Practitioner Kit etc.

Here is some of the kit that we recommend to practitioners. You may find them cheaper on places like ebay, so it is worth looking. We may make a little from the Amazon Associates links, but only if you buy them from your own computer, not from a NatureDoc PC.

You might wonder why you need a tripod… well if you do virtual consultations, it is best that you keep the video separate from the computer so you can work on it at the same time, and you want your phone to be at eye height, so the other person is not looking up your nostrils!

We love this Selfie Stick Tripod kind of thing because they are small, light, don’t take up too much space on your desk, and are adjustable to most heights. Most mini tripods are too low, and larger ones have legs that stick out a long way.

If you have an iPhone with MagSafe, then consider the Talk Works stand. It is brilliant because you don’t have to connect anything. It just charges with Magsafe while you are using it. And it is really easy to swivel round between portrait and landscape calls.

If you already have a tripod that is the right height (that last bit is highly unlikely, by the way!), you can get a mount for your phone, like the Joby GripTight.

Gooseneck phone holder has the advantage that it takes up no desk space. I’ve tried out a few like this, and the best so far is this Lamicall one. It might be a bit bulky for travelling, but for home, it’s great.

If you want to use an iPad for video consultations. you can, and there are solutions like a Nootle iPad holder with a Sirui tabletop tripod which comes with a nice pouch that (just) fits both of them. But we don’t recommend that because it is not just bigger to carry around, but it is not easy to set it up at eye level. And because the iPad is bigger than a phone, it makes you look cross-eyed if you mount it landscape!

Laptop stand
Laptops are great, but you often end up with neck pain. So a laptop stand can be an excellent answer, both at home or in clinic. It simply raises the laptop, so the screen is at eye height.

For a fixed location, a gorgeous Twelve South Curve stand is worth considering. For travelling, we think the the Roost Laptop Stand (or a knock-off) is hard to beat. It’s really light, and packs away very small. Try using the code ROOST15OFF for a discount. We haven’t tried the knock-offs on Amazon, but they are well-reviewed.

You can’t use a laptop stand without a mouse/trackpad and keyboard. I also keep a spare Apple Magic Keyboard and Magic Mouse 2 in my bag, so I never forget to pack them. I have tried the Magic Trackpad, but didn’t get on with it. You can buy these from Apple or Amazon, but second hand from Ebay is usually significantly cheaper. Carrying them tidily can be done with this case.

We’re mostly paperless now, and we’ve done it by scanning huge amounts of paper. It’s got to be easy, otherwise it isn’t going to happen. We have an amazing Brother scanner. It scans 35 sheets a minute double-sided with the press of a button, and then plonks a OCR/searchable PDF in a folder on your PC/Mac at the touch of the one button on the scanner or in your email. But maybe its best use is a emailing printed invoices straight into Xero with one button, and Xero automatically prepopulates a bill.

For portable scanning, an iPhone with Scanner Pro, connected to Dropbox is excellent.

Better WiFi
You may have your broadband router some distance from where you do video consultations, and that could easily be causing break-up of image and audio. Just because you get some signal doesn’t mean you have enough for good 2-way video. The simplest way of setting up better broadband is probably using powerline boosters. This will normally result in a second WiFi Network which should not overlap frequencies with the first one, as otherwise, you are likely to get slower speeds. Hopefully your device will switch to the strongest signal, but you might have to do it manually. We haven’t used this TP-Link one, but it has good reviews, and seems like a cheap way of getting good WiFi fast. This will usually result in better Skype calls than a mesh system, especially if you have thick walls. But it’s not as straightforward to set up.

If you prefer a mesh system, there are a lot on the market, As you will see below, I like Ubiquiti products, so even though I haven’t used this, if I was going for a mesh system, I’d use a Ubiquiti Amplifi HD.

Internet Provider

Boradband is brilliant when it works, and horrendous when it doesn’t. Uually BT Openreach is the monopolistic infrastructure provider, and they are the ones who provide the service, so whether you get it from BT, Zen or some other provider, you get pretty much the same result.

That said, we like and recommend Zen Broadband, as their customer service, in the face of BT Openreach’s incompetence, is helpful.

However, recently, we moved from Zen to BT Business for two reasons:

  1. Despite months of hassling them, and multiple visits, BT Openreach were unable or unwilling to fix the line reliably, so we decided to take out a completely new line and insist on it taking a different physical route that would be easier to fix in future.
  2. BT Business have a 4G backup service included, called 4G Assure. It cuts in automatically if the line fails. That’s a really good service. We hated having to deal with BT in order to set it up. And BT Openreach were even worse. They missed their apointment and then took another two weeks to come back. But at time of writing, it is working.

Do not think for a second that you will get better service from BT Openreach because you have broadband from BT. It makes no difference at all to the abysmal service.

Always check prices with uswitch before making any commitment, as they will often have cheaper deals if you go via them.

You may find that wired broadband doesn’t work very well in your area, and today, mobile broadband routers, such as this one from EE can be superb to replace dodgy broadband. Prices have come right down recently.

Information Commissioner

If you are collecting or working with personal information, then you need to register with the Information Commissioner. It’s not that difficult, and costs £40 a year. Find out more here.