Virtual Sally evolved because of the need to address inefficiencies experienced in our own physical therapy practice. Over 3 decades in business, we experienced a wide range of front office personnel – mostly good but some not so good. A pleasant and personable interaction with patients was mandatory. Efficient and accurate work, a must. However, we found with multiple locations employees would form friend groups within each office and efficiencies could be compromised. A therapist may want to leave office early and the receptionist would close the daily schedule to accommodate, causing the company to miss out on a potential walk-in. Copays were sometimes missed or not collected. If the receptionist had to suddenly be out for sickness or for another family matter, we had to scramble to cover. We had a receptionist at every clinic and the only place where theft occurred was at the front desk. We knew there had to be a way to provide the personal touch that current kiosk systems lacked but without the inherent inefficiencies, cost, or exposure of a dedicated receptionist.
In 2015, we decided to create a system based on live streaming video and point of sale technologies available at the time. A Skype session was created for each patient encounter and a video computer workstation would take the place of the reception desk. Numbered forms would be available on a wall file at the front desk and a scanner would be used to collect once completed. Self-serve credit card readers could facilitate payment and even a check scanner was added in a few offices.
Over the next four years, we continued to improve the system to eliminate the shortcomings. Patients became comfortable over time with the technology and some even left Christmas presents for their video receptionist! We continued to receive positive feedback from healthcare providers, many of whom suggested that we sell the system to other practices. So, in July 2019 we decided to build a system that could be sold to other practices.
Programming was difficult. We had to create a robust system that could incorporate all the daily functions of a front desk with a superior video interface in a compact form. It would have to operate as an independent workstation at each clinic and as a multifunction workstation at our central office capable of communicating with any clinic. It would have to allow receptionists to work multiple sites for economy of scale. We designed the system and started coding. Then, in early 2020 COVID-19 hit…
Suddenly, Zoom, Teams and Google Meet replaced in person meetings, and everyone became concerned with personal contact. Our timing could not have been better.
We completed development in November 2020 and first sale occurred in January 2021. Now Virtual Sally is a patent pending solution quickly gaining ground to significantly reduce front office cost, create efficiency, and improve the overall patient experience.