Technology and Apps spotted in Toronto

There are numerous articles around technology and how companies embrace change early doors making them robust and ready to face the future.  After visiting Toronto last month on a research trip we visited a number of business support and tech hubs which were buzzing with exciting new developments.

An explosion of entrepreneurs pushing their ideas and visions using smartphone technology, cloud-based apps and artificial intelligence is changing the way we do traditional tasks like invoicing and tracking our business receipts.  From an article in Toronto’s ‘Wired Differently’ magazine, David Patterson states that admin-busting technologies do more than just remove headaches for business owners, they make companies more agile and help improve customer service.

From my own experience of using technology, it definitely helps to know what questions to ask first.  My initial use of Xero which linked to our business bank account and generated a running profit and loss and allowed us to process our VAT returns was quite amazing.  It enabled our bookkeeper to easily reconcile all the transactions each month so much quicker.  But, knowing what questions to ask in relation to forecasting and the different reports available was more challenging.

Technology is changing the way people interact with tools to carry out their day to day tasks.  Imagine running a business now without access to email or no internet banking.  We would be lost!  The reliance on apps on our mobile phones to do simple tasks gives us more time to concentrate on other important tasks they that we specialise in.

Employment consulting firm Randstad highlighted in a recent magazine that 30% of workers being part of the ‘agile’ or ‘non-traditional’ workforce.  This included consultants, contractors, part-time, freelance and virtual workers.  I would not be surprised to see this change in work behaviour to rise dramatically over the next 10 years.

I’ve picked out three apps as below from the different magazines I’ve been reading this month following my travels to Toronto.

plooto.com – enables you to pay a supplier anywhere in the world over email, with the option of reconciling payments to invoices automatically.

getsensibill.com – a receipt management solution designed to meet the needs of freelancers and small business owners.

formhero.com – enables you to ask easy-to-understand questions of your customers providing a seamless and intuitive way for people to provide. The smart forms efficiently transform the data and deliver it back to the company in the desired format.  I do like the look of this one!

Stylish clothing for people with restricted movement

I read a lovely article in THIIS magazine about Katie Ellis, the director of Able Label, a stylish clothing and accessories range for women with restricted movement and reduced fine motor skills.

I have a friend who has difficulty stretching out her arm, which stops her from doing the simple task of putting on a coat, so she is always having to rely on another person.

I love the Velcro fastening bra’s, perfect for us females struggling to reach behind to fasten.  The Abel Label has some gorgeous knitted wraps and nightwear too.

Katie, the director, talks about the enjoyment of receiving testimonials from customers explaining the huge difference their products have made to them, for example being able to wear a coat which was easy to get in and out of, allowing the customer feel more confident in going out on her own.

I completely understand the huge importance of feeling confident in going out and being independent.  Anything that makes us feel restricted or uncomfortable can easily knock our confidence and make the decision on whether to go out, whether it’s a visit to the supermarket or dressing up to meet friends for dinner in a restaurant more difficult. Feeling nice in clothes is so important in making us feel good.

Awkward Encounters – when things go wrong

How do you deal with a situation when something has gone wrong?

How do you approach the issue when you are required to have a difficult conversation with a team member or a client?

So, do you make notes on what you’re going to say beforehand, prepare yourself with a mini script?  Or are you confident enough to just go for it and deal with the situation and questions as they arise?

Big question – do you prefer to carry out these difficult conversations in person or over the telephone?  Sometimes due to long distances the telephone is the only option.

Most of us don’t like confrontation and will do anything to avoid it.  Sometimes it’s just too easy to let issues fester rather than nip them in the bud early doors.

After reading an article about this very subject in the FirstVoice magazine last year, here are some suggestions to consider.


Make sure the meeting or phone call is carried out privately, don’t carry out the conversation in the open.


With any scenario get to the point straight away.  Try not to make small talk, be direct.  Start the call with something like, “the reason I’ve called you today is due to a problem/issue….”


Give the person space and opportunity to respond.  The person may be having personal problems which are the root cause of the issue(s) being discussed.


