Returning to practice

Returning to practice
May 12, 2020 Tabitha Holland

For the last few months, we have all been operating as best we can in a very uncertain time. 

At PPS HQ we’ve been working on putting together some information which will help you transition your practice as smoothly as possible as restrictions are lifted. In this blog we will be breaking it down, looking at key aspects of returning to work, what to consider, how to prepare, adapt and maintain safety measures.

1. Communicating with clients

 

Naturally, we’re used to seeing our clients on a regular basis. Whether it’s checking them in for their appointments with a friendly smile, having a little catch up before starting your treatment sessions, or synchronising schedules to book follow-up appointments. Over the past few months, things have had to change a little to support working with clients remotely. We’ve been looking at what will happen when you can start to return to practice and how to manage the transition to the new normal in terms of communicating with your clients.

 

Consideration: Changing opening hours, new procedures, hygiene and safety measures.

It is inevitable that when you return to the clinic you will need to review your hygiene and safety measures, taking every precaution necessary to protect yourself, your staff and your clients’ health. As a result of this, some of your procedures will change, too! It’s also likely that the government will recommend a staggered approach to return to work, this might see you adjusting the opening hours of your clinic.

 

How to prepare and adapt

  • Creating email and SMS templates

The first step in getting information out to your clients is creating a template. An email or SMS template can be used on an individual or group basis and is the perfect way to communicate any changes you might need to make to continue to practice.

Our guide on activity templates will guide you through creating or editing templates to send to your clients to keep them informed.

  • Identifying all clients with upcoming appointments

When you are contacting your clients it might only be necessary to get in touch with those with future appointments already booked. This can be particularly helpful if practitioner availability changes due to illness or rooms become unavailable to accommodate deep cleaning or other hygiene and safety measures.

Follow our guide on using PPS reports to identify and contact all clients with upcoming appointments.

  • Sending mailshots/newsletters

If you need to get some important information out to all of your clients, it’s really easy to do this using the marketing and mailshots feature in PPS. 

When creating your email templates in PPS you can use the built-in HTML wizard or upload your own HTML designs. Mailchimp is a great tool for creating colourful, professional email templates and managing mailing lists.

Import your templates to PPS and use the reports section to identify your list of clients and send out your Mailchimp template, or export your report results and add your client’s details to MailChimp to manage your mailing list there.

We are currently working on an integration with Mailchimp to make things even easier for you, so now is a great time to familiarise yourself with the platform, too!

 

Consideration: Booking confirmations and reminders

Booking confirmations and reminders are vital tools in communicating with your clients with regard to their upcoming treatment. In returning to practice you might want to consider updating your templates to include information on what clients can expect from their next appointment. You may wish to give advance notice of any PPE you’ll need to wear while treating or ask clients to attend as close to their appointment time as possible to avoid a crowded reception area. You can also use this process to reiterate the importance of not attending appointments if unwell.  

 

How to prepare and adapt

  • Updating booking confirmations and reminders

Review existing booking confirmations and reminders and make sure to adapt them accordingly to fit your new procedures. Consider including links to external resources if you have specific information or guidance for clients on your website or social media and make sure all of your contact details are included so your clients can get in touch if they need to.

Follow our guide on booking confirmations and reminders to get started.

 

Maintaining safety measures

As it becomes clear that returning to work will be a phased operation, it’s important not to lose touch with your clients and to keep them updated on your availability and how you are continuing to adapt and react to evolving government guidelines as we navigate through the pandemic. Sending regular newsletters and updates to your clients will be essential in maintaining a good relationship, make sure your clients are ready to receive your communications by setting checking contact preferences.

 

2.Diary/appointments management

 

The appointments diary is typically the central hub of any busy clinic. A good diary set-up makes it easy to manage bookings, availability and extracurricular activity like staff meetings. When you are ready to return to practice, utilise the appointments diary to support your new set-up and ease yourself and your clients into new habits.

 

 

Consideration: Staggering working hours and appointment slots in a clinic with more than one practitioner

If you are working in a clinic where there are multiple practitioners, treatment rooms, or even departments it’s inevitable that you will have multiple people in the practice at any one time. In order to try and regulate the flow of people attending the practice throughout the day you may want to offset your staff’s working hours. Staggering practitioner start times also creates an opportunity to rearrange appointment slots, starting some on the hour, some at quarter past, some at half past and so on. This allows for larger gaps between the arrival of clients and will lead to a less crowded reception area.

 

How to prepare and adapt

  • Updating diary availability

In order to accommodate your new working hours and appointment slots, you will need to update your diary availability. Availability can be managed by room or practitioner and you can set your availability up to 99 weeks in advance.

Follow this guide for details on how to add or update your appointments diary availability.

