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!

GDPR – Top 10 Tips

GDPR Logo - top tips

  1. Do you have ‘consent’ in place for every individual’s personal information you hold on your files and systems?
  2. Is there a ‘privacy policy statement’ on your consent forms, terms and conditions and contract agreements?
  3. Make it plainly evident what kind of personal information you collect.
  4. Explain what you will do with their personal data and how it is stored.
  5. Spell out what security measures you have in place for holding their personal information.
  6. Tell them specifically who you will share their personal information with.
  7. Be transparent and give them the option to unsubscribe on all your manual and electronic correspondence, e.g. website, emails, newsletters.
  8. Make ‘subject access requests’ easy to process.
  9. Double check that all your electronic platforms, cloud based solutions comply with the GDPR.
  10. Make sure your privacy impact assessments are kept up to date.

Final question: do you understand what a breach might look like and how to deal with it?

Cyber Security – Good Practice

GDPR Logo - cyber security

Here are 7 suggestions to consider in making sure your security is top notch.

  1. Download and install software updates as soon as they become available, they usually contain security patches.

  2. Keep all anti-virus software up to date.

  3. Use strong passwords and change them regularly. Don’t use the same password for lots of different platforms and websites that require login information.

  4. Delete all suspicious emails. If you are suddenly getting bombarded with suspicious emails, inform your email hosting provider.

  5. Keep your staff well trained in the basics of security, especially your remote workers.

  6. Look at cyber security insurance to reduce the risks against data and software damage, business interruptions and reputational harm.

  7. Have a good understanding of the data protection law, especially the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compliancy.

Virtual Reality Rehabilitation

Virtual Reality Rehab image 1

Virtual reality technology is becoming more and more common in rehabilitation, transporting patients far beyond the four walls of the gym and supporting them with new and exciting training programmes. Imagine walking through a forest on a path which winds left to right, and up and down, while learning to walk again. You are safely supported by a harness, so if you fall or become unstable, you will be prevented from hurting yourself. You could also walk around a cityscape with all the challenges you would typically encounter, or perhaps steer a boat around obstacles to train your balance.

Summit Medical and Scientific supplies innovative and unique rehabilitation systems in the UK from their partners at Motek. Founded over 20 years ago, they work with charities such as The Brain and Spinal Injury Centre (BASIC) in Salford, hospitals, clinics, football clubs and universities for the assessment and training of balance and gait. They are also installing one of their systems at the new Defence and National Rehabilitation Centre in Stanford Hall next year.

The virtual reality technology they provide, developed by companies like Motek, means that rehabilitation centres are developing personalised training programmes which enable patients to make faster progress when working on their balance or walking in real-world situations. For example, patients using the Computer Assisted Rehabilitation Environment (CAREN) can stand or move on an instrumented treadmill mounted on a motion base which can pitch, sway, roll and move up and down. Cameras capture the patient’s movement while they are surrounded by a screen showing different virtual environments. The data is collected in software to provide measurement and feedback of the patient’s walking or balance in real time.

Therapists can adjust the patient’s gait, monitor the immediate effects, and generate reports, all with just a few easy clicks. Additionally, systems like the CAREN, the Gait Real Time Interactive Lab (GRAIL), and the C-Mill (an instrumented treadmill with virtual and augmented reality) fulfil the five key recommendations included in clinical guidelines for rehabilitation of impaired gait and balance: start early, train often, train with variety, practice day to day tasks and monitor progress. Using systems with optional bodyweight support like the C-Mill means that rehabilitation can start early, even before patients can support themselves.

The combination of three key things will challenge your patients to achieve set goals and overcome any fear of moving around in the real world: immersion within a virtual reality environment; the games and challenges played; and the replication of “real-life” situations within a safe and controlled environment using training applications. Patients have said how engaging and motivating they find this new type of rehabilitation – it’s fun!

If you would like to find out more about Summit Medical and Scientific and their products, please visit their website and follow them on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. You are also welcome to contact Sara Brammall, Managing Director, via email: sara.brammall@summitmedsci.co.uk.