Don’t get personal – keep to the facts.


Stay calm and be prepared for any response and eventuality.  Dealing with an upset or angry response can be challenging.  People in general don’t like to be criticised, so keep to the absolute facts and stay calm.  If the person does get upset, allow them to compose themselves and try to resolve the problem.

So, be brave and don’t put off that difficult conversation, it may not be as scary as you envisaged.

Your Team of Associates and Burnout

If you’re growing your business and taking on team members, you’ll understand the huge importance of looking after your associates and employees.

From experience making sure your team do not burnout or become overwhelmed with work is massively important.  Spotting the signs is sometimes the difficult part.

As many of us work from home with your team working remotely, it’s challenging to know what’s going on all of the time.  Communication is definitely key.

Here are some helpful suggestions:

  • Always keep your door open, make your team aware they can phone you any time, should they have a problem or issue.
  • Beware of falling into the trap of giving more and more work to a team member. Even superstars get tired, jaded and have limits.
  • Give consistent feedback, at the very least speak with your team members at least once a week. Give them opportunity to give you feedback as well.
  • Make sure they have what they need to function properly.
  • Monitor their work load, have a good idea of the number of hours they’re working each month from their invoice.
  • Have regular conference call team meetings and make sure all the team attend, suggestion of every 4 to 6 weeks.
  • Encourage your team members to have a proper break at the weekend, make sure they are not over working during the evenings.
  • During busy times throw in some extra recognition of their contribution, a thank you gift can work wonders.

Do you have team members that don’t know how to say ‘no’ to more work?

Be mindful, those taking on excessive amounts of work, without regular supervision of their work load, can easily burnout.  We all tend to have a ‘yes’ mentality and don’t know the art of saying ‘no’.

Encryption for your data – GDPR


The ICO have brought out more information about Encryption.



Their information covers areas like:

  • What is encryption?
  • When should you use encryption?
  • Other considerations

Here’s a really good example, taken and amended from the ICO website.

A case management company issues laptops to their employees together with secure storage lockers for use at home. However, there is still the risk of loss or theft of the devices (e.g. whilst being used outside of the office, visiting clients in the home or at MDT meetings).

To help tackle this risk, the case management company requires all data stored on laptops to be encrypted or saved on the cloud. This should substantially reduce the chance of unauthorised or unlawful processing of the data in the event of theft or loss.

They do recommend having a policy governing the use of encryption if you have a team as part of your company.

As an example, guidelines for sending emails containing sensitive health information on clients.  Making sure it’s always encrypted and remembering that mobile devices also should be encrypted and with highly secure passwords.

NHS Digital have a good information on data and cyber security protecting information.

Their guidance information covers:

  • Assessing the type of encryption for the data and information on devices and communication links
  • assessing the right level for the data and information on devices and communication links
  • protecting data in relation to its classification / sensitivity.
  • managing the encryption systems

To find out more please visit the ICO website.

How to Run a Busy Independent Therapy Practice

An example of how using a Virtual PA can help you in running a busy professional Independent Therapy Practice.

Dealing with new enquiries

  • We are the first point of contact when a parent, carer or case manager telephones wanting more information about the type of services offered by, for example, a clinical paediatric physiotherapist specialising in acquired brain injury.
  • We know specifically what information to ask, for example: a postcode so we can calculate the travel and mileage for the nearest therapist to visit; age of child; telephone/mobile number and email to contact them with.

Typing reports over the phone following treatment sessions

  • A physiotherapist visits a young client in school to carry out a treatment session or a training session with their carers at home.
  • Following the treatment session the therapist calls their Virtual Assistant and dictates an update report from their mobile phone, this is then read back to the therapist to confirm that all content typed is correct.
  • The Virtual Assistant then transfers the content into the required template report sheet and emails this onto the appropriate case manager, making sure the therapist is copied into the email as well.
  • This creates an efficient streamlined system that allows the therapist to provide immediate information following a client visit.
  • This saves the therapist from having to open up their computer later in the day or evening following a busy day of travelling and visits.

