Posts tagged " Alternative Medicine "

GDPR AND ALTERNATIVE THERAPY CONSENT FORMS

July 24th, 2019 Posted by Acupuncture, Alternative Medicine, Clinic app, Consent forms, Consultation Forms, Electronic signatures, GDPR, Holistic Health, Hypnotherapy, Medical History Form, Paperless, Photography, Sports Therapy, Uncategorized, Web Design No Comment yet

It is now over one year since the GDPR legislation came into effect on the 25th of May 2018, and it’s still a major area of concern to many small and medium-sized endeavours.

The Alternative Medicine sector is no exception as I discovered when we exhibited at the Holistic Medicine Exhibition at the ICC in Birmingham recently. 

Almost everyone I spoke to wanted to know if we could help them with compliance. It was as important as the cost savings of going paperless for them. Convenience for them and their clients is the other main benefit.

Many of them were members of a Professional Hypnotherapy Association. They comply with the hypnotherapy code of ethics they studied as part of Hypnotherapy training. Therefore complying with GDPR is important too.

Fortunately, using paperless forms is a great cure for many GDPR headaches.

Nothing worries us more than the unknown. So I thought I’d write down a few words about how GDPR affects Hypnotherapists.

GDPR IS A SOLUTION NOT JUST A PROBLEM

Many people saw GDPR for alternative practitioners as a problem. By offering more transparency it safeguards consumer rights in our online world. Not a problem but a solution.

However, GDPR was written by highly paid lawyers. It appears designed to be complex to keep them in business. 

So here is my take on it, let’s start from the top, shall we? 

WHAT IS PERSONAL DATA?

Personal data means information relating to an identifiable person. Information including, names, addresses, dates of birth, ethnicity, medical information etc.

If you collect personal data for example, using an iPEGS electronic consent form you are the Controller and we are the Processor. The same is true for Medical history, Treatment plan or in fact any of our forms.

As a controller, you determine the purposes of processing personal data. We as a processor, are responsible for processing the data, storing it securely as well as keeping it accessible and within the law. 

A RECENT SURVEY SHOWED NEARLY 40% OF SMALL BUSINESSES DID NOT UNDERSTAND GDPR REGULATIONS

Most people who use paper forms are both the controller and processor. They hold all the responsibility themselves. 

HANDWRITTEN FORMS ARE DATA TOO

GDPR applies to both automated personal data and to manual filing systems. Handwritten forms are data just as the most sophisticated online form, only more cumbersome. 

You must keep an inventory of all personal data that you process.

If that data is digital with the right provider it is relatively simple to keep within the law. Paper-based data is much harder to manage.

THINGS YOU AS CONTROLLER OF PERSONAL DATA SHOULD CONSIDER

  • You must obtain consent to collect data, even the informed Consent to treatment form. You must receive Informed consent to collect Informed consent.
  • How do you store information? In a filing cabinet, on an excel sheet, or securely encrypted in the cloud?
  • Do you share or transport data and if so, how? Is it in the car as you travel between clients? Scanned, printed out and posted, emailed? All these present risks. If submitted securely to a UK data centre, as with iPEGS forms, for example, those risks disappear. Unlike your data might.
  • Is the information subject to a retention schedule?
  • You must keep client data, usually for 7 years.
  • The type of information you are holding (names, addresses, dates of birth, medical history, etc).
  • Do you collect it as paper forms, electronic forms, etc?
  • Will the information for marketing, research, evidence of permission?
  • Who will share the data?
  • Will there be an effect on the individual concerned and is it likely to cause any individuals to object or complain?

ALTERNATIVE THERAPISTS CLIENT’S RIGHTS UNDER GDPR

  • The right to be aware, of data you hold on them.
  • To have timely access to their personal data.
  • The right to request rectification, without delay.
  • To have personal data deleted.
  • The right to data portability, which allows individuals to obtain and reuse their personal data.
  • The right to object, for example, using their data for direct marketing.

If you lose data and let’s face it losing a paper form is easy to do even in the best run surgeries, this counts as a breach.

GDPR WHAT ARE THE RISKS FOR THE HYPNOTHERAPY PRACTITIONER?

If someone gains unauthorised access to your client’s private information, you have 72 hours to report the data breach to both your customers and any data controllers, if your company is large enough to require a GDPR data controller. Failure to report breaches within this timeframe can lead to heavy fines. 

