Right now, telehealth is more important than ever. You can set up telehealth in your own Cliniko account to have video calls with your patients, and to help get started, we sat down with Karen Finnin, physiotherapist and owner of Online Physio, to chat all things telehealth.
Karen has been passionate about helping patients empower themselves through virtual appointments since 2011, which is when she opened Online Physio. “The outcomes are tending to be the same—if not better—online than they are in person,” she says. "Why is this? We’re empowering our patients to get themselves better.”
We’ve put together a list of tips and resources from Karen, and you can also watch her entire interview with Cliniko founder Joel below:
Karen's tips for getting started with telehealth
With years of experience as an online-based physiotherapist, Karen has amassed a good collection of tips and tricks for getting started in the world of telehealth! Below, we’ll share some of her key recommendations.
- Equipment: it doesn’t need to be fancy (or expensive!). As long as you have a decent camera, lighting, and background, you’re well on your way to having your first virtual appointment. Karen recommends keeping your camera at eye-level (no one likes looking up someone else’s nostrils), and she says that a neutral background is well-suited to video calls. Oh, and be sure that there’s no external noise—you want your patients to be able to hear you!
- Education: both your patients and your staff will need to be brought up to speed. Starting something new can be scary, but if you’ve done your research, you should be able to pitch this newfound way of offering appointments to everyone that needs to be involved—and get a positive reaction! (For example, telehealth offers an amazing level of flexibility, which is something everyone loves. Sing it from the mountaintops!)
- Taking payments: there are different ways that you can handle payments when it comes to telehealth. It can be as simple as having a Stripe or PayPal account set up that the patient transfers money to after the appointment; some practitioners prefer to take prepayments. It’s completely up to you!
- Video call software: Karen prefers cloud-based software for making video calls, because it’s easy to set up (and doesn’t require anyone to download anything). There are even some applications that integrate with Cliniko and make video conferencing a breeze. For example, Physitrack has built-in video functionality, as does Coviu. Karen includes instructions in the confirmation emails her patients get, and this makes it easy for them to access the call, right from their computer!
- Record-keeping: many video conference programs allow you to set up screen recording, so you can keep a record of the day’s session. You even upload the recordings into the patient’s file in Cliniko—that way, you always know where it is and can access it at any time.
- Following up: after all is said and done, you’ll want an easy way to follow up with the patients you see virtually. Karen uses Cliniko’s recall functionality for this, allowing her to get a quick look at who needs to be contacted, and when!
How Cliniko can help you get started with telehealth
There are a number of ways that you can utilise your Cliniko account to assist with setting up telehealth appointments! First and foremost, check out our overview of our telehealth works with Cliniko. It’ll help you to get started!
Karen also mentions a few different ways in the video shared above (for example, setting up appointment types with the word “online” in the title—it makes it easier to quickly spot which appointments are going to be online-based, versus face-to-face, when looking at your calendar!).
Cliniko’s support site has a couple of sections that you’ll probably find useful: the various guides to using telehealth, as well as the COVID-19 hub. The guides there could be used for virtually any telehealth setting (no pun intended—okay, well, kind of intended ). The below list will be updated as more guides get added, but for now, check out some of the different ways you can set up your Cliniko account to get telehealth-ready.
- Enable telehealth appointment types in your Cliniko account.
- Use online bookings to offer telehealth-specific appointments for your patients.
- Allow your patients to pay online for their telehealth consultations.
- Customise your confirmation email and reminder templates so that any that are for virtual appointments include instructions on how to access the video call and what to expect.
- Use the Mailchimp integration to send group emails to your patients. If you’re going to start offering online-based appointments in light of the COVID-19 situation, this would be a great way to inform everyone.
- Similarly, you can send a group SMS to all patients to let them know about any changes.
- Add extra information to your online bookings if you need patients to be aware of something while they’re selecting their appointment slot.
- Make use of SMS appointment reminders or email reminders—these can go out between 1 and 5 days prior to the appointment, and you can modify the templates if you need to share important information.
- Set up recall types specifically for COVID-19 or telehealth appointments—this way, it’ll be easy to keep track of who needs following up with!
As well as the COVID-19/telehealth hub on Cliniko’s support site, Karen has provided some great resources for getting started with telehealth. Check them out below.
- A helpful collection of telehealth journal articles that are physiotherapy-specific; Karen has collected these over the years.
- Karen also offers training and mentoring courses that will help you get up to speed!
If you have any pointers or resources about telehealth to share, let us know in the comments here—we’d love to hear them!