Arranging specialist equipment demonstrations with Reps

This involves the organising of a demonstration appointment via a Rep from a specialist equipment company.

  • For example, a company called Jenx based in Sheffield, specialising in postural support products for children and Leckey, who manufacture a variety of positioning equipment for children with special needs.
  • We understand the process of requesting equipment demonstrations and quotes from companies such as Quest88 and Smirthwaite.
  • We have good working relationships with different Reps based in different areas of the country and act as first point of contact.
  • We understand the importance of specific details like the colour of the fabric and the sizing, especially when equipment can be extremely expensive and funded, dealing with the case manager and the receiver for payment.

Holding a comprehensive spreadsheet of contacts

  • We understand the importance of holding contact information on clients. From the family/carer details to the school they attend, their NHS therapist, their orthotist who supplies the splints and Piedro shoes, their receiver and case manager.
  • Having this information instantly available so the therapist can call at any time and request details is hugely important, especially for cancelling/rearranging appointments or if the therapist is running late due to traffic problems, we can contact the parent/school immediately.

Formatting reports and typing documents

  • We can type, create and format reports, activity sheets, therapy programmes, letters, instructions, templates, spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations.
  • We have a great awareness of the quality/level of information, detail and accuracy, layout of a report/document, terminology and confidentiality that therapists, case managers and solicitors expect.

Liaising with multi disciplinary team members and associates

  • We understand that all therapists liaise and work with a much wider team of multi disciplinary associates.
  • We understand the importance of client confidentiality and that we may be providing Virtual Assistant support to both a physiotherapist and a speech and language therapist seeing one client.

Dealing with Insurance Companies for private clients

  • We have experience of dealing with insurance companies such as Aviva, where payments for therapy treatment and initial assessments need to be checked through the insurance company before appointments can be made.
  • The request for a policy number from the client is required so that confirmation can be obtained from the insurance company.
  • The therapist normally needs to be registered with the insurance company as well – which is usually a very straightforward form to be completed.

Costings for future treatment – requests from case managers

The request for costings for future therapy treatment of clients is usually requested by the case manager for a 3 or 6 month period. This would include:

  • Calculating the expected number of treatment sessions per fortnight/month to include the cost of travel and mileage.
  • Any MDT meetings over that period, plus reviews, hospital appointments, joint meetings, visits with other therapists or demo visits with reps for specialist equipment.
  • Plus the cost of administration for writing reports, research, phone calls etc.

Why our Virtual Assistance is so important

Covering all of the above tasks makes a huge difference to running a busy professional Independent Therapy practice. It allows clients to concentrate on what they do best in business, the treating of patients and growing their own practice further.

It is about bringing support, understanding, structure, knowledge of their industry, dealing with urgent demands and getting to know their clients, building trust and good solid relationships.

Registering with the ICO and Changes to Fees

If you’re already registered with the ICO for data protection you may well receive an email when your renewal comes up explaining the information as below.  This is what we received.

Changes to the law

The Data Protection (Charges and Information) Regulations 2018 requires every organisation or sole trader who processes personal information to pay a data protection fee to the ICO, unless they are exempt.

Changes to the fee

Under the new regulations, you must still pay an annual fee, depending on your size or turnover, but this will now be £40, £60 or £2900. VAT is nil in all cases.

(They will tell you which of the amounts is most suitable if you are renewing).

Changes to the sanction – Failure to Pay

Failure to pay the data protection fee will be addressed through a fixed penalty.

If you process personal data for any of the non-exempt purposes and you either don’t pay the fee, or you don’t pay the correct fee, you will be breaking the law and could be fined up to £4,350 (on top of the fee you have to pay).

It is important that we receive all payments or cancellation requests on time, as 14 days after expiry, we will send notice of our intention to issue a fixed penalty notice, which you will have the opportunity to respond to.

Changes to the information we collect

Under the new regulations, you no longer have to tell us about the personal data you process. However, if you are required to have a Data Protection Officer (or you otherwise choose to appoint one), you should tell us about this, preferably at the same time as you pay your data protection fee.