For most practices, GDPR creates the need for greater investment either in consultant’s fees or in your own valuable time. Ensuring your operational processes are up to the required standards, ensuring websites, forms etc are designed and optimised for the latest protocols.

THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN CONTROLLING DATA

  • Are you or someone on your team trained on data protection?
  • What changes have you made this year to become GDPR compliant?
  • Have you built client consent into your system ?

Clients can give consent in various ways, such as email, a contact form on the website, a check-box on your landing page, tick box on the form etc.

Consent records must specify the time and date when consent was given, as well as the exact means they delivered consent. 

COMPLIANCE INSPIRES TRUST

Compliance not only protects the patient, but it also protects your surgery from overstepping the boundaries.

Companies who seem to cut corners with data protection might well cut corners elsewhere. Most of us are members of a National Hypnotherapy association and have no problems with Hypnotherapy ethical issues. Cutting corners is not in our DNA we understand Our ethics and professionalism are all we have. So going digital make sense.

Can you simply and rapidly process data deletion for clients. Is it at the press of a button or will it take hours of work?

Do any 3rd parties have access to your client’s data? Third party access to data is all too common, third parties who might be using the same network or facilities, you need to be aware of any other parties who might have access to the data you’re collecting. This can be a particular problem in mixed therapy practices. Is it kept in a filing cabinet where others have access or a shared network?

How easy is it to export your data? Is it available at the touch of a button or is it a trip down to the cellar and a root through the filing cabinets?

PRIVACY BY DESIGN

One component of GDPR is privacy by design. This requires therapists to design their systems with the proper security protocols in place from the start. Failure to design your systems of data collection the right way will result in a hefty fine. It is a good idea to take a good look at your website if it hasn’t had a design overhaul in the last year or so.

Are your forms easy to find and wipe? Who has copies? Are you holding data on your phone, laptop or PC and do others have access to these devices?

GDPR seems complex, but essentially it refers to the need to have business systems designed with proper security and privacy measures integral. iPEGS paperless forms, for example, is such a system.

If you would like to find out more about how a system such as iPEGS can help you manage your client data, please check out our website www.ipegs.co.uk or contact me directly steve @ipegs.co.uk or call me on 01244 955350, I will be pleased to help.

GDPR ISSUES FOR THE ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE SECTOR

July 24th, 2019 Posted by Acupuncture, Alternative Medicine, Consent forms, Consultation Forms, GDPR, Holistic Health, Insurance, Paperless, Security No Comment yet

Most of us are way beneath the higher risk threshold but our insurance companies are taking these levels of risk on our behalf and charging us to do so.

I spent some time this weekend chatting to specialist Healthcare Insurance Brokers at the exhibition and they were very pleased to see me. They assured me that the actuaries will sleep better knowing their clients are using iPEGS paperless forms.

Now I like a well-rested actuary as well as the next man, but my objective is to get them to discount insurance for our users. Not only is your risk less, so are theirs, after all.

For most practices, GDPR creates the need for greater investment either in consultant’s fees or in your own valuable time. Ensuring your operational processes are up to the required standards, ensuring websites, forms etc are designed and optimised for the latest protocols.

Large companies may appoint a DPO (data protection officer). However, for most of us DPO is just another hat to hang alongside the, therapist, counsellor, head of HR, finance, marketeer, sales manager and parent hats ti name a few. Being too busy is no defence in law unfortunately. I’ve always believed it’s a clever man who buys his brains. So if we can rely on professionals like iPEGS and save money into the bargain it’s a bonus.

COMPLIANCE INSPIRES TRUST

Compliance isn’t solely an expense, in order to conform to the rules, it helps to inspire trust and confidence in the eyes of our patients.

Companies who seem to cut corners with data protection might well cut corners elsewhere. Most of us are members of a National Hypnotherapy association and have no problems with Hypnotherapy ethical issues. Cutting corners is not in our DNA we understand our ethics and professionalism are all we have. So going digital make sense.

Compliance not only protects the patient, but it also protects your clinic from overstepping the boundaries.

THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN CONTROLLING DATA

  • Are you or someone on your team trained on data protection?
  • What changes have you made this year to become GDPR compliant?
  • Have you built client consent into your system?

Clients can give consent in various ways, such as email, a contact form on the website, a check-box on your landing page, tick box on the form etc.

Consent records must specify the time and date when consent was given, as well as the exact means that they delivered consent. 

Can you simply and rapidly process data deletion for clients. Is it at the press of a button or will it take hours of work?

