Did you know your team can claim up to £250 for working from home in 2020/2021?

Did you know your team can claim up to £250 for working from home in 2020/2021?

working from home

If like many private practices you have had to take some work online, remotely with your staff from home during 2020 and 2021, they can submit a tax claim of up to £125.00 for 2021/22 tax year. If they also worked from home last year (tax year 2020/21) then they could be eligible for up to £250.00 tax relief for both years.

Are they eligible?

  • They will need to have started working from home during the pandemic.
  • Encountered higher costs due to home working.
  • Working from home costs not already been covered by you, the employer.

How can they claim?

With so many of the UK population still working from home to some degree, the government set up an easy to use website making It easier than before to claim back tax relief: https://www.gov.uk/tax-relief-for-employees/working-at-home

If their application is successful their PAYE tax code will be changed and they will be able to take home more of your income tax.

The tax relief they will receive depends on their income tax band. All taxpayers can get a flat-rate of tax relief on £6 a week; basic-rate taxpayers will gain £1.20 a week (20% of £6), which equates to £60 a year. Higher-rate taxpayers can gain £2.40 a week, which is 40% of £6. This equates to £125 a year.

They can claim more and submit evidence if they have incurred more costs working from home.

 

Business owners and self-employed.

Self-employed workers can claim for more costs when working from home, such as a proportion of the costs when lighting, heating, cleaning, insurance, mortgage interest, water rates and general maintenance are used for work.

To work out the proportion, you’ll need to account for the amount of time you’re using your home for work, and in some cases the size of the area within the home that’s used for work purposes.

For example, if you work in a study you’d only be able to claim for the costs of heating that room while you work.

2021 Budget Announcement

Earlier this year Rishi Sunak announced a number of schemes and support plans for small businesses, these include:

• Restart Grant
• Help to Grow scheme
• Self-Employment Income Support Scheme
• Recovery Loan Scheme
• Super-deduction tax break for investment
• Business rates holiday
• Reduced VAT for tourism and hospitality
• Relief as no increase to Capital Gains Tax

You can find out more about these schemes and how they could apply to you and your business here.

https://smallbusiness.co.uk/budget-2021-and-what-it-means-for-small-business-2552090/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What are Health Awareness Days and how can you use them for Private Practice Marketing?

What are Health Awareness Days and how can you use them for Private Practice Marketing?

Health awareness days

What are health awareness days?

Health awareness days are planned observance events where a cause is being highlighted on social media. There are so many, they range from health-related ones to more fun and light-hearted ones!

You can plan a content marketing strategy using these, choosing the ones which are the most relevant to you personally and for your medical practice. These days are known a fair way in advance, so you can plan social media content and your messages ahead of time.

How to use health awareness days

Awareness and national days are incredibly popular on social media, generally used as hashtags and more often than not, trending on Twitter. This provides a golden opportunity to join the conversation, increase your engagement and reach new audiences.

You’ll need to select the right awareness days to include as part of your marketing strategy, they need to be relevant and match your medical practice objectives. When thinking about awareness days, you can use this framework to select the most appropriate day for you.

  1. Do the causes align with your private medical practice?
  2. Does the cause match or enhance your private medical practice values?
  3. Are the causes aligned to your Corporate Social Responsibility goals?
  4. Is it something you’re passionate about?
  5. Is the cause driven by staff interest or staff engagement?

It’s important to be able to give your unique view or context to the awareness days. Your content will then be more valuable and raise awareness on this topic.

You’ll need to do your research though, finding the relevant hashtags, and this will allow people to see your content and get involved, extending your reach. Your activity needs to be a win-win for you and the awareness day or cause. You’ll be supporting them, increasing awareness and creating conversation and engagement.

The content you create for the awareness day can be a good content hook, driving traffic to your website from your social media channels. It’s timely and often being talked about already, so planning your content ahead of time and publishing on the right day is key! 

Make sure to also include your involvement in appropriate emails and any newsletters too, so your email subscribers aren’t missing out on this valuable content. You might be able to remind them of your social media accounts and encourage them to become new followers of your medical practice online channels.