To find out if you need to appoint a Data Protection Officer please see our Guide to the GDPR – Data Protection Officers.

For more information about any of the other changes described in this email, please see our Guide to the data protection fee.

Understanding Data Portability

What is Data Portability?

  • Data portability allows individuals to obtain and reuse their personal data for their own purposes across different services.
  • It allows them to move, copy or transfer personal data easily from one IT environment to another in a safe and secure way, without affecting its usability.
  • It enables individuals to take advantage of applications and services e.g. finding a quote for car insurance using a well-known online provider, that can use this data to find them a better deal.
  • This only applies to information which an individual has provided to a controller (e.g. online car insurance provider).

What is the right to data portability?

This is what the ICO say:

The right to data portability gives individuals the right to receive personal data they have provided to a controller in a structured, commonly used and machine readable format. It also gives them the right to request that a controller transmits this data directly to another controller.

As an example, if you have written an initial assessment report on a client, it is about getting confirmation by consent from the client to be able to share this report to the specialist consultant who may be carrying out their surgery or another independent therapist who will require this information.

When does the right apply?

This is what the ICO say:

The right to data portability only applies when:

  • your lawful basis for processing this information is consent orfor the performance of a contract; and
  • you are carrying out the processing by automated means (i.e. excluding paper files).

What does the right apply to?

This is what the ICO say:

Information is only within the scope of the right to data portability if it is personal data of the individual that they have provided to you.

To find out more information please visit this ICO link:


Future plans for your therapy practice

Over the summer holidays have you stopped to think about where you currently are in your therapy practice and, more importantly, where you want to be?

Have you made decisions for the next 6 months, put any milestones in place?

Do your plans sound anything like these:

  • Reducing my days working with the NHS to spend more time building my private practice.
  • Taking on an Associate Therapist as my work load has increased.
  • Working with more complex cases, considering client work with case management companies.
  • Starting to explore Expert Witness work.
  • Getting some help with my day to day administration, invoicing, dealing with new enquiries, report formatting and proof reading.
  • Considering increasing my prices in January but need to know what the market can bear.
  • Recognising the need to start marketing, possibly a website, social media, more exposure.
  • Looking to “niche market”, become more specialised in specific services and the conditions we treat.

It’s hugely important to give time to the development and growth of your business.  We all get swallowed up in the detail of the day to day activities and don’t always see past the coming week (or day if it’s a particularly busy one!).

If you haven’t had chance to think about ‘you’ and ‘your practice’, then make some time. Take a step outside of yourself and consider how far you’ve come, some or all of the points above, those ideas that pop into your head now and again without you really quite knowing how to bring them to fruition and, most importantly, giving yourself a pat on the back for your hard work!

Innova Litigation Project Conference

Innova Bob Oliver presentingInnova LPC Cover photo

We’re delighted to be exhibiting and speaking at Innova’s first Litigation Project Conference in May. With professionals from all walks of case management in attendance, we’ll be making sure that everyone is up to date on data compliance.

Our very own Tracey will be delivering a talk, and we’ll be on hand throughout the day to discuss how Virtual Administration can help you to stay on top of your workload and deliver an efficient service to everyone involved. Particularly with people who work in case management, we find that coordination between the different parties involved can be a real challenge; our service can keep you informed and up to speed on everything.

Formerly run by Innova’s sister company Yorkshire Care Equipment, this event is completely free, and gives everyone a chance to get together and review the latest knowledge and procedures when it comes to litigation cases and subsequent adaptations and actions. The conference will also give us a chance to network with private OTs, case managers, solicitors, architects, and other professionals who are involved in aspects of litigation work. We’ll be able to advise them on the upcoming GDPR regulations as well as showing them exactly how our services can help.

The Litigation Project Conference is one of the few events like this that is held in the North of the country, and it gives everyone a chance to catch up and put their heads together to deliver the best service to their clients.

Are you available on Tuesday 22nd May? Great! The Litigation Project Conference will take place at Wetherby Racecourse and is completely free, so reserve your place right here before it sells out. We’ll see you there!