Do any 3rd parties have access to your client’s data? Third party access to data is all too common, third parties who might be using the same network or facilities, you need to be aware of any other parties who might have access to the data you’re collecting. This can be a particular problem in mixed therapy practices. Is it kept in a filing cabinet where others have access or a shared network?

WHAT PROTECTIVE MEASURES DO YOU HAVE IN PLACE?

Are there proper security protocols in place that will detect data breaches when they occur? How do you know if your client’s data had been hacked into or copied? The last thing you want is to find out about a data breach from your users and valued client. This is a sure-fire way to lose trust. 

How easy is it to export your data? Is it available at the touch of a button or is it a trip down to the cellar and a root through the filing cabinets?

One component of GDPR is privacy by design. This requires therapists to design their systems with the proper security protocols in place from the start. Failure to design your systems of data collection the right way will result in a hefty fine. It is a good idea to take a good look at your website if it hasn’t had a design overhaul in the last year or so.

Are your forms easy to find and wipe? Who has copies? Are you holding data on your laptop or PC? Do others have access to these devices?

The concept seems sort of complex, but essentially it refers to the need to have business systems designed with proper security and privacy measures integral. iPEGS paperless forms provides such a system.

If you would like to help improve the management of your client data and in the way you collect it please check out our website www.ipegs.co.uk or contact me directly steve@ipegs.co.uk or call on 01244 955350, I will be pleased to help.

MANAGING CLIENT’S DATA FOR THERAPISTS

July 24th, 2019 Posted by Acupuncture, Alternative Medicine, Clinic app, Consent forms, Consultation Forms, GDPR, Hypnotherapy, marketing, Medical History Form, Paperless, Sports Therapy, Uncategorized, Web Design No Comment yet

HOW DO I AS A THERAPIST PERMANENTLY REMOVE CLIENT’S DATA FROM MY OLD DEVICES?

As a Therapist you store sensitive client information on your desktop computer, laptop, tablet or even smart phone.

One of the key moments where data becomes vulnerable is when you dispose of old IT equipment. 

You cannot just copy and then dump data, there is a duty of care for the total life cycle of the equipment including disposal.

Client information such as Informed consent forms, Medical histories, Treatment plans, or other Consultation Forms, as well as contact details, are at the core of your business. It is protected by GDPR law and frankly not something you want to go astray. Make sure that you have it safely, on the cloud, or alternatively stored securely.


MY CLIENT’S DATA IS IN THE CLOUD. HOW DO I DELETE THIS SECURELY?

If you are using iPEGS paperless forms, securely deleting data from the cloud is simple. You need no special software, reformatting, resetting, or specialist IT security consultants. You can delete data on request permanently and at the push of a button. As clients are able to request this from you as data collector.

If you use another provider you should contact them for advice on how to securely delete this data.

MY DATA IS ON MY DEVICE, NOT ON THE CLOUD

If you store your data off cloud, at first glance deleting files, formatting or factory resetting hardware should do the trick. Unfortunately that is not always the case.

The delete file button does not really erase files, it just takes them out of sight. Anyone with a little knowledge can easily recover these files.

If you have client’s phone numbers, email addresses on your phone, and who doesn’t, disposal is a huge responsibility. 

DONATING OLD PHONES OR TABLETS

If you have ever sold or passed a mobile phone or tablet on, what happened to all the data that was on the device?  Even activating the factory reset on mobile phones and tablets isn’t always the end of it. 

You may think you are doing the right thing by donating your old phone to organisations like Oxfam or Fonebank but without the proper precautions, you could put client’s data at risk.

YOU MUST BE SURE THAT ALL PREVIOUS DATA IS UNRECOVERABLE BY THIRD PARTIES 

Where is my client’s data? 

Desktop and laptop computers store data on an internal hard drive. Most of us are familiar with that. Don’t forget that you may also have client’s data stored on USB drives, USB sticks or even CDs.

Some Mobile phones and Tablets have internal SD cards not dissimilar to the ones you can buy to add memory or save photo’s. 

DELETE OR DESTROY?

When you delete your data it may no longer be easily available. However traces of data remain in places that aren’t always apparent.

If you move an item to the recycle bin or perform ‘quick format’ on your hard drive or a factory reset of your device, you may consider it deleting data but it isn’t complete.

For a home computer, this is generally an adequate method for removing your personal data in most situations.

Formatting your device, recreates the data structures and file system.

