By Geraldine Headley
When life dishes up a plot twist on the scale of a global pandemic, we have to get creative! Converting to a digital practice has been a natural progression for many practitioners, however the idea of consulting online can be daunting and can raise a unique set of challenges.
Some practitioners may reason that online consulting defies the traditional principles and philosophies of natural medicine, those that set us apart from a more conventional medical system. These include having the time to cultivate therapeutic relationships, perform thorough physical examination, check vital signs, iris and tongue analysis and rapport building.
However, in a time where many manual practitioners have lost clients, income, businesses and clinics, those of us with a modality that can be practiced virtually are fortunate to have the option of pivoting into the online space.
Pandemics aside, running a successful online practice affords other benefits. Imagine simply picking up your laptop and taking your clinic with you, enabling complete location independence. From greater work-life balance to reducing expenses and commute times, consulting online offers a lot more than viral immunity!
So how do you actually run an online clinical practice?
The logistics to setting up online is surprisingly simple. You’ll need:
- A way for clients to book in
- A client management system for securely storing patient information
- A virtual meeting room for consultations to take place
- A system for prescribing remedies
- A way for clients to pay you!
Practice management software
The key to making your online practice as simple as possible is to use software that takes care of your practice for you. One of the most popular client management systems is a program called SimpleClinic. SimpleClinic was designed with the needs of nutritionists and naturopaths in mind. It integrates easily with websites to enable clients to choose an appointment and pay on booking. SimpleClinic also integrates with Zoom video conferencing software, so that when a client books in, not only are they invoiced for their appointment, but they are also sent a confirmation email containing the unique meeting link for their consultation. The best part is that all of this is hands-free for you! You can modify your confirmation email to include instructions and trouble-shooting for Zoom use. Bookings and invoicing aside, SimpleClinic also has features that allow you to record notes, prescribe supplements, manage documents and more.
Alternative management systems to consider:
- Practice Better
Video conferencing software
Zoom conferencing software provides a platform for practitioners to meet with clients online. Zoom has recently had to step up their security and privacy features to meet the demand on their services, however there are other options and so do your due diligence and check that Zoom is right for your unique clinic. At the time of their appointment, the client simply follows their link and enters a virtual waiting room. You can then admit the client and begin the consultation. Given recent events, clients are more receptive than ever to online consultations and are more than happy to meet with you from their couch, car, bed or back garden!
Managing an online dispensary
If you are unwilling to relinquish your physical dispensary, you can still dispense your herbs and nutrients! Don’t forget to factor in the extra time required to package and mail prescriptions. If you don’t fancy becoming a regular at the post office, you could also explore courier services like Sendle, Officeworks Mailman, WizMe or E-Go. It is also worth remembering that until your products reach your client, they are your responsibility in the event that the products are damaged or don’t reach their destination. Keep meticulous notes regarding addresses, tracking numbers and shipping dates. If you do use SimpleClinic, you can formulate your prescription and automatically outsource dispensing and delivery to Ariya which is an online prescription service that stocks a liquid herbal dispensary as well as common practitioner-only brands. Vital.ly is another online prescription service – you simply set up an account for your client which allows them access to their prescription so that they can purchase at their convenience and have their products delivered to their door.
Other options for prescriptions:
- Oborne Health Supplies Prescribe
- Rener Health Myscript Patient Online Billing
- Bioclinic Naturals Direct to Patient Ordering
- Natural Script
Virtual tech support
Let’s face it, at times technology can have you poised and ready to throw your computer out of the window. Even for the more tech-savvy practitioners, there are elements to the digital world that remain a complete mystery. Luckily there are a number of highly gifted practitioners who are at your disposal when it comes to sorting out glitches, websites, copy and code!
Some of our online favourites:
- Belinda Leskiw supports practitioners to ban the burnout with efficient operational systems and structure for your business. Bel provides holistic business mentoring as well as tech support for WordPress and Mailchimp. Find her at https://holisticbusiness.com.au
- Shonelle Siegmann is the mind behind ‘Tech for Pracs’ and can nut out niggly tech issues for you including, but not limited to, SquareSpace, WordPress and Wix websites. Shonelle also designs websites for natural health practitioners and can be contacted at https://www.techforpracs.com.au
- Lexie McPhee runs an online practice that attracts new clients through Instagram and her blog. Need blog articles but don’t have the time or desire to write them? Lexie produces blogs for natural health practitioners and can cater to your niche and target audience. Send an enquiry at lexiemcphee.com/blogs-by-lexie or on Instagram at @clearskin.bylexie
- Victoria Heath manages Numbers for Health and can help you to understand the financial aspects of your online practice. As an accountant turned Naturopath, Victoria understands the needs of natural health practitioners and can help to streamline your bookkeeping, invoicing, tax, BAS and banking. Get in touch with her at https://www.numbersforhealth.com.au
- Katie Barron offers training and webinars in physical examination for online practitioners so that you can brush up on your skills and ensure the best duty of care for your clients. Learn more at https://katiebarron.com.au
- And if you’re not sure who to ask, where to look, or who is right for you then book yourself a focus call with me (Geraldine) to help you find the right fit for you! You might be a perfect fit for the 90 Day Program where we work together and you get the support you need. https://geraldineheadley.podia.com
Last but not least, don’t forget to check your insurance policy to ensure that you are covered for online consultations. It is also worthwhile checking whether there are any countries for which you are not covered, should you choose to accept international clients. Go forth and watch your practice prosper… digitally!