Cutting our ties to Europe and its red tape

Cutting our ties to Europe and its red tape

All of our attention is focussed on Covid-19, while quietly in the background we are still in the process of leaving the EU and cutting our ties to Europe its data protection jurisdiction.

In this second article published in the Independent Practitioner Today this month, Jane Braithwaite and Karen Heaton share what this means for your practice.

Cutting our ties to Europe

SIGNIFICANT CHANGES to the business environment are often outside the control of medical practice owners, and always involve some work for busy medical practice staff.

In our concluding article of the series, we are looking at what med- ical practices need to be thinking about as the UK exits the transition period in December 2020.

For changes involving the processing of personal data, those medical practices who have invested in bringing their operations in line with the EU’s General Data Protection (GDPR) regulations and have embedded a data privacy and security culture within their organisations will be in a position to respond faster and more efficiently to changes out- side their control, such as Brexit.

The UK left the EU on 31 January 2020 and is now operating under the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement between the UK and the EU. This agreement runs until 31 December 2020.

Unless there is an extension to the Withdrawal Agreement, the UK will either leave with or with out a future deal between the UK and the EU.

Will there be a deal?

As everyone knows, the negotiations on what the future relation- ship between the UK and the EU will look like were put underway before the pandemic. It may be some time before businesses understand what that relationship will be and what it might mean for data protection. Read more...


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Lockdown is the time to plan for the future

Lockdown is the time to plan for the future

Our Managing Director, Jane Braithwaite, has contributed to two articles this month for the Independent Practitioner Today. The first article focuses on 10 top tips to help plan for the future and life after lockdown.

I believe it is now time for doctors working in private practice and owners of private healthcare businesses to be more positive.

The future of private practice promises to be positive and will bounce back much more quickly than other business sectors. Compared to the hospitality sec- tor, for example, we are in a relatively good position.

As we all know, the situation for our patients currently is not good. We have patients awaiting treatment, both on the NHS and privately, and as each day of the current crisis passes, the waiting lists get longer.

Patients are ignoring symptoms and, as I write, avoiding seeing their GP or consultant until the lockdown is lifted and this may well lead to longer-term problems.

Anyone involved in healthcare wants to avoid this happening and there has been a growing demand to open hospitals and clinics so we can start to address this.

Once this happens, we will enter an incredibly busy period as we treat patients as quickly as possible to avoid them waiting any longer than is necessary.

Private practice income has dropped to negligible levels in the last two months and, from a business perspective, this is devastating for many.

But things will get better quickly once private hospitals reopen and the lockdown is lifted. Private practice will see a rapid increase in activity levels.


So, what do we need to do right now to protect our private practices?


Here are my top tips for what to do now to ensure long term success:

  1. Strong Financial Management
  2. Cost-cutting
  3. Invoicing and aged debt
  4. Communication
  5. Review your marketing strategy
  6. …read more

Times have been tough, but begin the fightback by taking the opportunity now to secure the success of your private practice for the future.


Download the full detailed article for all the details and the next 5 top tips, as published in the Independent Practitioner Today.


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What should you do to adapt your practice in a time of crisis?

What should you do to adapt your practice in a time of crisis?

The fight against coronavirus has seen the NHS partner with the private sector as a way to provide more beds and medical resource in preparation for patients. Many consultants who operate for both the NHS and run their own medical practice are faced with the pressure of adapting their workflow to mitigate the threat.

How do you adapt your practice in a crisis?  What should consultants do in a rapidly changing landscape?


Electronic Consultation

Involves remote communication between patients and clinicians, or between clinicians and specialists. Have you implemented a e-Consultation service to help support practice continuity and patient care? e-Consultation is an essential tool to help contain the spread of COVID -19. If you have not yet made the move, Top Doctors is offering this free of charge to medical specialists, even if they are not already a member of the platform. Adapt your practice to overcome the obstacle of not being able to have face to face consultations.

Over communicate to patients.

It’s in times like these that patients look out to those they trust and rely with their health for guidance and support. As a practice you will have many ways to communicate with patients; emails, SMS, online chat, Social Media, Newsletters, patient portals, websites etc. Use these tools along with a basic yet focused communication plan to nurture and reassure your patients. The experience you provide your patients today will help future-proof loyalty and advocacy.

Outsource your call handling service.

If you are faced with a surge in incoming calls from panic-stricken patients a short-term interim call handling service can provide patients with guidance, support and appointment rescheduling. A calm, reassuring approach will support patient wellbeing and practice trust.

Proactively collaborate with your network. 

Suppliers are key to ensuring your practice operation remains intact. If you rely on an online prescription service & delivery, make sure you contact your suppliers to understand of any changes to their operating model, this information will also help further reassure your patients. A powerful peer to peer network is also important at this time. By simply sharing ideas, tools, resource via a simple WhatsApp chat will be hugely beneficial to your own wellbeing and that of your practice.

Keep people working.

Even if you your practice isn’t seeing patients there are plenty of opportunities to schedule essential work your team can handle from home. If your current infrastructure doesn’t support home-working you may choose to outsource essential tasks and adapt your practice accordingly. These could include billing to support cashflow, debt management, practice financial analysis and forecast, marketing communication, website management and creation, database cleansing including checking health plan directories have correct information about your practice.