You can delete data by reformatting, unfortunately, it could still be recovered easily.

HOW DO I MAKE SURE MY DATA CAN NEVER BE RESTORED, EVEN BY PROFESSIONALS? 

Data Destruction

Employ an IT security specialist.

There are many companies which will securely delete data for you from a range of devices. These organisations will destroy or overwrite data on your behalf. 

Companies such as Secure IT Services Ltd for example, use InfoSec Standard No: 5 Approved Blancco programme as do other companies in the sector. This is the gold standard but is costly.  

They are able to return, reuse or recycle your device after they have securely deleted your data.

Before you send a device to be wiped, it is wise to restore it to factory settings. When your machine is returned, you should confirm your data has been removed securely

All this takes time and money but is the most effective method of removing data .

OVERWRITING PROGRAMMES

Using an overwriting programme can be cheaper and you can continue to use the device once the process is complete. 

Overwriting large hard drives takes time and this may need to be done multiple times. However it may be impossible to remove all data from the device.

Where do I find overwriting software?

You can find programmes which offer secure deletion of data easily. Some are free to download however, you should make sure this comes from a reputable source and check user reviews against the claims that it makes.

USE A SLEDGEHAMMER

You may well decide that it is cheaper and less hassle just to destroy the hardware. Even this is not as simple as it may appear at first glance.

The client data may well be the only thing that you really want to remove, not to buy a new computer.

If you take a sledgehammer to your device, you can’t just sweep up the yard and dump it into the bin. The debris from mobile phones tablets, and the batteries particularly raise extra health, safety and environmental concerns.

You can try restoring factory settings.

Many devices offer a function to ‘Restore to factory settings.’ This will return the device to the state in which you bought it. This mostly applies to tablets and smartphones.

Included in the reset process must be a secure wiping stage. Not all devices include this process. You should check with the device manufacturer .

THERE MUST BE AN EASIER WAY?

If having read this you feel that it might be wiser to, stick to therapy and not take up IT security as a part time job then why not look at our website and see how iPEGS can help you manage your forms and data.

By using the iPEGS Paperless System for your Consultation Forms, Consent Forms, Medical Histories and Treatment Plans, you can be sure that your data is safe. As the data processor, we store and encrypt your data in a secure, state of the art UK data centre. We are Cyber Essentials Certified giving you peace of mind that our defences will protect against the most common cyber-attacks. We have achieved the IASME governance standard in relation to GDPR where we have demonstrated wider governance for management of the controls protecting personal data.

I’m interested how do I get started?

If you would like to know more simply email me directly: steve @ipegs.co.uk or call me on 01244 955350.

Going Paperless in Alternative Medicine and Complementary Medicine

April 2nd, 2019 Posted by Alternative Medicine, Holistic Health, Paperless No Comment yet

As caring members of the alternative therapy movement, whether practitioners of Acupuncture, Reiki, Hypnosis, Homeopathy, Yoga,Vedic medicine or any of the many other fields, like most professionals we have a few differences of opinion.

I would however suggest that one of the many things we do have in common is a holistic approach to health, we can agree the importance environment has on a patient’s outcomes. Keeping pollution to a minimum is an important answer to many modern health problems.

If you disagree, and have a different answer. I would love to hear from you, my email is steve @ ipegs.co.uk I admit I will be surprised to find a deluge of emails coming in anytime soon.

So my next question is are you doing everything to protect your patients and your own environment?

If you are still using paper for your forms, be it for consultation forms, medical history forms, consent forms or others, are you aware of the needless damage they are doing to the environment?


I was doing a little research the other day and I was horrified at what I discovered. I had no idea paper was so toxic to us all and the planet we inhabit. Here are a few of the worrying facts, for you to consider:

Here are some things you may not know:

One mature tree, only produces approximately 16.67 standard packs of 500 sheets of paper.

Just one page of A4 paper uses approximately 10 litres of water to produce the equivalent of the daily ration of five people.

One ton of paper needs approx 253 gallons of petrol to produce it.

The paper industry is the 5th largest consumer of energy in the world.

Over 30 million acres of forest are destroyed annually, 40% of the worlds commercially cut timber is used to produce paper, its production is a big contributor to the problem of deforestation and is partly to blame for the endangerment of some species that live in the forests.

Most of the materials in landfills are made of paper. When paper rots, it emits methane, a greenhouse gas. When it is burned or composted, carbon dioxide another one.

