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How a Paper-Based Podiatry Practice went Digital after 37 Years

“You don’t realise how good Power Diary is going to be until you try it.”

Denise Setton,
Denise Setton Podiatry

Denise’s bubbly personality belies her big heart and evident care for her clients. This is particularly impressive when you consider that she has been practising as a podiatrist for 40 years! When people ask if she gets tired of looking at people’s feet all day, she replies that “The feet might be the same, but the people are really fascinating.”

For Denise, she can think of no better career. She describes herself as a people-person who likes to work with her hands. A career in podiatry has also allowed her the freedom to do life on her own terms. When her children were young, she’d work school hours and block off her calendar for school holidays, and by the time they were in secondary school, she was working full-time again. She’s always kept an element of private practice, but at different times has found herself working in public health, private hospitals, community health and more.

She takes visible joy in the role that she plays in helping others and is full to the brim with interesting stories and anecdotes from her home visits across Melbourne. From beloved dead budgies (which she had to dispose of) to war veterans, and even a well-off older client who had never gone beyond the city limits, Denise has seen it all!

But, after 37 years in private practice, what prompted the shift to using practice management software? Denise moved on to Power Diary about two and a half years ago after chatting to a (more technologically-minded) friend about the frustrations of working as a solo practitioner where you are responsible for doing all your own admin – from booking in clients to following up on outstanding payments. As Denise says,

“I was spending all my time doing paper accounts and chasing up with people who owed me money, and it was driving me mad”.

When her friend heard this, she encouraged the move to practice management software and, along the way, Denise came across Power Diary. “It’s a great option for solo practitioners as you pay per user, and there’s only one of me!”

Having made the decision to embrace the software, she did a deep dive into Power Diary: “The software was all new to me. I spend my days working with my hands, not sitting behind a computer. But, despite that, I quickly grasped the basics and haven’t looked back. It’s helped me a lot.”

Since then, Denise has found ways to make the software work for her specific needs. “A few days ago, I had a ten-minute gap between patients. I spent the time reviewing my outstandings using the reporting option in Power Diary, then following up with clients for payment. In those ten minutes, I was able to catch up with my paperwork. It was all done. So much simpler and streamlined.”

She has been using the software in conjunction with Tyro to take payments over the phone. Often the clients that Denise sees are in-home visits which are settled at a later date. Now, instead of chasing down payments, clients can give her their credit card number over the phone. Using Tyro, the payment is processed, and Tyro does the Medicare claim on behalf of the patient. Many of her clients are older, and this option is easier especially as there is no longer an option to go into a Medicare office in-person.

Denise puts it like this,

“I know that there’s much more I can do with the software. You don’t realise how good Power Diary is going to be until you try it.”

“I use it on my desktop, I have it on my tablet for when I see clients, and I have it on my phone. There are things you can do in Power Diary that you didn’t even know you needed, like statistics and reports. Even physical paperwork doesn’t need to be printed anymore; it can rather be stored in the cloud.”

“I spend much less time doing admin and chasing outstandings has become a lot easier. Creating printed bills in the past used to take much longer, and somehow an email gets a much quicker response. And I don’t have to go to the bank every week anymore to deposit cash because most payments are handled online.”

Denise highlights how useful the SMS appointment reminders have been during COVID. “We’re required to check that clients have not had exposure or potential exposure to COVID. I simply amended my SMS reminder requesting clients to cancel if they had been exposed and to please wear a mask for their appointment. I didn’t have to do all the screening and follow-up over the phone. These automations also empower the client. They can make the decision for themselves, and it’s as easy as sending a text if you need to cancel an appointment.”

Also with COVID, Denise used the software to look at who needed follow-ups. “I could never have done that if I was working with paper. I’d have looked at the task and the mountain of cards and client information I would have had to work through, and I know that it would have been too time-consuming.”

And her advice for podiatrists who are at the start of their career? There are three main areas that Denise highlights. First, building up a client base. Denise’s clients are all word-of-mouth and referrals from doctors. Clients tell their friends and neighbours and, for her, those are the best referrals. As Denise says, “I think advertising is a complete waste of time. At the beginning of my career, I tried it and got zero results, and since then I haven’t spent a cent on advertising.” Instead, Denise has focused on networking with local doctors and specialists and, because she’s working in public and private hospitals, she’s met referrers from all different areas.

Second, being a team player. Her advice is to take a holistic approach and show doctors that you care about the person. Denise frames her role in the health journey of her clients like this; “It’s a team effort in the community. I always go above and beyond and always try to get to know the person I’m treating. Young practitioners see their role as measuring things and recording statistics, but they’re not looking at the whole person, and that makes all the difference”.

Third, seeing the bigger picture. I’ve had an enriching career with 40 years of hearing people from all walks of life share their stories, and I’ve been privileged to have insights into so many different people. Her advice is, “listen to your clients; people need to be heard. You might be the catalyst that allows a client to move out of a difficult situation or be able to provide the information they need to get help. From elder abuse to toxic relationships, it’s happening all around us. But you won’t ever know if you aren’t really listening.”

Denise finishes by saying;

“I couldn’t think of something else that I’d rather be doing. I’ve been very happy with my career choice as a podiatrist.”

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