Do you want a hand getting your marketing strategy sorted? Do you know the awareness days you’d like to use for your business? Get in touch with Designated and let our marketing team, work their magic for you and your private medical practice.

 

 

 

 

Is your PHIN profile accurate?

Is your PHIN profile accurate?

phin

Our team at Designated Medical have recently been in touch with Jonathan Evans 
Communications and External Affairs Manager, Private Healthcare Information Network (PHIN), to ask him why private practitioners should be part of their network. 

For those of you who may not be familiar with PHIN, it is an independent, government-mandated source of information about private healthcare. The principle behind the network is to empower patients to make better-informed choices when choosing private treatment.’ 

 PHIN are committed to improving transparency to open up the private sector, to using feedback to drive continuous quality improvement and to providing information to consumers and patients which enables them to make better-informed choices about their healthcare. 

PHIN is a legal requirement for all consultants in the UK, but we asked Jonathan what else would he add to the standard information available on PHIN, especially to new consultants entering private healthcare. 

Engaging with PHIN is really important. Not only is it a legal requirement to engage with PHIN to submit fee information but reviewing your data and signing it off for publication is crucial and, when consultants have done that, many of them tell us that it is a very valuable resource.  

Following the Paterson Inquiry and greater collaboration between the NHS and private sector through the Covid-19 pandemic, there is a big push for greater transparency, and it is unlikely that private healthcare will ever go back to the days of old. People considering private treatment are consumers and they act like consumers. Greater transparency about what work consultants and hospitals undertake, and the outcomes (i.e. the benefit to patients), is now an expectation.  

PHIN is not only a great place to market yourself, but it is also a place where you can view your whole practice data. This can help with whole practice appraisal and revalidation, but many consultants also find this helpful for understanding the care they provide in relation to others.’ 

You will find on the PHIN website there is a secure portal for both hospitals and consultants to access PHIN data. 

Once PHIN receives private activity data associated with a Consultants’ GMC number, a Portal account is created using their GMC registered email address. PHIN will contact the consultant via email to sign up to the Portal. 

As a consultant the Portal allows you to: 

  • review data that has been submitted about your practice 
  • submit your fee information for publication 
  • create a profile about you and your clinical practice for publication on PHIN’s website 
  • verify performance measures for publication. 

PMI companies are especially interested in PHIN data, and have access to the website, but how important is the data to the PMI companies and will it be provided to patients whose care is funded by private health insurance in the future? Jonathan shares his views. 

PMI companies are interested in the information which is published on the website for anyone to access and would like to see more. Insurers are a key stakeholder group – they understand that greater transparency is where the private healthcare market needs to head and are totally supportive of the work PHIN does. We know they are keen to ensure good compliance by the consultants and hospitals with whom they work. 

Consultants are required under the CMA Order to publish their individual fees but, because of package pricing and differing insurer arrangements, this consultant fee information is not very useful to consumers by itself. We, therefore, want to work with PMIs, provider hospitals and consultants on the publication of a more useful range of prices. From PHIN’s perspective, it is important that there is much greater transparency in general around costs and price, to assist people considering private health care.’ 

 COVID has driven the healthcare industry, both public and private to deliver big changes in the way they practice, and PHIN is no exception. A recent article in the Independent Practitioner Today discussed a new research project that aims to give consultants more meaningful feedback about the work they do in private practice. Bearing this in mind, Jonathan explains what future projects PHIN have in place to help deliver against this. 

‘PHIN is working with LSE on a project to improve the collection of data on patient-reported outcomes (PROMs). It is so important that we listen to patients and use their feedback to enable more informed choice by healthcare consumers. We are working with hospitals and consultants to make sure that we do collect meaningful information from PROMs and QPROMs (for cosmetic surgery), and this is played back to consultants.  

PHIN will be launching a new website this summer (2021). We have taken the time to engage with a number of different stakeholders, most notably patients themselves, to understand what information matters to them, and how we can present information in the best possible way. We are excited about this and we’d encourage consultants to make sure they are on the new website This is something they won’t want to miss out on if they are going to grow their private practice, especially with more people expected to consider private care due to growing NHS waiting lists.  