The life cycle of paper is damaging to the environment from beginning to end. It starts off with a tree being cut down and ends its life by being burned – emitting carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Dioxin is one of the many toxic by-products of the manufacture of paper and we all know how good that is for you.

Ah yes but we use recycled paper!

Good answer but:

Did you know?

Paper can only be recycled 7 times. On average in the first world 70% of paper is recycled, so in all, recycling only triples the life of your paper. Trust me I did the math.

Each time it is recycled it damages the environment.

Paper recycling involves the removal of inks from the used paper. Recycling facilities use different processes, the chemicals they employ range from detergents to caustic chemicals, such as chlorine.

Print from copy machines and laser printers is particularly problematic because it is not really ink but rather a plastic polymer that the printer or copier burns onto the paper. Removal requires chemicals that are much more caustic than standard chemicals.

Similarly, printing inks contain heavy metals and other compounds that require strong solvents. Your forms probably come into this category.

Recycling paper is a major cause of water pollution

When recycling facilities remove inks from paper, the waste makes its way into the water table. Metals from printing inks, including copper, lead, zinc, chromium and cadmium, enter the stream. Waste water from paper recycling often contains our old buddy dioxins of Agent Orange fame.

Solid Waste

Waste paper reprocessing produces a sludge that contains solids including small fibres, ink from the de-inking process and fillers. This waste, including the heavy metals from the inks, is often sent to landfills.

Incineration is an alternative, but this process releases dangerous emissions, including dioxins and hydrocarbons, as well as the heavy metals from the inks. The ash that remains after incineration also is consigned to landfills.

I’m sure like me, you find these facts worrying? If you do find them concerning why not do something about it?


Oh dear here comes the sales pitch…

I do have an axe to grind, I admit it. Of course, I want you to use our product and help us build our business. Just as you want to treat your patients well and build yours. However in this case I believe we have a mutual interest.

I want you to stop wasting paper, save you time and money and I want you to give your clients a better experience by going paperless with iPEGS electronic forms.

More than that though, I hope you agree the time when we could ignore the environmental effects of our actions is over, the world is too small and too crowded. We have to care about our impact on it and minimise the damage we do. I want my grandchildren to live on as healthy a planet, for as long as possible, don’t you?

So if you care as much about your clients, your bank balance and the world we all share – as we do here at iPEGS then this is something we can do together.

If you are ready to finally go paperless then please send me an email steve @ ipegs.co.uk to ask me how we can start the process of making your forms electronic. It’s up to you of course, but in this case I will be delighted to be deluged with your questions.

References:

  1. The water footprint of wood for lumber, pulp, paper, fuel and firewood
  2. Forest Ethics: The Facts – Paper Consumption and It’s Impacts 
  3. Wikipedia: Environmental Impact of Paper
  4. Natural Resources Defense Council: Using Less and Reusing More
  5. iD2 Communications: Facts about Paper and Paper Waste
  6. The World Counts

Holistic Health Consultation Forms and Intake Forms

April 1st, 2019 Posted by Alternative Medicine, Consultation Forms, Holistic Health, Paperless No Comment yet
Holistic Health Consultation Forms

Many people come to alternative and holistic health practitioners, as a last resort and with some reservations. The popular press love to search out examples of malpractice and scare monger, after all fear is what sells newspapers. They are often in pain and unsure if you can help, a stressed or nervous patient is not an easy one.

So, if you are going to be able to really assist the people who need your help, they must be put at ease as soon as they walk in the door.

Of course, the reception is as comfortable and relaxing as possible, receptionists are trained to be efficient while putting people at ease, but there are the formalities to get done, and this can be an opportunity to give reassurance and confidence to your patients.

An initial holistic health intake form, consultation form and medical history need to be taken followed by a consent form and for people coming for the first consultation this can be stressful. Clipboards and forms have never put people at ease.

That is why iPEGS paperless forms are such an amazing tool for alternative medicine practitioners, everyone is so used to digital devices nowadays, and the forms can be filled in either at the clinic or from home online using a mobile phone, tablet or computer and submitted directly to the cloud. They are quick and easy and as they are digital, they can be made easier to read for patients with poor eyesight, by simply zooming in or increasing the text size.

As well as electronic signatures, you can add photos and you can add your own branding and logos. You can create the forms from scratch with the easy to use form builder, or if you are too busy or a bit of a technophobe then you can get one of the iPEGS technicians to do it for you.

