There’s Never Been A Better Time For Health & Wellness Practitioners to Transition Online

It’s everywhere in the media – the global COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally changed the way we live and work. While a slow burn in the transition to tele-health services already existed before 2020, the urgency with which practitioners must embrace this change has skyrocketed. With anxieties soaring, I wanted to share some insights to help health and wellness practitioners transition online with greater ease.

The question: “How do I transition my practice online when I’m not a “techy” person?” has been asked a lot. Now, more than ever, we must adapt and change the way we run our businesses. We must make our essential services more accessible in a way that is safe. Safe – not only for the clients and patients but also for the practitioners. So for those who don’t consider themselves to be particularly tech-savvy, there are ways to make this transition without feeling overwhelmed!

As a certified consultant who supports service providers to help them run more profitable, successful businesses, I’ve gathered some information about how practitioners can transition online, so they can keep their “doors open” and continue to be there for their clients, who need them more than ever during this time of uncertainty. 

Here Are Some Tips So Practitioners Can Transition Online With Confidence

Verify Your Regulations

The most important first step is to verify that you are authorized to provide virtual, telehealth services. There are three main places you should check:

  1. Your State or Provincial Regulations
  2. Your Industry’s Ethics Codes & Guidelines
  3. Your Insurance Provider’s Liability Coverage – Check Your Policy

Adopt The Entrepreneurial Mindset

One of the most important things that you can do is to develop confidence in your ability to adapt and change – something that all entrepreneurs must be able to master. The entrepreneurial mindset enables you to be or become a master problem-solver. Instead of facing a challenge and worrying or panicking about the situation, ask the tough questions. Such as:

  • What do I need to adapt?
  • What can I do differently to pivot my practice?
  • How can we use existing resources to make positive changes with the least amount of disruption or expense?

And then take decisive action and follow through with your plan. Often, once we take the time to actually list out what we need to make the change we see that it’s actually not that much of a hurdle to get over after all.

If you already had a workspace in your home, it’s likely that you can easily turn this into your private home practice with few changes. A laptop or computer with a webcam and a microphone is all you really need in addition to an internet connection in terms of actual computer equipment.

Already have a full roster of clients that you see in person? No problem! Share your excitement about this new way you can serve them. Give them some advance notice. Put it up on your website. Send out an email to all of your existing and past clients to share the news. We have a section below dedicated specifically to communication!

Thinking about launching a new practice? You can get it set up online right out of the gate by leveraging the technologies available to us that make it easier than ever to get set up.

Embrace Modern Technology Solutions So Health and Wellness Practitioners Can Transition Online Like Professionals

Whether you already used electronic records, digital charting, online booking systems, or not, now is the time to grasp this opportunity to run your practice more effectively and efficiently.

Gone are the days where paper files and manual administration were considered to be the most effective methods to run your practice. It’s more important than ever, not only to reduce wasted time, eliminate inefficiencies, and boost profitability, to set up your practice to run like a well-oiled machine.

Embracing online technologies to run and manage your practice electronically will take the heavy lifting off your hands and automate many of the tasks you need to do on a regular basis. This frees up your time – the most valuable resource we have in life and business.

There are many software applications on the market that offer an “all in one” digital practice management experience. So you don’t even have to worry about having to purchase and learn how to use 5, 6, 7+ different pieces of software to make it all happen. Our favourite solution is the JaneApp – a complete, comprehensive practice management software that is continually adding to its features to better serve their users.

From online bookings, to invoicing, to insurance payments, to digital charting and electronic health records, to managing multiple practitioners and even hosting your telehealth sessions on video right from within the same software – there are some really great solutions on the market these days that can help you manage all the moving parts efficiently and effectively.

It’s worthwhile to take the time to find the right software solution for you. You can get started for as low as $70 – $100 / month. 

Your “Techlist”

  • HIPPAA-secure video conferencing app / software (Such as through the amazing JaneApp)
  • HIPPAA-secure email and phone connection
  • Secure online payment processing (also available through JaneApp)
  • Electronic health records (recommended)
  • Webcam (If using a laptop, you can use the one that is already built-in or you can buy a simple webcam such as this one from Logitech.)
  • Microphone (Either use the one that is build into your Logitech webcam, or purchase a stand-alone mic, such as this popular Blue Yeti.)

