreseeable future, if not permanently.
What Can You Do Now to Prepare?
A hybrid model of in-person and virtual appointments will be especially helpful during the early weeks and months of reopening clinics when practitioners are still figuring out schedules and procedures, while also making sure to follow new guidelines and rules set in place by the government and associations.
While it’s still too early to tell exactly what a return to work will look like for allied health workers, it’s never too early to start planning. And there is lots of planning to be done.
Connect With Patients
Use this time to reach out to your patients and check in with them. You can send emails, write posts on social media and update the messaging on your website. However, the best form of communication with patients during this time is a phone call. Set aside some time to call your patients to check in with them and see how they are managing with their care at home.
If you are unsure what to say or where to start with this process, watch our Allied session on Telehealth Conversions, where Rick Lau, Darryl Yardley and Karen Craven talk about the power and importance of phone outreach during these times.
Now is the time to source and order PPE and cleaning supplies for your clinic. We might not know exactly what we will be needing, but we do know that these types of items will be in high demand and in limited supply, especially during the initial return to work phase. Creating a list of suppliers and beginning to order some of the supplies you think you might need (masks, gowns, spray bottles, etc.) is a good idea. Remember to be a good neighbour and community member and not order more than your share.
If you are looking to create cleaning checklists, Alison shared a CDC pocket guide during the session that clinics might find helpful as a starting point.
We also find the Infection Prevention and Control guide published by the College of Physical Therapists of British Columbia helpful.
You can begin making updates to schedules knowing that you will need things like buffer time between patients for cleaning, staggered appointments to ensure there are not too many people in your clinic at one time, and also time and rooms for virtual screening calls and telehealth appointments.
You can also make updates to your website and booking sites to ensure that your patients are informed as to what your clinic is doing during these times, as well as what they need to know before their visits.
If you have yet to try telehealth appointments but are considering it so that you can begin seeing patients before you are able to fully reopen your clinic, Alison and Stephani suggest doing some practice calls. Practice calls give both you and your staff a chance to get used to the platform and ensure a smooth flow for when you have your first live call with a patient. Make sure to have everyone at your clinic runs through a call both as a practitioner and as a patient to make sure you understand what your patients are seeing and experiencing on their calls.
Returning to work also likely means a reduction in hours that you are available to treat patients in person due to needing buffers between visits for cleaning as well as potential limits to the number of people that can be in your clinic at one time. This is one area where screening calls will be incredibly helpful. You can set up screening calls to determine whether the patient requires an in-person visit or if their care can be managed entirely virtually via video calls.
10 Ways Jane Can Help
1. Online Booking Banner
You can add a banner to your online booking site to provide additional information and context for your patients. You can add as much or as little context as you need––plus you can change this messaging quickly and easily to ensure your booking site messaging is always up to date.
To add a banner to your online booking site go to Settings > Language > Notice/Message on Online Booking Pages
Learn more about customizing the language on your online booking page.
2. Patient Messaging
You can also add additional information for your patients to specific treatments in two areas: Description (Before Booking), which patients will see on the online booking page, and Booking Information (After Booking), which is included in thanks for booking emails, reminder emails, as well as on the online booking page after patients book.
To update either of these messages go to Staff > Choose a Staff Member > Treatments & Classes > Manage Treatments > Click Edit beside the treatment you want to edit > Scroll to Details
3. Text Reminders
Another way to communicate with your patients is through text reminders, which allow you to send appointment reminders along with any other important information directly to their phones. You can choose when to send it (from 5 minutes up to 7 days before their appointment) and can preview what the message will look like before setting it live.
To edit or enable text reminders go to Settings > Reminders & Notifications > Text Message (SMS)
Learn more about text reminders in Jane.
4. Staggered Bookings
Once you reopen your clinic, it is likely that you will still need to minimize the number of people in your clinic to make sure social distancing guidelines are being followed—one of the best ways to do this is by creating staggered bookings. Two of the most common scenarios for staggered bookings are appointments booked in two rooms and appointments booked on one shift. However, there are many different treatment styles that include overlapping or staggered appointment booking, so it’s best to test out a few scenarios and see what works best for your clinic.
Learn more about staggered bookings.
5. Post-Treatment Time
You will also need to build in extra time to allow for sanitizing and changing of PPE between appointments as well. Jane offers a couple of different ways to automatically add post-treatment time to appointments either by all appointments scheduled with a specific practitioner or all appointments for a particular treatment.
Learn more about post-treatment time.
6. Online Appointments
With Jane’s new Online Appointments feature you can quickly and easily begin offering telehealth treatments for your patients. Plus, this new feature is free for all Jane accounts for the next few months while we all manage the effects of COVID-19.
Learn more about Online Appointments.
7. Contactless Payments
With Jane Payments, you are able to have a contactless payment system and store customer cards on their profile, accept online booking pre-payments online, and send e-invoices to customers for outstanding balances.
To enable Jane Payments on your account, go to Settings > Integrations > Jane Payments
Learn more about Jane Payments.
8. Physitrack Integration
Physitrack is an exercise prescription system that also collects patient-reported outcomes and lets you analyze the results across your practice in real time. You can use Jane’s Online Appointments feature alongside Jane’s Phyistrack integration to make sure your patients are completing their exercises at home properly.
To enable Physitack on your account, go to Settings > Integrations > Physitrack
Learn more about Jane’s Physitrack integration.
9. Ongoing Training
While you’re getting ready to return to work you can also take this time to begin to update or create new training materials. We know there will be new protocols and procedures to follow, especially around sanitization and social distancing, so documenting as much of the new information as you can into your training materials will give you a head start once you reopen.
We have over 25 video sessions from our virtual community conference that you can watch on a variety of topics, including telehealth, Jane best practices, Facebook marketing for small businesses, cybersecurity and more: Allied On Demand.
10. COVID-19 Resources
It’s important that you and your staff stay up to date with news and information around your discipline concerning when a return to work might happen for you and what new rules and regulations might surround it. Jane is continuing to compile relevant COVID-19 resources for our community so that you have a convenient place to go to get the latest updates at a glance.
Read all of our COVID-19 resources.
- The Future of Physical Therapy by Stephani Oolup
- Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson’s Open Letter
- CDC Ortho Pain Pocket Guide Handbook
- Allied: The jane.app Virtual Community Conference sessions on demand
- Jane’s COVID-19 resources