Holistic Health Consultation Form

By giving patients the option to fill in their medical history from home you will often find the resulting information to be far more complete. After all, how many of us can remember what we were doing last Thursday let alone what medication we were on five years ago.

Many patients have had years of ill health, being pumped full of chemicals. We all know how hard it can be to distinguish the ailment from the side effects of medication, so a full history needs to be done. By giving patients time, you have the opportunity to get a fuller account of their health problems a few days before their appointment, and are therefore able to study them in advance, saving crucial time in the actual consultation, even having the time for conferring with colleagues at the earliest stage.

Of course, your patient is of primary importance, but they are not the only person in the room, consent forms are a must and in an increasingly litigious world, protect not only the patient but also the practitioner. Making sure that your patient knows what treatment they are receiving is just good practice, having their agreement to the treatment on file might at some time be vital.

Up until recently a paper based holistic health consent form, had to do, and has since the stethoscope was invented, however, 5 years after the event how easy will it be to find? If you need copies or originals will it be legible, let’s face it, medical practitioners are not known for their calligraphy.

Now again you may well have the most efficient system in the world, but unless filing is your idea of relaxation, it’s a huge pain. Paper files are costly in space and time, not to mention resources, both natural and financial. Being able to pull up a patient’s records instantly saves time and allows you to spend more face time with your patient. It’s not just about covering your back but also about preventing having to.

Electronic Consultation Forms

So how do I get a form completed and signed by my patient:

Using a tablet, iPad or Smartphone you can access your electronic forms through the iPEGS apps, even without a Wi-Fi connection or via iPEGS Web Forms on any device. Simply open the form that you wish to be completed and once signed save or submit it. This is perfect in a face to face situation, free from the barrier, that a clipboard can create.

You can also send the medical history and/or consent form to the patient or guardian prior to their appointment using iPEGS Remote, again via email as a web form or via the free app. They would receive this form on their smartphone, or any device connected to the internet and complete, sign and submit back to you.

Is my patient’s information safe, what about data protection laws and GDPR?

Many laws states that patient records must be kept secure and confidential at all times. The UK data protection regime is set out in the DPA 2018 which replaces the Data Protection Act 1998, and came into effect on 25 May 2018, along with the GDPR (which also forms part of UK law). The law applies to any ‘processing of personal data’, and will catch most businesses and organisations, whatever their size and the law provides stronger protection for more sensitive information such as health related data.

All data submitted via iPEGS is encrypted, transmitted and stored securely. iPEGS is Cyber Essentials and IASME GDPR Governance Standard Certified so you can be confident your data is secure.

You can sign up for your free iPEGS Remote account and get 5 free form credits or sign up to the 30 day free trial of iPEGS Direct via the website.

Or if you would like to discuss the various options why not book in a call here or feel free to drop me an email: steve @ ipegs.co.uk

If you practise alternative medicine or holistic health therapies then why not go paperless today, reduce your carbon footprint, become more efficient and have more time to focus on your patients.

Acupuncture Consent Forms and Medical History Forms

March 11th, 2019 Posted by Acupuncture, Alternative Medicine, Consent forms, Consultation Forms, Medical History Form, Paperless No Comment yet

Medical History and Consent Forms in Acupuncture

As an Acupuncturist, you carry a huge responsibility for the welfare of your clients, many of whom have been suffering ill health for years. Often you are the last port of call, after mainstream medicine has failed to provide relief from a chronic condition.

Taking a thorough medical history of each new patient is your first step in providing for a patient’s needs, firstly you need to ensure that acupuncture is the appropriate treatment for your client. People often have an unclear idea of what acupuncture can do, after all acupuncture is not a miracle cure for anything, it is a science.

In obtaining their medical history, there is a need to gain a thorough understanding of a patient’s main complaint and general health and lifestyle. This involves asking questions about current symptoms as well as medical history, such things as sleeping patterns, appetite and digestion, emotional wellbeing. Women must be asked about their menstrual cycle and any past pregnancies and childbirth. The use of pharmaceutical products must be considered in detail, side effects are often hard to distinguish from the ailment. Some patients have suffered chronic conditions for years before considering acupuncture and have tried a series of treatments that have failed, so this medical history is a vital tool for achieving a successful outcome.

Getting that history can be a long and exhaustive process, you need to know as much about past treatments as possible and that can take time to remember.

Using an electronic consent form that can be sent in advance to the client, can gain a depth of information that is hard to get in a first consultation. All this information needs to be recorded and considered thoroughly before a treatment plan can be agreed and put into place.