Take care of yourself.

There is no doubt that the coming months will be strenuous for us all, please remember to take care of yourself and avoid burnout.

If you are faced with sudden changes to your practice, Designated Medical are 100% virtual meaning we are geared and experienced in remote and flexible working. We are happy to step in and support at short notice or advise on how best to implement a virtual office.

Our extended Designated virtual teams can help with:

  • Answering your calls and dealing with patient queries
  • Scheduling online meetings
  • Diary Management
  • Handling & chasing payments
  • Marketing & Communication
  • Social Media Management
  • Website Creation & Management
  • Webinar set up as an alternative to your cancelled events

Please get in touch via email or call 020 7952 1008 to discuss your immediate needs.

We are determined to help you ride the storm.

How to stay productive, connected and happy when working from home. 

How to stay productive, connected and happy when working from home. 

Working from home?  Does this fill you with dread? 

Are you wondering how best to tackle the day without compromising #productivity and those around you?  


I run a 100% #virtual business and have been doing so for 7 years. As a team of #expert #remote #flexible workers I wanted to share our 10 tried & tested top tips for #homeworking. I believe these top tips will help those who are new to remote working or as a gentle reminder of how to stay productive, connected and happy when working from home.

With schools closing today for the foreseeable future applying structure and discipline to your day will provide a sense of well-being and control, in what is a hectic and uncertain time.


Here are some things to think about if you have chosen, or been asked to work from home:

  1. Have a designated place to work, effectively a ‘workstation’. Don’t just have your laptop on your lap and expect to be productive.
  2. Maintain a morning routine, do all the things you’d do to prepare if you were going to the office. Set your alarm, have a healthy breakfast, wear smart yet comfortable clothes.
  3. Get started early. With no work commute you can get started on a project first thing in the morning, this will help make steady progress throughout the day.
  4. Have the correct internet speed.The speed will largely depend on what kind of work you do. If you frequently download and upload large files, internet speeds of at least 40 Mbps are recommended. Email and basic computer programs: 3-4 Mbps are recommended. Skype group video calls: 10+ Mbps. Large file transfers: 40+ Mbps is recommended. If you are unsure about the speed of your internet you can simply use a broadband test
  5. Self- discipline is key. If you aren’t used to working from home map out your day, set a smart schedule with clear priorities. Ensure to include regular breaks, a healthy breakfast, lunch and exercise where possible. Feeling like you are on top of your to do list will help you #workhappy and effectively.
  6. Maintain regular communication with your work peers. There are several tech solutions such as Zoom for videoconferencing, Slack for chat, Google Suit for spreadsheets, simple docs. All these tools can help you stay connected. I encourage video conferencing where possible this will help humanise the conversation. Seeing others will help you engage with your co-workers and stay #productive. It’s not just about work; if you’re missing the office chat, you could set up a dedicated #random chat using Slack or WhatsApp for you and your closest team to catch up. This is a great way to boost your #mentalhealth, refocus and #workhappy.
  7. Take time out and go for a fast paced walk this helps with readjusting posture, improves concentration and general health.
  8. Eat properly. It’s easy to get caught up with a project and skip meals or eat snacks.  Make sure you have a fridge stocked with healthy choices and productivity boosting foods.
  9. Set boundaries with your family. Make sure your family know when you are working. Put a ‘do not disturb’ sign on the door when you are on a call. Equally, set a ‘finish time’ for when you shut your laptop down – and make sure to stick to it.
  10. Manage your time fairly. Do you have multiple clients, projects? Track your time using a simple time tracking tool such as toggl. Advise your client in advance on how long a piece of work might take. Be realistic and learn from past experience.
Top reasons for data breaches

Top reasons for data breaches

In the March publication of the Independent Practitioner Today, Jane writes about the data breaches; the reasons, and how to avoid them.

IN THE non-cyber category – that is to say, ‘human error’ – we have, as the main causes:

  • General breach of personal data – this will contain ‘blagging’ incidents and the accidental disclosure of personal data;
  • Data posted or faxed to incorrect recipient;
  • Data emailed to incorrect recipient;
  • Loss/theft of paperwork or data left in an insecure location. In the cyber category, we have the following main reasons for data breaches:
  • Phishing – emails with malicious links, malware;
  • Unauthorised access.In conclusion, it is errors by staff and employees that cause the majority of data breaches reported to the ICO.Poor data handling and data management are underlying causes for the data breaches reported to the ICO, whether these breaches are cyber or non-cyber.

Errors in the use of emails is a big factor behind data issues, where we see common problems such as:

  1. Emails sent to incorrect recipients.
  2. Emails with people pretend-ing to be someone else – ‘blagging’. Blagging occurs when someone poses as a trusted individual to obtain personal information from their victim or encourage the victim to perform actions, such as a bank transfer.
  3. Emails containing phishing and other scams and malware. Phishing is an attack used to steal data including login details and credit card details. The attacker will generally pose as a trusted entity and dupe the victim into responding to an email or text message.
  4. Emails with incorrect or wrong content and referencing of individuals. Read more…

Download the full article for full details.