Virtual Reality Rehab image 3 Virtual Reality Rehab image 4

Content and images as provided by Jenny Brammall, Marketing & Communications Manager at Summit Medical Scientific.

Harvesting Emails and the impact of the GDPR Data Protection compliancy

I’m a member of a group on LinkedIn called ‘GDPR: Empowering Tomorrow’s Business’, which gives me the opportunity to post up all sorts of questions in relation to the new GDPR.  I wanted to see what the response would be in relation to harvesting emails.

This was my question:
What are your thoughts on the harvesting of emails from a website where the contact details of the members are in the public domain (e.g. a professional body/organisation making available the contact details of its members)?  If you made it clear where you found their name and email details, giving the person the opportunity to unsubscribe on your newsletter, would this be enough?

This was the Response: 
A definite no under the GDPR.  The advice was that many practices marketers have previously used to grow their databases won’t be compliant under the new GDPR compliancy rules.  Basically, you need explicit consent from the email owner.

It was strongly advised that, if you currently have a contact list that you market to or send newsletters to, it’s important that you carry out a re-permission campaign before the GDPR deadline next May.

Your message to the people on your contact list needs to explicitly state what your intent is in using their information (i.e. name and email address); for example, to keep them up to date with what’s happening with your company and to promote other services and products as part of your newsletter.  It is absolutely mandatory to make them aware you will not under any circumstance share their contact details with a third party.

Most importantly, make it abundantly clear they have the option to unsubscribe and that their details will be deleted from your contact list if they do.

It is going to be very interesting to see how many companies are properly aware of the legislation around marketing their services and products and how hugely important it is to carefully look after personal information under the GDPR.

How to Write a Good Report

How to write a good report

Early in the year I attended a seminar with Janet Stowe (Occupational Therapist) giving a presentation about how to write a good report.  This is what I took from Janet’s excellent talk.

How true this is and how important it is to know your worth.  Consider all these points below:

  • Terms of business, get these signed and agreed before starting.
  • If it is a joint instruction – get both sides agreed before you start.
  • Don’t accept payment terms of getting paid at the end of the case – a case settlement could take years.
  • If you are asked to make amendments, you can add the cost of the amends to your invoice.


  • Read all case notes to make sure you know what’s missing, any identifiable gaps in notes, any illness, any psychological issues before the event took place.  Look at family history.
  • Don’t be afraid to delay a visit if you have not yet received a psychological report.
  • Make sure you have hospital reports.
  • Refer to all reports in full to reference.
  • Make contact with your client to arrange the visit, you will gain quite a bit of information during this initial conversation.
  • Send a letter to the client as confirmation of the appointment.
  • Inform instructing solicitor of your booked appointment.


  • Complete your report on paper at the visit, not on a laptop.  Eye contact is so important, they want to see you engaging with them, not staring at your keypad.
  • You may wish to record the interview.
  • Make sure you have a tailored questionnaire.
  • Use different coloured pens to differentiate between who spoke in the interview.
  • If there is conflict in the information, you feel may not be quite right, leave space on your form.
  • Hospital records, see how often they visit.
  • Keep observing client, it may throw up things from visual observation.
  • Write everything down, the client may dispute what the Case Manager writes in court.
  • Take a camera or phone to take photos of person at that specific time.


  • Front page
  • History
  • Pre-accident history
  • Family
  • Friends
  • Employment
  • Social life
  • Housing
  • Equipment

You have to justify everything you report.  You are telling a story.  It must be easy to read, showing problems and solutions with the costs, the equipment required, why is it needed, what’s the solution, the cost and the replacement cost.  Always make reference to where you get information from.


  • The care part is always the most difficult and most likely contested area.
  • There is nothing wrong with being a cynic, it will make you think more.
  • Detail where you get your costs/quotes from.
  • Costs related to time travelled and parking costs in hospitals by family members needs to be included in the costings.
  • Prepare care in chronological order. Be clear on your costs of what is needed.


  • Make sure you follow instructions properly.
  • The more evidence based, the better your report.
  • If you need more information, make sure you ask.

For a video of Janet’s excellent talk, please click here.