By using iPEGS Remote paperless forms you can send out the questionnaire a week before the first appointment. It is totally secure and can be customised to suit the patient. They can fill in the history and return it using any connected device, be it smart phone, P.C. or tablet.

People are so accustomed to using communications technology these days, filling in a form at home in their own time can be so much less stressful than in a busy surgery, with limited time.

As for the practitioner you are receiving a fuller history in anticipation of your first consultation, even having time to consult with colleagues, if necessary. There can be a due date set for the form to be returned for just that purpose, with reminders embedded in the process. Once the form is sent, it is automatically filed, unlike paper forms there is no possibility of it being mislaid. It is a permanent record of your patient’s history and current condition.

Once you have had the opportunity to study this and meet your patient, you can explain your findings to them and ensure that they understand. Informing them clearly of the nature and purpose of any proposed treatment you gain their consent to treatment. This of course needs to be recorded.

Although consent may in the past have been taken as implied by a patient’s actions in turning up and lying on the treatment couch, explicit consent is now considered essential.

The law states that, consent must be given by a legally competent person, in some cases the next-of-kin. It must be given voluntarily and must be informed.

You must be able to prove you have sought explicit consent and ensure that the patient has understood what you propose to do. This is particularly important where treatment may involve sensitive areas of the body. It may be construed as an assault to examine or even prepare to treat someone without consent.

You cannot delegate the obtaining of consent to a receptionist or unqualified assistant. Informed consent requires that you as the practitioner (or an appropriately qualified colleague) have explained the procedure, been available to answer questions and able to satisfy yourself that the patient understands what they have been told. So it is up to you the practitioner not only to personally supervise treatment but also consent to treatment.

Having proof of consent is of course part of your duty of care not only to your patient but also for your practice.

So an acupuncture consent form must be signed very early on in the treatment process, again this consent form can be digital, secure and paperless. Using the iPEGS paperless forms, consent can be rapidly given, directly on to a tablet or even a mobile phone, even including a photo for confirmation. Instantaneously becoming a matter of record.

By using a iPEGS digital consent form, you can customise the form in real time, making changes without having to wait on printers, receptionists etc, time saved can be used in treating the patient, which after all is the object of the process.

Storing these Forms is also more complex than you might imagine.

You may well know you are legally required to keep patient records for a minimum of seven years. In the case of minors’ records must be kept until the patient reaches the age of twenty-five (seven years after reaching eighteen). Did you know that this applies even when you have referred the patient on, or you have left the practice where you administered the treatment?

There is also a legal requirement to retain original records which applies in the buying and selling of a practice and even with a patient’s consent, you must only pass on copies of the records, not the original notes?

Making copies of thousands of paper records is a mammoth task, digitally using iPEGS it can be done in a fraction of the time. You may not envisage selling the practice, but you will want to retire sometime.

You must also ensure that patients are kept fully informed and offered appropriate choices about their continuing care and the safe-keeping and location of their original records. Knowing that they are secured gives peace of mind to you and your patient. Doing this with thousands of separate paper documents is literally a forest of wasted time and space.

Patient records must be kept secure and confidential at all times. The UK data protection regime is set out in the DPA 2018 which replaces the Data Protection Act 1998, and came into effect on 25 May 2018, along with the GDPR (which also forms part of UK law). The law applies to any ‘processing of personal data’, and will catch most businesses and organisations, whatever their size and the law provides stronger protection for more sensitive information such as health related data.

Wouldn’t it be useful to get fuller more reliable patient histories?

Can you really afford to take risks with your patient’s records?

Can you afford the space and time that paper forms take up?

Wouldn’t it be simpler and more efficient to go digital and paperless, like many of your colleagues in the health sector are now doing?

Would you prefer not to have the worry of a disgruntled patient with a lost consent form?

If your answer is yes to any or all of the above, or if you are not sure, then why not get in touch, and let iPEGS take you through the process of going paperless.

We are all busy, but sometimes we have to invest time to save it, for our patients and our practice.

Just follow the links on this page and you can be up and running digitally in less than the time of an average consult. If you feel that you have questions you need answered that are not covered on the site, why not book in a call at a time that suits you best? You can do this via the link below and let us walk you through how iPEGS can help improve your processes:

https://calendly.com/ipegs/15-minute-phone-call/

For  more information please click here or feel free to drop me an email: steve @ ipegs.co.uk