We are asking them to: 

  • Submit their fee information  
  • Complete a profile – the better the profile the more likely Patients will engage with it! 
  • Review and verify their practice data. ‘ 

 

Our team at Designated Medical are available to support you with delivering the PHIN criteria. Please don’t hesitate to get in contact with your Medical PA, Designated Marketing team or with Hannah Smith to discuss further. 

 

 

 

Private Practice Marketing

Private Practice Marketing

Why is Private Practice Marketing Important?  

Marketing is an integral component of sustainable growth. Without it, there would be no influx of new patients, and even your loyal patients may slowly drop off, one-by-one.   

The healthcare industry has changed. What used to be a volume-based industry centred around the consultant, has become a quality-based industry centred around the patient. Marketing shows potential patients that not only is your practice different than the competition, but it is also a much better option overall. 

Marketing your private practice provides an open line of communication to your patient audience by building trust and piquing interest. It allows you to increase your patient connections and nurture those relationships to form long-term, loyal patients and therefore advocates. Successful marketing leads to successful patient engagement, and successful patient engagement leads to a booming practice. 

If you have poor marketing or no marketing at all, your brand will suffer. Yes, your private practice works similarly to any other brand in any other industry. Patients drive the healthcare industry of today, so impressing the patient (customer) is an essential element that will drive your practice ahead of the others. 

  • 88% of those searching for health information start with search engines – Google Complete Treatment Study 

The importance of marketing in the healthcare industry is to develop and execute marketing strategies geared towards engaging and educating patients on their healthcare journey through SEO, digital advertising, website, content marketing, and more.  

The Designated Medical marketing team, led by our experienced MarketinDirector, Michelle Wheeler, is highly skilled in healthcare marketing and can deliver a bespoke marketing strategy for you. Michelle has extensive marketing experience, across multiple industry sectors, and has built a robust, senior marketing team with ability across the spectrum from strategy through to implementation delivering only the best in class for our clients. 

The private healthcare world is competitive. Get in touch with Michelle now and stand out from the crowd. 

Call Answering

Call Answering

“The patient says she couldn’t get through”.  

“She was a new patient. We need to answer every call”.  

“I just received a complaint from a GP who couldn’t get through to refer a patient”  

How do you answer every patient call? Is it even possible? How many calls are being answered at your practice today? 50%90%? Can you measure this? How do you ensure you offer an exceptional quality of service when it comes to answering patients calls?  

At Designated Medical, our goal is to help our consultants manage and grow their private practices, providing the support needed to enable them to succeed whilst also reducing the stress and pressure of managing a private practice. As part of this commitment, we regularly share our expertise and knowledge, aiming to offer helpful guidance on best practice.   

In this article we share our expertise regarding the important challenge of reliably answering patient calls.   

Designated Medical 

Our team of Medical PAs at Designated Medical aim to answer a minimum of 90% of incoming calls every day and they often achieve 100%. Thedo this through teamwork.   

The solution we have adopted is to encourage our Medical PAs to work as a team and support one another. When a patient calls their consultants number, the Designated Medical PA for this consultant will answer the call. But if that Medical PA is already on a call, at lunch or otherwise engaged, the call will be answered by another member of our team who is also familiar with the consultant’s practice and able to handle the call professionally, including booking an appointment and answering most queries  

A culture of call answering.  

When your practice phone rings, there is a good chance that the call is a new patient looking to book their first appointment with you and missing it is a missed opportunity. If a new patient gets through to your voicemail, they will probably call the second clinic or doctor on their list and that is why it is so important to create a “call answering culture within your practice, aiming to answer every patient call.   

Too often, we hear comments such as “the phone rings constantly stopping me getting on with my work” but answering patient calls is the highest priority and not answering calls will have a negative effect on the growth of your practice 

Measurement  

“If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.” Peter Drucker.  

This is one of the most significant quotes in business, made by Peter Drucker, a very well-known modern business management guru. He has written 39 books on the subject and is credited with two of the most important business quotes of all of time, of which this is one.   

To improve anything you need to understand how well you are performing currently so that you can improve and know that you are improving.   