Communicate With Your Clients About The Transition To Telehealth

Communicating with your clients is going to be a very important part of your transition online. Health and wellness practitioners don’t want to cause any unnecessary anxiety for their clients and patients. So establishing clear communication with your client base is a good way to ease the transition, keep them informed, build confidence and trust.

Agnes Wainman, the owner of London Psychological Services, emphasized that “the first point of buy-in begins with the therapist. There has to be that sense of confidence” if you want your clients to feel comfortable showing up for virtual therapy sessions.

Getting used to the technology – from the equipment you use, the applications you leverage and getting comfortable on camera – it all starts with you.

  • Let your clients know that you’re excited about the transition.
  • Communicate very clearly, step by step, exactly what the client needs to do to show up for their appointment online.
  • Let them know what equipment they need.
  • Let them know where they can go to get their questions answered.
  • Let them know how to get help if they get stuck.
  • Record short “explainer” videos for your clients that they can watch, to explain and coach them through the process of getting ready for their session. For example, this could include instructions for setting up their web-cam and where to place it so that it’s at eye level, or how to “maximize” the size of the video on their screen so that you can get a good view of each other.

It’s not only OK to give them the same information multiple times or in different places or formats, but it’s also actually recommended to do so. Include the call access instructions not only in their confirmation email, but include it in all appointment reminder communications and in the calendar link that they receive for the session.

If you feel like you’re OVER-communicating this information, you’re probably doing it just right. 

Test Your Online Systems Ahead Of Time

I recommend doing some playing around and testing of your “online” set up before beginning your first telehealth session.

  1. Test out your lighting, webcam and microphone. Record a short “test” session and confirm that the recording is in good quality and that you can clearly understand the playback in the video.
  2. Test out your session booking flow. Do this by booking in an appointment with yourself as if you are the client and see what the user experience is like. Make note of any part of the process where the client could get stuck and see if you can optimize that step to make it simpler.
  3. If you get stuck with any of the technology, don’t give up. There are many people who can help you – whether it’s the customer support team from the software you’re using, the manufacturer of the hardware you’ve purchased, or it’s simply a coach or consultant who has done this a million times. There are people who can help you work out the kinks in your process.
  4. Make sure you have ample opportunities for your clients to give you their feedback along the way. Using their feedback, you can tweak and optimize the experience as you go. You’ll find at the beginning, getting up and running is better than getting it 100% perfect, but be open to the continual improvement process to boost the user-friendliness of your online systems.
  5. Take your background into account. Does it distract your client when they’re looking at your video? Is it cluttered or messy? My recommendation is to think about what you would want your in-person office backdrop to look like, and try to replicate that as much as possible for your video backdrop. Keep it professional and as distraction-free as possible.

Create A Confidential Space

There are some things to consider when setting up your home office space.

  • Is the location where you intend to provide your sessions private?
  • Is it separate from other rooms, so no one can access the space while you’re running your sessions?
  • Is there a lock on the door? If not, is it likely that others who can access the space will respect your need for privacy?
  • When you talk, can other people (outside the room) hear what you’re saying? If so, can you generate background noise to muffle the sound of your voice?
  • It’s recommended to use headphones or earbuds during your sessions, so that your client’s voice is kept private and is only audible to you.

Be Ready to Coach and Support Your Clients On Their First Session

As health and wellness practitioners, no one is expecting you to all of a sudden become tech gurus. But, it does go a long way to provide some guidance and assurance to your clients. By helping them get their camera pointed straight and at a eye level, you’ll help them enjoy a more personalized experience, even when meeting from a distance.

Your clients may feel nervous about being on camera. This is normal and is just one of the things you’ll need to address as you do your best to make the session as comfortable as possible for both of you.

Get Professional Support

As busy professionals, we know that our time is the most valuable resource we have. So don’t waste your time trying to figure it all out on your own. There are leaders within your industry who have done this before. There are consultants and coaches who can help you go through this process without the headache. By working with a professional you can cut your learning curve down and transition to an online, virtual practice in a fraction of the time. The “cost” is more of an investment in your success than an expense as it enables you to:

  • Reduce downtime
  • Eliminate situations that could cause frustration with your clients
  • Leverage an opportunity to serve more clients as you can work remotely and support anyone in the area you’re licensed to practice in

Use Resources From Your Regulatory Body

In this section, you’ll find a summary of the telehealth regulations in Canada, broken down by province and discipline.  These links will provide you with information that will help wellness practitioners transition to online telehealth services.

