Due to the fast-paced updates and changes to policies regarding COVID-19, this article may include some outdated information. For more recent information, please visit our COVID-19 support and resources page.

Alright, so it’s possible the title of this article is a little on the dramatic side. But let’s face it, the COVID-19 pandemic has left us all in a situation where we need to work out a critical response plan.

Whether you are planning to continue operating your practice in a face-to-face environment (still an option for some at the time of writing) or make the transition to telehealth, you will need a plan to stay on track. We have collected some suggestions in this blog to help point you in the right direction. Let’s dive in and explore some of the things you might consider.


Staying open?

If you run an Allied Health Private Practice then the chances are fairly good that, at least for now, you can remain operating a physical “bricks and mortar” business. If you are in this category, then there are some things you might want to consider from a risk mitigation perspective:


#1. Split up your team

  • Try to break your practitioner and support staff into 2 or more teams
  • Make sure that the teams don’t cross paths either professionally or socially
  • Don’t let team members “float” between teams
  • Make sure that the premises is thoroughly cleaned in between team shifts

COVID-19 is spreading with unprecedented speed so the primary benefit here is that in the event a team member is medically compromised, you have an entire team to fall back on. The downside as a practice owner is that there will be at least one team you should not have any face-to-face contact with.


#2. No more waiting room

In order minimise the chances of infection via waiting room:

  • On the day of the appointment, SMS the client to ensure they do not arrive early
  • Make sure you run all sessions on time and keep to the session duration limit
  • Advise clients to wait at the practice door until you come and collect them
  • If they arrive early, suggest they wait in their car
  • Practitioners should escort departing and entering clients through the door themselves; ensuring only the practitioners touch any door handles
  • In the SMS, remind them to bring their own water
  • If they don’t bring their own water, only use disposable cups


#3. Check for updates

This is new territory for all of us. Check with the relevant authorities and stay on top of updates. Be prepared to change your plans accordingly and seek help and advice as needed.


What are my telehealth options?

If you have decided (or have been forced to) operate remotely then you need to consider how you will best deliver treatment via telehealth. There are some key things to consider if you haven’t done this before.


#1. Select a platform

There are a number of compliant options you can explore, and they all have affordable access plans. The three most popular are Coviu, Doxy.me and Zoom. Plans start from $0 and range up from there, depending on your needs.


#2. Consider your background

Try and keep the experience as authentic and normal as possible. For example, if you are a psychologist and clients are used to finding you in your rooms, then having the kitchen sink as your backdrop is not ideal. Try to keep your surrounding professional and relatable, but not distracting.


#3. Consider your lighting

Even high quality (and price point) laptops have cameras that don’t do so well in low light. It makes the client feel like they’re talking into a black hole, which is obviously less than ideal.

Try to position a lamp near your laptop but out of the camera view. This way you will have a good light spill on your face without camera flaring. If that doesn’t work, you can buy a small light that fits on your laptop. Try Amazon for cheap solutions and quick delivery.


#4. Consider the sound/noise

Most Allied Health appointments are going to require privacy. This means it is best to use a headset connected to your laptop. If you use a Mac, chances are you have AirPods or a plugin headset already. You don’t need to break the bank on this solution either. Make sure you have a solid working microphone and comfortable earbuds – the days could well be long. If you are going with a Bluetooth solution, remember to keep them charged.


#5. Other people at home

Well this is going to be tough, but if you have other people in the house remember you have privacy obligations to your client or patient. You’ll need to ensure that the other people in the house observe and respect those obligations.


General business support

There are a range of support options available for small and medium businesses, if they meet the criteria. At the time of publication, there are already substantial PAYG incentives available, mortgage reduction options, personal stimulus packages and so on. They are changing and being added to by the day; there has never been a more critical time to establish regular contact with your advisors, ensuring you are doing everything you can to survive and thrive in the current environment.

The challenge with the business support funding is that it is, at least in part, dependent on a “trickle down” effect. The idea is that these support measures will help keep your business going and keep your teams in place. Each business is going to have individual needs, as will the team members within it. It’s important to think through what is best for you, the business and your team.


A final thought

The landscape is changing almost by the hour. Information is your best bet to survive through the COVID-19 pandemic. Most of us are in the same boat and if that boat had a name, it would be “Uncertainty”.

Use the resources you have, seek the support and advice you need, and to borrow a quote from a dear friend of mine, “if you can choose to be something, choose to be kind”. Whatever happens, the sun is coming up tomorrow.