You need to measure how many calls you are receiving each day/ week/ month and most importantly how many of those calls are being answered. Ideally you would regularly monitor the percentage of calls being answered. A sensible percentage to aim for as a starting point is 80% of calls to banswered but 90% would be betterTo answer 100% of calls is not impossible but would require significant effort.  

If you analyse calling patterns for your clinic, you will see that calls, annoyingly, do not arrive in a routine fashion. There will be busy periods on certain days of the week and at certain times of day. Most people find that Monday mornings are exceptionally busy, but Fridays are quieter. The busiest times of day tends to be 9am to 10am, followed by a flurry at lunchtime and at the end of the day. Ensuring you have enough resource to answer all the calls at these busy times, is challenging.   

Answering a minimum of 90% of calls is great, but you also need to ensure that the few calls that are answered by voicemail are returned promptly and this can be achieved during those quieter periods but must be done within a truly short period of time.  

Technology  

Technology provides numerous solutions to help you improve call answeringA good telephone system enables you to set up a “hunt group” so that incoming calls are delivered to a group of people automatically and this is the feature that we use at Designated Medical. This ensures that calls are answered as quickly as possible ideally by the Designated Medical PA, but when not possible, by another member of the team  

There are other pieces of technology that you may love or hate, for example, the option to press 1 for appointments, 2 for invoicing, 3 for address details which is called an automated attendant 

Own your number!  

This is a slight asidebut we want to take this opportunity to advise you that it is vital for every consultant/ practice/ clinic to “own” their own telephone number. You will spend significant time and money promoting your telephone number on websites, business cards, hospital websites and insurance company websites and patients will store your number on their mobile phone.  Changing your telephone number part way through your career will have negative consequences and we have seen this happen too oftenWith modern technology, it should be possible to “port” a telephone number from one system to another, but this is not always the case.  

The same applies to consultants sharing a telephone number, perhaps because they share a medical secretary. What happens if someone leaves the partnership? Who retains the number? You can’t split in in half!  

Please make sure you “own” your own number from day one. It is equally important to “own” your own email address.  

Message taking services.  

There are numerous call answering bureaus such as Money Penny, specialising in answering calls in a reliable manner and their % answered will be very impressivefor example “we answer 95% of calls in 4 rings or less”. These services are generally large call centres, and your calls will be answered with a pre-determined script. A message will be taken and sent to your clinic by email or text message.  

There is a place for these services in the private medical world but ideally most calls should be answered by someone who can help the patient by booking an appointment or assisting with their questions as opposed to simply taking a message. These services can be utilised as an overflow service to avoid patients receiving voicemail and can also be used to extend your “opening hours” or even provide a 24-hour service.  

Auditing your calls  

We would also advise performing regular call audits. This is not at all high tech and involves your Medial PA keeping a record of the nature of each call receivedA simple checklist on a notepad kept by the phone will suffice 

The calls you desperately do not want to miss are the calls from new patients looking to book an appointment  

On a typical day, say you receive 35 calls, and your audit results tell you that 15 of these are patients calling to confirm the practice address, you can take action to reduce the number of these calls and improving your chances of answering the calls from new patients looking to book an appointment. Simply sending patients an appointment reminder ahead of their appointment, including the practiceaddress and how to find you will work. If you ask your patients to confirm their appointment, I strongly recommend asking them to reply by email as opposed to calling to confirm!

If your audit results tell you that 10 out of the 35 calls each day are from patients chasing their results, then you need to look at why this is happening. Are the results being sent out in a timely manner? Or perhaps patients are being advised that results will be received quickly, setting expectations that are too high?

Online booking  

Many Practice Management Systems (PMS) now offer online booking and if your PMS does, we recommend implementing this on your websiteWe know that patientsespecially the younger demographic, are keen to book online, and we encourage all clinics and consultants to embrace this new technology as it offers patients something they want, and it reduces call volumes. What’s not to love! 

 Our Top Tips  

  • Develop a “Call answering culture” – answering patient calls must be viewed as high/ top priority.   
  • Measure it to improve it – regularly review call answering performance.  
  • Call audit – why do patients call Reduce the number of calls where appropriate.  
  • Technology solutions – Investigate ways your telephone system can help you to improve.  
  • Own your telephone number – ensure you have a number (and email address) for life.  
  • Voicemail – Ensure messages are returned promptly.  
  • Appointment reminders – include address details. Ask patients to email to confirm rather than call.  
  • Online booking – set up on your website.   
  • Call answering bureaus/ call centres – use as a backup option and to increase your “opening” times. 

