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Physiotherapist transitions from being a ‘paper-girl’ to having systems for everything

Allison describes herself as ‘very non-technical’ but bit by bit, she has levelled-up her practice to be more automated, streamlined and professional.

Allison Wheatley, Byford Physiotherapy

When Allison relocated to a semi-rural area with young children in tow, she never imagined she’d be opening up her own physiotherapy practice – but that’s exactly what happened. Not long after she and her family moved, one of the local GP’s contacted her and said they were “desperate for physios”.

Allison had trained many years previously and worked both in hospitals and then private practice with some great clinics that she said served as role models for her future path. Although she wasn’t sure about starting her own practice, it wasn’t long before her one-woman clinic was ‘flat out’.

With a post-graduate degree in sports physiotherapy, Allison focuses mainly on muscular-skeletal physio and works closely with an orthopaedic surgeon to rehabilitate his clients. She also has a lot of elderly clients and says her prior experience in the dementia ward of a hospital gave her a great affinity for these patients and connection for this work.

Before even opening her doors, Allison decided to use Power Diary as her practice management system, based mainly on a recommendation from a colleague. Although this was more than 5 years ago now, she remembers thinking that the “interface looked easy to navigate” and she felt comfortable with how all the components fit together. In fact, she now says:

“Power Diary helped my brain work out how to run the practice!”

“The biggest thing about Power Diary is how it helps manage my life so much better – both personal and work. I live on 5 acres so can be out in the field. But when my phone rings, I have everything at my fingertips and I can change appointments easily. It makes me feel like my life is well managed and under control.”

Allison loves the portability of Power Diary which is important to her as she’s often doing home visits and running hydrotherapy sessions at the local swimming pool. She also appreciates that it allows her to work from home when needed.

“If I’ve had a big day, without Power Diary, I would have had to stay later to write up my notes. Now I can easily catch up in the evening, on my couch with a cup of tea.”

Allison also relies on text messaging to communicate with clients – no-doubt contributing to the loyalty of her client-base. “I’ll send them a quick message saying something like; ‘Hope you’re ok now,’ or they’ll message saying they’ve forgotten which exercises they’re supposed to do. Or sometimes, I’ll be thinking about a client and might do some extra research so I’ll message them with some more instructions. Showing you care with these little bits of communication is how you create your base of clients.”

Speaking of prescribing exercises, Allison also uses the Physitrack integration with Power Diary. Although she admits to being nervous about getting the technology working at first, she took some time to practice with friends and family until she was comfortable and now has it working really well.

“Instead of me drawing stick figures and handwriting everything, I now have all the exercises I need in video form that I can easily send to clients. For a few clients, I’ll print them off, but for most people, I just assign them a code and they get the Physitrack exercises as video. It makes a big difference to the results they see.”

Allison has also been transitioning from handwriting her notes to online notes. “It’s so much better with no filing to do, no paper usage, and it’s always right in front of you. I’ve realised that my typo’s don’t matter – usually, I make the same mistakes each time so I can always read it! I’m getting used to talking and typing at the same time. The best part is that if a client rings, even if I’m out of the clinic or on the farm, I can quickly access their notes and see where they’re at and what’s happening for them.”

Allison describes herself as “very non-technical”, but also says she is gaining confidence as she steps forward into the electronic world. In fact, just recently she had a productive day and posted online:

“I had so much fun creating a form today. So easy to use and set up your own forms. Huge thanks. This downtime has allowed me to really develop some areas of my practice that seriously needed an overhaul!”

She was referring to Power Diary’s new Online Forms feature and the downtime during the Coronavirus isolation. When we asked her more about what she had done, she said: “I just tried using the new client intake forms and emailed it to two new clients – the feedback has been amazing.”

But that’s not all Allison has done with her downtime… She explained that her website has been a big bugbear for years and she was frustrated that she’d spent 100’s of hours working on it but (in her view) had failed to get it right. During the last few weeks, she finally took the plunge and hired a web developer to help create a simple, but professional looking website. She’s now integrated the Power Diary client portal and says she’s amazed to see online bookings coming through at 10 pm at night!

When we asked Allison for her advice for physiotherapists getting started in private practice, she says that word-of-mouth referrals are a big key to success. In the early days, she would proactively pick up the phone and call the local GP’s and orthopaedic surgeons to introduce herself and explain her skillset.

“But also, having the right systems in place is essential for building a solid private practice. For me, that means Power Diary, Xero, and Physitrack. In fact, the systems also help you build word-of-mouth as I use the letter writer in Power Diary to thank them for their referrals and let them know what’s happening with the client’s they send me. It’s really easy as I have all my templates set up. You need a good structure for how you receive referrals and what happens with them.”

Allison believes Power Diary has been a big factor in helping her run a busy and successful clinic, while also balancing family life and personal time.

“I was such a ‘paper-girl’ before, but less and less now. Using Power Diary makes me feel like I’m cheating a bit. It almost seems naughty taking shortcuts, but it’s brilliant! It grows how I want it to grow, and all the little thing make life so much easier.”

She finished by saying:

“To me, Power Diary is laid out for you like a gourmet buffet dinner. You can take what you want when you start, and keep adding to your processes as you go. If you’re still using a paper system to manage your practice, you really need to move online. It’s transportable, helps you communicate better, and puts everything in one place for you – no matter where you are. And the support team is always there to help if you run into trouble.”

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