 

Consideration: Extending appointment durations to allow for cleaning or more time-consuming processes to accommodate social distancing measures

In order to maintain hygiene and safety standards, it’s likely you will be undertaking more intense cleaning, practising more stringent personal hygiene measures and processing stricter screening procedures before treating patients. All of this will inevitably have an impact on the duration of your treatment sessions. Even if the extra time isn’t spent with your patient, you will still need to set time aside to incorporate your new procedures.

 

How to prepare and adapt

  • Updating appointment types and durations

The easiest way to accommodate your new procedures is to update your appointment durations to include the time you need for treatment and any other processes. Updating your appointment durations keeps the appointment booking process simple and affords you the extra time you need.

Follow our guide on updating your appointment durations or adding new appointment types.

 

Maintaining safety measures

In addition to adapting how you manage your diary and appointments, you may want to consider how you can relieve some of the personal contact in your reception. In order to minimise face to face encounters, you can use a call handling company such as Factotum, MyRuby or ClinicAnswer to pick up calls on your behalf. The call handling team can manage new clients, repeat bookings, general availability and payments.

For those appointments that you do still want to manage in the clinic, use a check-in kiosk. Allow your clients to book in on arrival via a touch screen device, pop some sanitising hand gel to the side of your kiosk and make sure to give the screen a regular wipe down to keep the process as clean as possible. Contact our sales department for more information on adding PPS Self Check-In to your PPS system.

Keep your online booking availability open. For those of you that have continued to practice during the lockdown, you might have found online booking particularly helpful in managing new and existing customers. Online booking is an easy and remote way of booking treatments and processing payments. Follow our guide on online booking and payment processing here.

 

3.Managing clients

Understanding your clients, identifying their needs and catering to special requirements has never been so important. Returning to practice will require new policies on exactly how to handle your clients, from registration all the way through to discharge. Here we’ll discuss some of the key elements in managing your clients on your return to practice.

 

Consideration: Identifying clients in ‘high/at risk’ categories

Even simple treatments now have a whole new dimension when we factor in how to handle clients who fall into the ‘high/at risk’ categories for COVID-19. Not only will you need to consider how you interact with them as a practitioner, but also the potential for them to come into contact with other clients at your practice, too. You’ll need to develop your own procedures for handling these clients, but first, you will need to make sure you have an easy way of identifying them.

 

How to prepare and adapt

  • Adding critical notes to client details

Adding a critical note to a client’s record is an easy and efficient way of alerting all PPS users of any critical information, for example, ‘This client is immunocompromised’. Once a critical note has been added to a client’s details, a notification will pop up each time this client’s record is accessed via PPS for any reason, so you will see this information when you check their client log, book a new appointment, start a new consultation, etc! Critical notes can also be assigned an expiry date, perfect for those who you might need to identify temporarily, such as pregnant women.

Follow our guide for adding and managing critical notes in PPS. Once you have a critical note on a client log you can also use PPS reports to find these clients easily, follow our guide on how to do this here.

  • Using custom profile fields

In the client details screen in PPS, there is a profile section that contains several customisable profile fields, the perfect tools for capturing client data specific to your practice needs. Custom profile fields can be used to record information such as occupation, lifestyle choices, ie ‘smoker or non-smoker’ or you can even use this to record if the patient identifies as ‘High/at risk’. Five of the custom profile fields allow you to set a list of answers to choose from, which regulates the data input making it really easy to report on, a great way of identifying clients with similar profiles.

Follow this guide on customising your profile fields and reporting on the data.

  • Adapting medical history forms

Using the medical history form is a great way of keeping track of your clients health including any medications they might be taking or other treatment and illnesses not related to your services, all of which could help you to identify clients that might need special care and attention. Medical history is visible in the consultation notes screen and can prompt you when a particular section is up for review.

Follow this guide to customise your medical history forms and how to utilise that data with reports.

 

Consideration: Review triage methods

Prior to COVID-19, you may have asked your clients to arrive a little early for their first appointment to give them some time to fill out a registration form, take vital contact details and perhaps take a minute to chat and get a bit of background information before you start your first treatment. In order to minimise unnecessary time spent in clinic, you might want to consider the potential of moving initial assessments online. Using telehealth features it’s easy to connect with your patients face to face, virtually! If initial assessments need to be conducted in person, could you consider an online follow-up appointment instead?

 

How to prepare and adapt

  • Using custom forms

Using custom forms is a quick and efficient way of recording and regulating data. The perfect tool for telephone appointments or client registration. Design your own custom forms and use your templates during video consultations to minimise the amount of data input you have to do and maximise your focus on the client.

Check out our custom forms designer guide for help putting your own forms together.