Brexit and private healthcare

Brexit and private healthcare

The start of 2021 has understandably been dominated by the continued coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the 1st of January 2021 also marked the date the UK left the EU, and this brings changes for all of us in the UK both in our personal and business lives.

On Christmas Eve, Boris Johnson proudly announced that a UK-EU trade deal had been agreed, containing rules for living, working and trading together and this agreement took effect from 11pm on 31st December.

At Designated Medical, our goal is to help our consultants manage and grow their private practices, providing the support needed to enable them to succeed whilst also reducing the stress and pressure of working in private practice. As part of this commitment, we regularly share our expertise and knowledge, aiming to offer helpful guidance on best practice.

We have been reviewing how Brexit affects our business and we thought it would be helpful to share our understanding with our consultants too, in the hope that it may help you understand the key changes. We are by no means experts on this subject and the information we provide is gleaned from our research using the information provided by the Government on their website.

We would welcome your feedback and comments to help us all gain a deeper understanding of the important changes.

The UK-EU trade deal is a 1200-page document, (the summary is 34 pages long) describing exactly what has been agreed which I doubt many of us will find the time or motivation to read, but we do need to assess how Brexit affects the private healthcare sector. The full document can be accessed here.

Brexit seems to affect the private healthcare sector in three main ways as follows:-

  • Importing/exporting medical supplies and devices
  • Sharing data
  • Recruitment

Importing and exporting medical supplies and devices

As we were made very aware in the run-up to Christmas, the borders between the UK and the EU are vital to the flow of goods and any changes risk problems developing quickly.

When France shut their borders on Sunday 20th December, a queue of over 2000 lorries very quickly formed and there is a lot of anxiety that this could happen in the coming weeks and months as a result of the new rules regarding the import and export of goods.

In the private healthcare sector, we rely on importing drugs, vaccines, medical equipment, and medical supplies and so this is an area we need to think about carefully.

Obviously, the news of the Oxford vaccine is phenomenal, and it is wonderful that we have been able to create this vaccine in the UK so quickly, but many of our medicines and medical supplies are imported into the UK and the Brexit deal changes the way this is managed. Most of us will not be directly involved, but we will be reliant on our suppliers to ensure that supplies are able to reach us in a timely manner. Suppliers will be responsible for handling the change of process and the additional administration involved, but we also have a responsibility to make sure we have access to the supplies needed to deliver care to our patients.

EU citizens currently living in the UK by 31st December 2020 will see no change to their rights and status until 30 June 2021. To continue living in the UK after June, EU citizens can apply to the UK settlement scheme. For EU citizens moving to the UK after 1st January 2021, they may be required to apply for a Visa.

Employers will be able to recruit “Skilled workers” from the EU after 1st January, but it will not be possible to recruit from outside the UK for jobs offering a salary below £20,480 or jobs at a skill level below “RQF3” which we understand is equivalent to A level. For some jobs in health and education and also for people at the start of their careers, there are different salary rules.

To understand more about the required skill level and salary levels read more here.

There is a documented process to follow to employ a skilled worker and you will also need to pay a licence fee between £536 and £1,476 depending on whether you are classified as a small sponsor or charity, or a medium or large sponsor.

In summary, as business owners, doctors and employers, we need to consider how Brexit affects us and ensure we are aware of the additional responsibilities it places upon us.

As mentioned earlier, this is not our area of expertise and we are approaching this as a business, ensuring our own company is compliant, and also as a service provider to consultants working in private healthcare.

We want to make sure we are well informed, and we thought it would be helpful to others for us to summarise and share our understanding along with references to key supporting information.

As always, we welcome your feedback and comments, especially if you have a deeper understanding than we do. If we receive a significant amount of information from readers that we think will be valuable to others, we will review and update this article and re-post.

We look forward to hearing from you.

January Stay Connected

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