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Avoiding Après Ski Physiotherapy

Christmas is well and truly over; but with summer still a far away promise it could be time to pack the bags and swap the damp coldness of the UK for the crisp clear coldness of a ski resort. We are now well and truly into the ski season with plenty of snow around to delight the skiing senses.

However, whilst most will return unscathed from their assaults on the mountain trails sadly some will return rather more bandaged up than when they left. There have been reports that overenthusiastic indulgence in après ski is partly to blame but French ski resort physiotherapists are pointing the finger in an entirely different direction.

According to a report on the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy website, skiers just aren’t getting fit enough before they hit the slopes. The report quotes Val D’Isere physiotherapist Louise Allison who highlighted the way in which differing ski conditions can cause a range of injuries. So, for example, hard-packed icy snow can lead to back injuries whilst deep snow is more likely to lead to knee ligament problems.

The essential message from the report though is that if people take the time before they go on holiday to really get themselves fit then their chances of injury are lessened. And we’re not talking here about the odd hour in the gym; people should be looking to carry out a combination of strength, endurance and overall fitness training in order to prepare themselves for the intense level of exercise at altitude which skiing requires.

It’s a lesson which doesn’t just apply to ski fitness. The more we look forward and plan to avoid problems, the fitter we can be in the long run. This applies in business as much as it does in our private lives. As we’ve been quoting from a physiotherapy website, let’s take a physiotherapy practice as an example.

In common with other types of health practice, there is a constant demand for physiotherapy time. However, there are certain times of year, such as in the winter when demand increases further. It’s not just the snow; slippery pavements and poor driving conditions can also lead to a whole variety of calls for physiotherapy help. But by planning and preparing, in effect increasing the fitness of the practice, it is possible to ensure that patient treatment times are maximised whilst admin is kept to a manageable minimum.

That doesn’t mean that procedures are skimped, rather the practice has become more efficient. Take the maintenance of patient records for example. Having large filing cabinets stuffed with patient notes may look impressive but it is hardly conducive to efficient working. It’s all too easy to miss file records, not to mention the fact that when a patient moves between treatment centres there is a delay while records are also transferred. Electronically filing patient records means that not only are they instantly accessible from any designated point (subject to secure access), the chances of misfiling are lessened.

Or how about payment management? When patients pay for their treatment it is all too easy to become bogged down in the appointment, issue invoice, chase invoice, receive check, pay into bank rigmarole. All this takes time, something which health practices rarely have in abundance. The solution is to take card payment details at the time of the booking and then confirm the payment as soon as the appointment has taken place. This is quick, simple and saves considerable administration time.

In a 24/7 always on world it is too tempting to simply react to the moment, to take each challenge as it arrives. Planning and preparation can make a measurable difference to the outcome whether we are off skiing or faced with treating the injuries of those who have been out on the slopes.

Advancing Recovery through Electronic Filing of Medical Records

Not so long ago a broken hip would result in weeks or even months of hospitalisation as the bones were left to slowly knit together. Nowadays the broken hip is simply replaced, leading in many cases to discharge in a matter of days followed by recuperation at home.

Admittedly that recuperation requires the help of support services with physiotherapy and exercise advice being supplemented by aids such as walking frames but the new regime is far more effective and far better for the long term health of the patient. The patient is spared the challenge of being confined to bed for weeks and scarce hospital beds are freed up quickly.

But this new regime does bring with it the challenge of moving support services away from the hospital and in to the wider community.  Local health practitioners including physiotherapists are now seeing an increase in demand from patients who previously would have relied on in-hospital services. Depending on the health authority, those requiring rehabilitation and physiotherapy treatments may be offered outpatient appointments at a central or local hospital, treatment in local specialised centres or even home visits from mobility specialists. Whilst this range of options is designed to improve patient outcomes, it does require an increased focus on effective patient treatment plans and the sharing of information.

Luckily, whilst technological improvements have enabled swifter treatment of patients, they have also enabled health practitioners to remove some of the burden of non-essential tasks as well as streamlining data and information sharing. Take patient records for example.  Paperwork has been a perennial challenge for the health profession.   Countless hours which should have been spent in patient treatments have been wasted as records are transferred from one treatment centre to another or are stacked up on administrator’s desks whilst skilled typists struggle to interpret scribbled notes.

Even simply filing and retrieving records can take up time which would be better spent in focusing on patient needs whilst the mobility of patients around treatment centres has increased the danger of patients being lost in the system. Now, thanks to the advent of electronic filing, much of the unproductive time is no longer wasted.  Electronic filing not only reduces instances of mis-filing, it also enables records to be transferred between treatment centres and then brought to hand swiftly as and when required.

With clinical notes organised and important test results and x-rays available on screen at the touch of a button, health practitioners can not only maximise patient treatment times, they can start treatment programmes in a timely manner without having to wait for records to be transferred by post or hand delivered.  Link in online diary management or on-line booking services and yet more time which was previously spent on administration is freed up.

Such is the pace of technological change that medical breakthroughs are coming thick and fast, transforming health services and enabling patients to recuperate at home where once they blocked beds.  With administration also reduced thanks to technology, the face of the health service in years to come will be a very different one from that which in the past was bedevilled by paperwork and the delays and frustrations occasioned by filing, retrieving and transporting patient records.

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