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What does the future look like for successful Physical Therapy Practices? Answer: Diversification.

If your practice has found itself thrown into work from home and telehealth, don't forget to be mindful of HIPAA. Some basics will go a long way.

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There are going to be lasting changes

Many PT practices are facing continuing challenges as a result of COVID-19. COVID-19 is unprecedented in modern times and has opened up deep self-reflection about the state of outpatient physical therapy practices. There are so many things to consider clinically, operationally, and, of course from a business perspective.

Diversification 1: Telehealth

Remember when you pulled that router out of the box and set it up? Hopefully you set up a password for it. If you did and your router is relatively new - you're probably doing fine. If your router is very old or you have no password needed to log into your wifi network then now is a good time to get that done. The latest standard is still WPA2 (Wi-Fi Protected Access 2). It's been out for quite some time and is the default on most routers; so, unless your router is ancient, you should be fine.

If you can't remember how to check your router setup then you may have to reset it and set it up again. Just don't do think when you have only 10 minutes to your next telehealth visit.

Diversification 2: Patients Sources

To the extent possible, conduct visits and calls from a private room. This is not just a good idea from a professional standpoint but can ensure that these conversations are not necessarily overheard by others.

Diversification 3: Services Offered

These days most folks have a cell phone so you're typically contacting a patient directly if you are calling by phone, but don't assume this is always the case. When the phone is answered make sure to take a moment to verify that you're speaking to the actual patient directly prior to offering any details about visits or care.

Diversification 4: Insurance Mix

Many web-browsers offer you the ability to save passwords as a convenience. Don't be tempted. Keep your password in mind, where it belongs. If you've saved a password for your EMR in the past, change it to something new and clear out any saved passwords.

While you're at it, it's a good idea to have a password for your computer or tablet as well.

Diversification 5: Types of Patient

When you're at your practice, you likely have a setup for shredding of documents including a shredder and a location to place paper that is ready to be shredded. You may or may not have a shredder at home so it's a good idea to avoid printing. It's a good time to work on screen only.

Diversification 6: Business Operations

Computers, tablets, etc. all have updates from time to time. These new updates can give you new features but may also contain security updates, too. Make sure your computer is up to date. Most computers and devices can install updates automatically, overnight. That's always a convenient way to do it.

By extension, don't forget to stay off of outdated devices that are no longer receiving updates. For example, Windows 7 updates were discontinued recently. That means, by definition, a computer running Windows 7 can no longer be HIPAA compliant.

Last but not least, web browsers are also updated regularly. Most do it automatically but make sure you're accepting those updates.

The Bottom Line

If you find yourself in the new world of working entirely from home and aren't used to it, just keep HIPAA basics in mind and you can keep on track in this dynamic new environment.

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