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This current epidemic presents all of us with novel challenges. Even though people direly need your services, more and more the physical connection is lost. It means that it will be difficult to accurately assess those who are in need help and support.

We cannot ignore the economic reality. Downturn, layoffs, and an economic slowdown are very likely so making sure you strengthen your relationships with your existing clients is paramount.

As more and more professionals are looking into doing remote consultations, we want to share a series of best-practice as it is not just a matter of launching a Video Conferencing, Web Conferencing or Webinars software.

Which platform to use?

There are 2 factors to consider when selecting a platform: Costs and compliance.

  1. After having done some extensive research we feel that Zoom is the best option at the moment.
    Because we want to help our pros and their customers, we are actively looking into integrating Zoom into Okaya. If you are a zoom user, get in touch with Gregory and we’d love to discuss our plans with you.
  2. However, we recognize that Zoom has a cost, especially if you want to fully Hipaa/GDPR compliant (which we recommend). Alternatively, you could be looking into Skype, Hangout, Facebook, or even WhatsApp. While these alternatives are free, we do not recommend them in a professional setting because of compliance and stability issue.

Regardless, keep in mind that no system is perfect. Having a backup phone number to reach someone is always a good idea. All these systems rely on (drumroll) the Internet. And it’s becoming a very crowded place lately: You may not be alone at home and neither is your customer, which means bandwidth will be an issue at time.

Can I interact with my customers from anywhere?

This one is a bit trickier.
In general yes. However, certain states regulate the type of services that can be rendered online so make sure you check with your own state.
For example, in Colorado, certain telehealth practices are regulated and you can only practice when both you and the end-user are in the state.

Given the circumstances it is almost certain that rules and regulations will change. We’re having a hard time believing that a practitioner in Colorado whom has been working with a client for a while cannot all of a sudden keep working with this client if the person is all of a sudden driven out of town (see all the campuses closing for example)

 

How do I protect my customers’ privacy and safety?

As soon as you move your conversations online you must be more aware than ever about your customers’ surroundings.

For example, let’s say that you are usually helping someone who has problems at home. Well, now that person is at home and likely within a few inches of the source of their problems. It would be unrealistic to think they will be speaking freely and openly.

This is where the daily check-ins can come in handy with Okaya. They only take 15 seconds, are not recorded on a device and we can already pass on a lot of information to your customer.

Regardless, don’t hesitate to ask them if they are alone in a room when interacting with you. I know some of you have used keywords/codes in the past in your practice to assess whether someone could speak freely; this may be a good time to revive the practice.

Even if you are not a psychologist, we highly recommend the checklist put together by the American Psychological Association

 

How do I protect myself?

Sadly enough, there are some legal considerations when doing web-based conferences.

  1. In most countries in the world, you cannot record someone without their consent.
    Yet, it is highly recommended to record patient <-> pro interactions to lower any liability issues.
    So what is one to do?
    Our recommendation is to ask for a release form .
    Some people are on the side that one release form is enough to cover all the subsequent meetings.
    In these troubled times, we recommend a strong CYA approach. One that you could manage from Okaya which is to have your customer sign the release before each interaction. Right before your remote interaction begins that’s when they have to sign the release.
    By the way, this is also a great time to discretely ask your customer about their surroundings and concerns; this way you have the information before the conversation even starts.
  2. If you are dealing with minors then make sure you take all the required steps to record your interactions with them. For our coaches on the platform, your governing bodies may also have an extra set of rules as to how you must interact with an athlete online and some of the safeguards to put in place.

 

How do I get paid?

It’s very important that you review your payment options as we fear many people will be taken advantage of.

At Okaya we’ve taken a simple approach: If you are a paid customer then you can use our online payment system and we only pass on the bank charge, which is a little under 3%.

If you are going to use an external system, make sure you understand all the transaction fees involved. Also, because you will be dealing with online meetings, we highly recommend that you charge prior to the consultation; this is one of the surest ways for people to show up and not “forget” the appointment.

Finally, and likely the most important element of all:

In regular times, caregivers (that’d be you) are 50% more likely to be hit with burnout and depression than the rest of the population.
These are not regular times; you will be removed from your support network and will have many more stressors than usual.  Please, make sure you take care of yourself and your loved ones.  
While people talk about social isolation, we’d much prefer hear the term “physical isolation” because you cannot isolate yourself socially right now. It’s simply too dangerous.

We are looking into do a social hour with our pros in the coming few days; if you’d like to be on the invite, just reach out to us.

We’re here to help you in these challenging times so do not hesitate to reach out!

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