It is absolutely imperative that you are meeting all regulatory requirements of the jurisdiction in which you are operating.

Physiotherapist Practitioners Can Transition Online

Jurisdiction Organization Resource
Canada Canadian Physiotherapy Association Tele-Rehabilitation
Canada Alliance of Physiotherapy General Guidelines
Canada Alliance of Physiotherapy Out of Juristriction Practice
B.C. College of Physical Therapists Guidlines for Tele-Rehabilitation
A.B. Physiotherapy College and Association Telerehabilitation Resource Guide
S.K. College of Physical Therapists Practice Guideline – Telerehabilitation
M.B. College of Physiotherapists Telerehabilitation Resource Guide
O.N. College of Physiotherapists Tele-practice: Guidelines and Resources
O.N. College of Registered Physiotherapists Implementing Electronic Practice
Q.C Professional Order of Physiotherapy Principles in Tele-practice (FN)
Q.C. Professional Order of Physiotherapy Blog post regarding COVID-19
N.B. College of Physiotherapists Links to Alberta’s guidance
N.S. College of Physiotherapists Considerations for Telepractice
N.L. College of Physiotherapists Using Telerehabilitation

Clinical Counsellor Practitioners Can Transition Online

Jurisdiction Organization Resource
Canada Counselling and Psychotherapy Association Technology and Innovative Solutions
Canada Counselling and Psychotherapy Association B16. Electronic Technologies
Canada Counselling and Psychotherapy Association E‐counselling: Possible Pitfalls
B.C. Association of Clinical Counsellors Remote Counselling and Privacy Law
O.N. College of Registered Psychotherapists Implementing Electronic Practice
Q.C. College of Guidance Counselors Digital Technologies in Guidance
N.B. College of Counselling Therapists Adopted the Practice Guidelines by CCPA
N.S. College of Counselling Therapists Adopted the Practice Guidelines by CCPA

 

Psychology Practitioners Can Transition Online

Jurisdiction Organization Resource
Canada Association of Psychology Standards for Telepsychology Service
B.C. College of Psychologists Offering Services Through Telepsychology
B.C. College of Psychologists Telepsychology Services Checklist
B.C. College of Psychologists Telepsychology Assessment Checklist
A.B. College of Psychologists Guideline – Telepsychology Services
S.K. College of Psychologists Section 16.1 Telepsychology
N.B. Psychological Association Adopted the Practice Guidelines by CPA
O.N. College of Psychology Section 15. Use of Technology
N.S. Board of Examiners Standards for Telepsychology Service
N.L. Psychology Board Telepsychology Documents
P.E. Psychology Board Practice Guideline: Telepsychology

The Pivot Your Practice Program

As an experienced business and digital marketing consultant who has worked with professional service providers for several years, I have had the pleasure of helping some health and wellness practitioners grow their businesses online.

I see the need for support in this area growing. So I developed a program specifically designed to provide the exact support needed, so health and wellness practitioners can not only transition online with greater ease, but also design their private practice to support their lifestyle goals.

We work together to quickly and efficiently set up your virtual, private practice, whether you are a single owner / operator, or you run a multi-practitioner wellness centre, we can guide you through the process of pivoting the way your run your business, so you can serve clients online.

What makes us different than other consultants? While we serve the health and wellness industries, we are NOT here to teach you how to deliver your “zone of genius”. We expect that you have your trade down so you will not find specific information about HOW to deliver your core service (i.e. HOW to treat your clients). What you WILL find, is more in-depth support around the areas of growing a profitable and thriving business. We go heavy on business best practices, cash flow management, marketing, automating your processes so that you cut down on unnecessary administration, and leveraging digital technologies to grow your practice online.

This is your opportunity to engage the help and support of an experienced business professional who specializes in online technologies to help you not only survive this transition, but actually come out stronger with an even better way of delivering your services that aligns with your lifestyle.

If you’re interested in learning more, please book a consultation online by clicking HERE.