Preventive treatments amid the coronavirus pandemic

A business expert from Lahav, a Bank Hapoalim branch manager and two owners of private clinics explain how to cope with the financial crisis – and even emerge from it stronger.

Bank Hapoalim (photo credit: AVIV GOTTLIEB)
Bank Hapoalim
(photo credit: AVIV GOTTLIEB)
How to work with high-risk clients who stop coming for treatment over infection concerns • How to manage the situation when guidelines regarding physical contact with patients are insufficiently clear • And why “vital service” status offers a sense of purpose • A business expert from Lahav, a Bank Hapoalim branch manager and two owners of private clinics explain how to cope with the financial crisis – and even emerge from it stronger 

Yael Isaacson 
We provided remote check-ups and support
“I’m a licensed nurse with two degrees from Israel and abroad, and with two clinics, one in Bnei Brak and the other in Beersheba, specializing in hard-to-heal wounds – pressure ulcers, infections, diabetics’ wounds etc. In Israel, this field is not well developed – diagnosis is not always accurate and doctors are quick to resort to amputation. We use our specialist knowledge and abilities to tackle the wounds and to successfully save lives. Most of our activity is in Bnei Brak, with haredi  (ulra-Orthodox) clients. We moved to a new clinic on the border of Ramat Gan and Bnei Brak at the start of the year, which came with a significant financial burden. The work was progressing wonderfully – and then the novel coronavirus struck.
“Despite being included among the list of vital services, which allowed our clinics to remain open, we went from almost full capacity to almost zero treatments during the lockdown. Our patients simply stopped coming for fear of infection. At the end of the day, most of our patients have additional risk factors that put them in a high-risk group. What we did was to provide remote check-ups and guidance using cameras and mobile phones. It was not easy – the haredi community does not use Zoom calls and only have “kosher” phones, but we found solutions and continued to offer treatment.
“Over time, people’s fears subsided, and now we’re back at around 60% activity. I was always on the move and didn’t spend any time trapped at home, which also gave me a feeling that I was needed and a sense of purpose. Beyond that, I’m always on the lookout for additional solutions for treating these hard-to-heal wounds, and at the peak of the coronavirus I was put in touch with an Israeli start-up that has a product called ActiGraft, a “biological bandage” that is able to serve as a substitute for skin grafts and amputations. I’m one of the first people to sign up for their product, which I believe will revolutionize the field in Israel and around the world.”
The writer is the owner of “Wound Clinic” for the treatment of hard-to-heal wounds
Beersheba and Bnei Brak. Tel: 054-3532848
Michael Pichenuk - owner of the “Athleticlinic” physiotherapy and sports injury rehabilitation clinicMichael Pichenuk - owner of the “Athleticlinic” physiotherapy and sports injury rehabilitation clinic
Michael Pichenuk
One patient can bring a whole clinic to a halt
“I’m a Ministry of Health-licensed physiotherapist, and I opened my clinic in 2017. The focus is on rehabilitating orthopedic injuries, especially sporting injuries. The clinic was coming along nicely, on an upward trajectory. We were on the verge of moving to a new and much larger site, and we had just started the process of signing the contract – but as soon as the coronavirus struck we stopped everything. The decline in capacity started to be felt when patients started going into isolation and had to cancel treatments.
“There was a degree of uncertainty surrounding our conduct during the lockdown – what was and wasn’t allowed, even though we were regarded as a vital sector. The Israeli Association of Physiotherapists did issue guidelines, but those weren’t always clear either – is contact allowed? Is it not? In our line of work, you have to be close to the patient, and often to touch them. If their knee is inflamed, you have to check where the pain is coming from — and that can’t be done from two meters away. There was also a lack of clarity regarding whether the virus could be transmitted via touch or via droplets in the air. Considering that at least half of our patients are older people, some stopped coming by their own choice, while others we asked not to come, even though they wanted to. We reduced our workload and only took on urgent cases, such as post-operation rehabilitation.
“We came out of lockdown in May, but it took us nearly two months to recover. We are extremely careful when it comes to protective measures: patients are kept apart and in different areas, every patient is sanitized with wipes and spray before the session starts, and the same is true of the equipment, including the treatment tables. So now we’re back at full capacity, but at any given moment that could drop to zero without warning. It’s enough for one patient to be carrying the virus and the whole clinic is brought to a halt. We work every day as if tomorrow we’ll be forced to close. That’s the reality of the situation.”
The writer is the owner of the “Athleticlinic” physiotherapy and sports injury rehabilitation clinic.
31 David Remez Street, Netanya. Tel: 054-4724761
Shlomi Lahana - marketing and business strategist and a lecturer in marketing at the College of ManagementShlomi Lahana - marketing and business strategist and a lecturer in marketing at the College of Management
Shlomi Lahana
Maximize the benefits of satisfied clients
“The private clinic sector is one that is inherently built on client confidence, as it offers medical services that come with a certain level of risk. As the client is unable to “test” the product before purchasing it, they are likely to invest more time seeking information before arriving at a decision. This means that the digital presence in this sector must be stellar. To minimize any potential concerns, it is highly recommended to integrate satisfied clients into this digital presence, and have them talking about their personal stories. I liked the fact that Yael and Michael both employ this strategy on their websites. An additional factor that would-be clients will take into consideration when doing their research is the people behind the business. With the ‘Wound Clinic’ website, we see that Yael appears front and center, giving visitors a human face to the business to which it is easy it is easy to connect. With Athleticlinic, we’re missing the faces of the people behind the clinic. Remember – people are instantly drawn to faces on websites, especially those that radiate professionalism and empathy.”
The writer is a marketing and business strategist and a lecturer in marketing at the College of Management
Ilan Koren - manager of the Eshel branch of BankIlan Koren - manager of the Eshel branch of Bank
Ilan Koren
Invest in client retention
“During these turbulent times, it is important to pay particular attention to retaining existing clients who are unable to visit clinics to receive non-urgent medical treatment and/or services. There are a range of methods to achieve this – Zoom, WhatsApp, telephone etc. It goes without saying that it is important to adhere to the Ministry of Health guidelines, to offer clients a sense of confidence and safety when receiving services. In addition, especially at this time, there are opportunities there to create new client databases that can serve as a foundation for the continued growth of the business. This is also the time to go over the company’s expenses and examine possible avenues to reduced spending – assessing contracts with suppliers, cutting down on non-vital expenses etc. I would also add that banks are offering loan deferrals for businesses as well as additional options for boosting working capital, most notably state-backed loans.
”The writer is the manager of the Eshel branch of Bank 
Poalim – with you in every decision
As the economy continues to grapple with the outbreak of COVID-19, Ma’ariv and Bank Hapoalim are running a special feature, sharing and following stories of businesses in different regions and sectors and offering insight and support in coping with the current crisis and uncertainty. Every week, we will share practical tools, as well as offering insight and guidance into opportunities for financial and business development and growth in this challenging environment. The information contained herein is accurate as of the day of publication, and should not be understood as an alternative to professional consulting services that take into account the specific circumstances of the individual and are tailored to meet their needs. Subject to the terms and conditions of the bank, inability to keep up with payments may incur charges on interest in arrears or repossession proceedings.