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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.

Harnessing the power of technology

Speaking at the Healthcare Innovation Expo 2013*, the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, outlined the way in which innovation is to be used to drive the NHS into a future where it is “freed from the shackles of top-down bureaucracy.”  Giving the online seat booking innovation which transformed the air industry as an example Mr Hunt bluntly stated that “while they innovated, we stagnated.”

In a speech which touched on the Francis Report, culture and values as well as regulation and systems Mr Hunt highlighted the care and compassion which is at the heart of our health services.  He also called for patients to be put in the health driving seat.

One of the key practices which the Health Secretary believes needs to be implemented to transform the health service is the move to electronic patient records.  Giving examples of ways in which patient care can be improved by the use of electronic records, Mr Hunt said that a paperless NHS will have “massive implications for improved patient safety, genuine patient empowerment and self-management as well as scientific research.”

Of course it is not just the NHS which will benefit from electronic records.  Health practitioners both within and outside the NHS can find that electronic records will make a sizeable difference to their working patterns.  For example, the Clinic Appointments patient records service is already helping practitioners to streamline their operations.

With patient notes, documentation and X-Rays all available at the touch of a button the health practitioner no longer has to spend time in filing or searching for records.  This means more time spent on patient care and less chance of errors creeping in if important documents are mis-filed.  Combined with the Clinic Appointments’ virtual receptionist and diary management services the secure patient records service helps every health practitioner from a sole practice to a multi-unit facility to provide a streamlined and efficient service.

Health services in the UK are going places and those who are at the forefront of innovation and streamlined technology will be best placed to make the most of the new vision.  Putting patients first, innovating, bringing fresh thinking to health care; all these are on the Government’s radar.  The Health Secretary closed his talk, as we do this article, with this quote from Bill Gates “Never before in history has innovation offered promise of so much to so many in so short a time.”


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