The unprecedented pandemic the world currently faces is, for many, scary. I’ve heard of practices shutting their doors, with other health professionals fearful of the possible diminishing income brought by absent, worried patients.
Yet you, my friend, might be the lifeline your patients need. Your insights and advice can bring calm and understanding, a way through the panic and the unknown. Now is the time to step up. To expand your possibilities and support your community, while keeping yourself and your family safe. But before we discuss exactly how, there are, as I see it, four possible options:
- One: continue to practice, where allowed, ensuring that you follow all guidelines and keep yourself and your patients safe.
- Two: close your doors and aim to ignore the outside world.
- Three: take your practice and products online.
- Four: work on your business instead of in it. The latter is normally ignored, sacrificed in the day-to-day workings of patient consultations, paperwork and other priorities. If you are at home, now is the ideal moment to enact choices number three and four. It is rare to have such an intensive timeout; make the most of it.
Now, let’s discuss each point a bit further.
1) Remain Open, Safely Serving Your Community
This pandemic does not mitigate other health issues. People will still hurt their backs, fracture teeth, experience unbearable headaches, painful periods, fatigue. The list is long. Some health issues may rise in frequency, like those related to stress and mental illness. If you choose to responsibly keep your doors open and your city/state laws allow it, you are serving patients, taking the pressure off the overburdened mainstream health system, and may find yourself busy as other practices close their doors.
2) Close Your Doors and Hibernate
Let me gently address choice two. If you choose to close your doors and find it difficult to deal with the pandemic outside, show yourself the incredible kindness you do to your patients. Use this period for self-love and rejuvenation.
You can do this by:
- practicing meditation, mindfulness, & deep breathing
- eating healthy, staying hydrated, and taking supplements if needed
- prioritizing sufficient sleep
- reaching out online, on the phone, or to someone self-distancing with you if you need support
And remember, self-distancing doesn’t mean self-isolation.
3) Take Your Practice and Products Online
Pandemic or not, living with interruptive physical discomfort is a motivating factor for your patients to have online appointments with you. I can confirm this from personal experience. How can you, in your areas of expertise, support this demographic in a digital world?
Take your practice and products online. A Deloitte Insights report noted that:
They also found something not particularly surprising, that I feel is relevant to our current climate:
Those with chronic health issues, especially significant ones, were the happiest digital patients. As someone who lives with chronic pain, the benefits of not needing to travel or sit in a waiting room are profound. Coronavirus has many people rattled. Going online, in the safety of their homes, may well increase your patients’ desires for this style of consultation.
However, the report also found that:This highlights the need to focus on ensuring that the virtual environment is engaging, rewarding and inclusive while maintaining professionalism and rapport. It also emphasizes the importance of supporting your patients’ mental wellbeing and ensuring that they feel comfortable in a virtual session.
Even if you think, hey Bec, that’s impossible! I can’t adjust, insert needles, or massage during this time, take a moment. Ask yourself: What exactly do you do in practice? How else do you serve your patients?
When I was still practicing, I performed assessments. I gave nutrition and lifestyle advice. I recommended stretches. These can be, in large part, performed online. Yes, coronavirus may require creative thinking, but it can be done.
Let’s consider an online example. After taking a thorough history, imagine your main differential diagnosis is a lumbar disc herniation. Ask your patient to sit where you can fully see them. Observe. You might provide instructions on how to perform a straight leg raise or Valsalva maneuver, and ask them to move from a sitting to standing position and back again.
Many households have a thermometer, so you may ask them to take their temperature and report their reading to help eliminate an infection. Once you have determined the likely cause, you can decide on the best next step. Do they need a referral? Can you instruct them on the natural history, exercises and approaches to reduce their symptomatic picture, and explain their options? Perfect!
TIP: To effectively practice this way, known as Telehealth, I’d recommend you harness the power of a platform designed specifically for this. The sooner you move online, the more secure your patient base and profits. Fiizio has, as their site says, “An entire ecosystem of growth creating applets and features built to provide better outcomes for all — and finally align revenues with practice growth and better client outcomes.”
