Dealing with lockdown as a chiropractic clinic owner
Kerri Stone talks about the challenges and opportunities of changes to her working life during lockdown
30.06.20 Registrant Blog
Kerri Stone is chiropractor and owner of Stockton Chiropractic Clinic
I am a chiropractic clinic owner and change is a constant part of the profession - you adapt to whatever life throws at you. But while these last few months have been super challenging, some great things have come out of this lockdown period, including the introduction of telehealth services into our practice.
When lockdown began, we made the decision to close all of our face-to-face appointments. At first, it felt like chaos as, like everyone around us, we grappled with huge changes to our working lives in the midst of widespread uncertainty about what was to come next. But running like a golden thread through it all was the question ‘what is best for the patients?’ I found that if I asked myself that question, it became easier to make the right choices.
Thanks to the encouragement of several awesome colleagues who provided free webinars and connection opportunities (a massive thank you to those fabulous individuals – you know who you are!) we decided to set up a telehealth service to continue to help our patients despite lockdown restrictions.
To prepare ourselves, we did a lot of research and watched as many relevant webinars as possible. The paperwork and processes were developed, and within a few weeks, we were ready to start our telehealth service. There were questions from patients about it - how could this help them? They were a little dubious, and to be honest, so were we. However, so much of what we chiropractors do has nothing to do with the hands-on stuff. We take a thorough history, we conduct an examination, we work out what is going on, we explain things, we reassure the patient, we provide advice on what they can do to help themselves. This experience has cemented for me how important those skills are.
To begin with, the appointments were exhausting. Trying to work out how to do all the orthopaedic tests remotely, thinking on your feet about which exercises would help, getting a sense of who your patient was remotely – it was all such a challenge, but an enjoyable one. It quickly proved to be clinically effective too: objective outcome measurements clearly showed the benefit of what we were doing and feedback from patients was overwhelmingly positive. As time went on and we got more confident, results were sometimes astonishing, and we were also able to identify patients with red flags and refer them appropriately as well as reaching patients who were further away geographically.
Our telehealth experience meant it was relatively easy to integrate it into our ‘new normal’ when we re-opened in mid-June. We have been able to conduct all initial new patient assessments online which reduces footfall to the clinic, increases capacity and decreases infection risk. We are still managing clinically vulnerable patients online if the risk assessment does not support an in-clinic appointment. Going through this process has drastically improved our ability to think on our feet, polished our rehab skills and reinforced the incredible value of increasing patient’s self-efficacy. It also highlighted for me the collaborative and supportive nature of members of our amazing profession.
I see telehealth as a permanent feature in my clinic’s services to patients going forwards and I believe it could prove a valuable skill in our profession’s armoury. I would encourage anyone thinking about it – chiropractors to give telehealth a go.