  • Video consultations

In April of this year, PPS introduced a telehealth integration with Whereby, enabling you to conduct video consultations with your clients via PPS or PPS Express. Video consultations can be launched from the consultation window with the touch of a button. PPS will send an email invitation to your client asking them to join you online and your client can easily and securely connect with you with just one click, no registration or sign in needed!

Take a look at our guides on using video consultations in PPS and PPS Express to get started.

 

Consideration: Keeping contact information up to date

Keeping contact information up to date has never been so vital, with fewer real-life encounters you will want to ensure that you have the ability to reach your clients when necessary. Newsletters, telephone calls, emails, booking confirmations and reminders all rely on the integrity of your client data.

 

How to prepare and adapt

  • Identifying clients with missing contact details

Invest some time into improving your data by updating your client contact information. Run a simple report to identify all clients who are missing vital contact details and use that data to get in touch with clients where possible to update your records.

 

Consideration: Relaxing cancellation policies

If you employ a late cancellation policy for last-minute changes to appointments or no shows, you might want to consider adjusting the cancellation window and rethinking any charges incurred. Relaxing your cancellation policies gives you and your clients extra breathing room to make the right decisions on their health and attending appointments.

 

How to prepare and adapt

  • Updating your DNA settings

Follow our guide on DNA reasons and charges to update your cancellation procedures.

 

Maintaining safety measures

As you get back into practice, some of the new procedures will eventually become the norm. To continue to maintain safety measures in your clinic, you could also consider assigning one practitioner to handle clients in the ‘high/at risk’ category with additional protective measures in place to minimise potential exposure. Make sure to set review days for medical history forms to keep the information up to date and run regular reports on DNA’s to keep track of how many clients have been unable to attend due to COVID-19.

 

4.Staff safety

 

On returning to practice, it will be vital to consider the new safety measures you will need to have in place in order to protect staff.

 

Consideration: PPE may be required in some circumstances

No doubt you will already have received some advice and guidance from your society or governing body on what PPE you might need, where you can get it and how to use it. DIfferent PPE will be needed for different procedures and you will need to ensure that you keep up supplies.

 

How to prepare and adapt

  • Stock management

Use the stock management system in PPS to record the purchase, movement and use of your PPE. Make sure to record the details of your supplier and any batch numbers and expiry dates so that you can safely use your equipment when needed. Set alerts so that you can re-order some more stock when you reach a minimum level.

Follow our guide on using the stock features in PPS to manage your PPE supply. Check out our stock reports guide to keep track of your stock levels.

 

Consideration: Keeping up with changing regulations and notifying colleagues

As our government’s knowledge and experience with this pandemic continues to evolve, so too will the advice being given. It will be important to keep yourself informed and your staff appraised of any changes that you may need to undertake in practice as a result of changing government advice.

 

How to prepare and adapt

  • Internal messages

Use internal messages in PPS to send notifications to your staff of any changes to procedures, hygiene measures and safety protocol in response to government regulations.

 

Consideration: Assigning treatment rooms.

Much like the government’s suggestion to prevent ‘hot-desking’ you may want to consider assigning staff members to a particular treatment room in the clinic where possible. 

 

How to prepare and adapt

  • Room availability

Assign a room to each practitioner when you are setting up their diary availability. Follow this guide on setting up availability.

 

Maintaining safety measures

When it comes to ensuring that your staff have the correct PPE use diary occupancy reports to keep track of staff availability and treatment times so that you can plan ahead and allocate PPE provisions accordingly.

 

5.Opening back up

 

PPS ‘health check’

If your practice has been closed temporarily during the pandemic, on returning to the clinic and firing up PPS again, there are a couple of checks you should carry out to make sure you can pick up where you left off.

 

Syncing

If you have a PPS sync system you will need to make sure that sync is running. Follow our guide on using PPS Sync server here.

 

Database maintenance and software updates

If you are logging in to PPS for the first time in a while, there may be software updates available. To make sure that you are using the latest version of PPS, follow this guide on updating PPS.

Don’t forget to reindex after installing any updates to keep your database healthy!

 

Catching up

Whilst you have been away some of your scheduled activities may not have been taken care of. Make sure you manage your activities appropriately by checking anything outstanding in your activities list. You can also check on activities on behalf of your colleagues if you are taking a staged approach to returning to work. 

Follow this guide on managing your activities.

 

Ongoing

With the potential for this pandemic to last a while longer yet, it will be important to continue to maintain social distancing measures and minimise the spread where possible. Thousands of people across the country have proven it is possible to work from home, which may shape the way in which we operate moving forward even after this is all over.

Make sure that you have access to your PPS database from wherever you are by ensuring you have your remote connections set up across your devices.

Follow our guides on setting up you remote desktop access:

On a PC

On a Mac

On an Android tablet or smartphone

On an iPad or iPhone

 

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