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A pain in the back….

There’s no escaping back pain. A sore back can not only affect neck and limbs as attempts to get comfy result in collateral pain elsewhere, it can also lead to headaches and depression as painful movement hampers and frustrates efforts to get on with daily life.

In the past treatments for back pain were largely along the lines of taking to bed with a few painkillers in the hope that the pain would ease. Nowadays the thinking is very much more along the lines of staying active; with the NHS choices website recommending a series of stretching exercises alongside gentle activities such as walking, cycling or water-based activities.

As with any other pain the temptation for those suffering from a bad back has still been to head for the pill box in a bid to feel more comfortable. However, a peer review has thrown up questions about the efficacy of taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for back pain. The review concluded that taking NSAIDs was little better than taking a placebo with only one in six patients receiving any benefit from NSAID treatment. In addition, those patients who took the anti-inflammatory drugs were at a higher risk of gastrointestinal upset; perhaps the last thing which someone would want when already suffering from back pain!

The researchers concluded that there was an urgent need to develop analgesics which were more effective in treating back pain. However it would appear that more research is required as the peer review did not examine the efficacy or otherwise of exercise or direct interventions such as physiotherapy or chiropractic treatments. Certainly these are options to consider when looking to treat back pain as musculoskeletal professionals may be able to identify the root cause and suggest changes to posture or lifestyle which may help to speed up treatment and prevent re-occurrence.

Within the workplace too occupational therapists may also be able to suggest the best way for using equipment, or even sitting at a desk, which will optimise back health. For employers this is one area which should not be ignored as statistics from the health and safety executive indicate that in 2015/16 an estimated 8.8 million working days were lost due to work-related musculoskeletal disorders.

Work-related or not there is no doubt that back pain is something we can all do without, putting a strain not only on individuals and their families but also the health service as a whole. It’s one reason why health professionals are increasingly looking to find remedies which will help to relieve the strain on their own practices and maximise treatment times. For some, gentle remedies such as instituting online booking forms allied to automated appointment reminders have proved effective. Others have resorted to more intensive measures such as appointing virtual assistants or electronically filing patient records in a bid to reduce the strain on resources.

Whatever the remedy chosen, the more that health professionals are able to focus on working with patients to identify and treat the causes of back pain, the better it is not only for individuals but the country as a whole. With the study largely ruling NSAIDs out of the picture, the more we can focus on developing effective treatments, the quicker people will be able to get back to a pain-free lifestyle.



Smarter Payments

Its end has been long predicted but we may now be seeing the final death throes for the cheque as a means of payment. It’s not going to go quietly, after all the first cheque was recorded in 1659 and by 1717 the Bank of England pioneered pre-printed check forms, but it seems as though the inevitable is happening and the cheque is giving way to the march of technology.

In fact, it may not just be the cheque which is on its way out. Cash too is under threat as contactless and card payments rise in popularity. So much so, that a report from UK cards Association comments that ‘consumer spending has undergone a revolution in the past decade.’

Highlights of the report include the fact that in the ten years to 2014 card spending has risen from £270 billion to £566 billion with supermarkets, pubs and restaurants being among the key gainers. Interestingly, 71% of card transactions are now made using debit cards, a rise on the 58% seen in 2004 and an indication of the way in which we are increasingly looking to contactless payments as an alternative to cash. Speaking about the results Richard Koch, Head of Policy at The UK Cards Association, said “Cards are accepted in more places than ever before and with innovations such as contactless cards and digital wallets, this trend is sure to continue.”

Whilst high-street stores may be leading the way, the increased acceptance of cards as a means of payment benefits businesses across the board. For example, health professionals are increasingly looking to card payments as a means of settling treatment charges. Thanks to initiatives such as digital wallets and mobile payments which are supported by the card system, even sole practitioners can collect payments from their customers by card. And by using other initiatives such as the Clinic Appointments secure card payment processing system, health professionals and their customers can take advantage of a secure payment system linked to an online booking service.

Moving to a direct card payment system brings multiple benefits for patients and healthcare professionals alike. For a start, paying by card is quick and simple for patients; moving them away from the treatment/invoice/payment cycle which can be time-consuming and lead to confusion over payments due.

For the health practice, not only are card payments quicker, they can also lead to a smoothing out cash flow. But the ability to take payments by card can also help to ensure that clients who book treatments actually turn up for them. Taking card details at the point of booking enables health practices to charge a ‘no-show’ fee in accordance with their advertised procedures. And if clients know they will be charged even if they don’t turn up, they are more likely to ensure that their appointment is kept.

In fact, card payments are such a win-win scenario that the only real surprise is that they have as yet to be universally adopted by those health professionals such as physiotherapists and chiropractors who charge directly for their services.

Contact us today to discover how Clinic Appointments can help your clinic. Book your free demo call now to learn more.