It enables you to use video capabilities, recommend exercises, track progress, conduct online consultations, get paid, and more. They are perfectly designed to meet your current needs. You can sign up for free here.
What else do — or could — you do online?
Think broadly. What problems can you resolve online, and what unique challenges does this pandemic cause that you can solve?
This time is greatly stressful for many. Meditation and life coaching are wonderful tools for calming heightened psychological strain. If this is your niche, or one you can sufficiently learn, take online consultations or run classes. Skype, Zoom and a Telehealth provider like Fiizio are already available to hasten your transition.
Maybe you have an interest in assisting patients with weight loss? This industry is always booming, but the current pandemic may spur growth further. Media reports have announced links between a higher risk of serious complications of covid-19 and obesity.
Regardless of whether this is true, people appear keen to now take action. For many secluded at home, it is also an opportunity to focus on a problem that can be hard to manage in the daily hustle and bustle of normal life. Help them by conducting online group or individual workouts, or run a weight loss program.
Teach your tribe how to improve their wellbeing, including how to strengthen the immune system.
What products can you sell online?
In conjunction with online classes and consultations, you reside in the health space. There are many products that can support current patients and assist new customers.
If we consider the weight loss industry, exercise equipment, supplements, food, recipe books, journals are also relevant and sellable items.
To assist your patients with pain, think supports, heat and ice packs, and rehabilitation supplies. I love evidence-based pain relief rubs, creams and oils like those available from CBD CLINIC™.
CBD CLINIC has also launched a Support Package for Health and Wellness Professionals to assist practitioners during the coronavirus pandemic. It enables your clients to get the products they need dropshipped directly to them and helps support your business, as well.
4) Work On Your Practice
The final option is to use this strange bubble in time to work on your practice rather than in it. This will place you out in front when the regular world recommences.
Take continuing education courses
Is there an area you’d like to learn in greater detail? Harness this downtime to expand your knowledge. Unsurprisingly, there are many available online. For example:
- Check out the 450 free Ivy League university courses you can take online for inspiration!
- Sign up for a LinkedIn Learning course. Try your hand at marketing, perfect your writing for blogs, LinkedIn and social media posts, or understand how you can better support the mental health of your practice team.
- Coursera offers courses, certificates and degrees online. From entrepreneurship to business strategies, nutrition to psychology, public health to philosophy, there’s a good chance you’ll find a quality option here.
Catch up on administrative tasks
Administrative duties such as filing papers, insurance reports, and SOAP notes can all be brought up-to-date.
Other administrative tasks include:
- Expanding your digital network: LinkedIn and Facebook have specific networking groups set up for professionals, just like you. Check out CBD CLINIC’s professional Facebook group here. Additionally, consider expanding your digital network by building mutually beneficial relationships to increase referrals and income. Get engaged!
- Devising or updating your marketing strategy: It’s important, crucial in fact, to learn how to effectively market your practice. And I’d like to (maybe) switch your thinking on marketing: It is NOT a dirty word. You cannot help people who either don’t know you exist or lack sufficient trust that you can help them. That means people needlessly suffer.
When I was practicing, I had a thriving, in-practice community, filled with happiness and respect. I also tripled my patient numbers and income, while working as an associate! It’s not terribly hard, but it does take planning and action. Now is the perfect time to learn about and implement strategies, particularly if you’re following choice three or four.
In my book, Prosper In Practice, I outline the simple, ethical approaches you can use to reach more people, create a greater impact, and propel your profits. I’ve organized a complimentary copy for you so you can make the most of this time and help secure your short and long-term future. You can download your free copy here.
The coronavirus is impacting the world in unforeseen ways, with unimaginable consequences. Yet your skills as a health professional are needed now, more than ever. If you decide to take up the challenge in the midst of this pandemic, you might forever transform your business, your practice, for the better. This is my challenge to you. Are you ready?
Dr. Rebecca Harwin
Chiropractor and bestselling writer
Author of Prosper In Practice