Online Business
April 3, 2020 1:23 PM   Subscribe

A friend of mine is a speech therapist. Due to social distancing and quarantine, she is finding a lot of business success with online speech therapy. What other service related business which have traditionally been face-to-face will also become successful in a Zoom connected world? For example, I would imagine some form of physical therapy could be achieved remotely, albeit not as effective as face-to-face.
posted by jasondigitized to Work & Money (24 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Personal training! My Pilates studio is obviously closed, but instructors are still offering small group classes (1-5 people) via Zoom and they’re honestly 80-90% as good as in-person classes.

They are also offering private training sessions; I haven’t booked one yet, but hope to do so soon. I assume they too will be almost as good as in-person sessions.

I hope some Zoom fitness options stick around once the pandemic is over. While they’re just a convenience for me, I think they could be life-changing for people who are new to exercise, embarrassed, and/or wary of feeling othered in a class environment.
posted by shb at 1:59 PM on April 3, 2020 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Weight Watchers is holding virtual weekly workshops via Zoom. It seems to be working well so far. Churches have been holding various kinds of worship and prayer services via Zoom.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 2:04 PM on April 3, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Lawyering, at least for transactional law.
posted by HotToddy at 2:47 PM on April 3, 2020 [2 favorites]

Best answer: My latest therapy appt was on zoom: I'm 61, and my therapist is 69. I think this is probably a natural fit, really.
posted by ivanthenotsoterrible at 3:16 PM on April 3, 2020 [4 favorites]

Zoom has taken off (I think mainly due to the low barrier to entry) and I just want to spread the word here that they have a terrible track record with regards to privacy and security. Please use an alternative service especially if you're running a business and care about your customers' privacy and security.

I'm sad to read that the commenter above me has used this for therapy. The below update is from the Zoom website :

Update March 2020: There are now serious concerns about the security of Zoom. This creates doubts about using Zoom for communicating medical information, which needs to be fully protected under HIPAA. Zoom has publicly committed to upgrading its security and fixing all security problems. Until the security issues with Zoom are resolved, alternative telemedicine solutions should be used.
posted by McNulty at 4:50 PM on April 3, 2020 [5 favorites]

Correction the above quote was from the website, on their page about Zoom.
posted by McNulty at 4:57 PM on April 3, 2020 [1 favorite]

If you want to read more on why Zoom is terrible, you can do so on the blue: Zoom at your own risk.
posted by sideshow at 5:03 PM on April 3, 2020 [3 favorites]

Best answer: My partner has been teaching prenatal classes via Zoom alternates. While it took some rearranging of the house and their head around technical difficulties it has been pretty smooth.
posted by Ashwagandha at 5:20 PM on April 3, 2020 [1 favorite]

A lot of organised telemedecine is using Twilio, which has pretty good rates for calls, texts, and video RTC.
posted by parmanparman at 5:23 PM on April 3, 2020

A lot of therapists who never wanted to touch telehealth are 1) now scrambling to learn how to do it, and 2) being provided a lot more free resources (e.g. APA sent out a 6 hour long webinar) to utilize. States are also relaxing a lot of their rules (e.g. you have to be licensed in the state your client resides in) and while some of those may return others may be permanently more flexible. I expect when the dust settles, a lot more people will be providing online therapy.
posted by brook horse at 5:47 PM on April 3, 2020 [1 favorite]

But they probably won't be using Zoom, for the aforementioned reasons. As a student trainee I use
posted by brook horse at 5:48 PM on April 3, 2020 [1 favorite]

Seconding therapy. DrMsEld's office has transitioned to 100% telehealth and, exempting some more in-depth kid evals that she hasn't figured out how to do remotely, will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. That includes basic therapy, group therapy, telepsychiatry with a MD, and a psych nurse practitioner doing med management.
posted by RolandOfEld at 6:15 PM on April 3, 2020 [1 favorite]

Music lessons and art lessons I think will take off! Maybe interior decorating or organization, too.
posted by shortyJBot at 6:49 PM on April 3, 2020 [1 favorite]

My physical therapy sessions have shifted to online meetings. It's OK--certainly better than not doing it--but I would not imagine this becoming the wave of the future. I have had problems in the past that absolutely required hands-on work, and that's obviously not possible. In addition, my PTs office has a much wider range of gear than I do at home and so the kinds of work we can do together is much more constrained by what I have on hand.
posted by Sublimity at 7:03 PM on April 3, 2020 [2 favorites]

My sister is an MD and has been doing telemedicine for the last few weeks. A friend in Texas had a telemedicine appointment yesterday. Both my sister and my friend say this works particularly well if there is already a good doctor/patient relationship. I have no idea what platform either of them used. My sis is a civilian working for US military so they probably have some special program.
posted by mareli at 7:11 PM on April 3, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: ironically, my son's hand occupational therapy has transitioned seamlessly to virtual visits. I was super skeptical because it's his hands! but it was amazing what they were able to do.
posted by tafetta, darling! at 7:45 PM on April 3, 2020 [1 favorite]

Big picture, I think nearly all service industries were slowly going in this direction already, and the lockdown just accelerated it. Kind of like how everyone saw e-commerce as being the wave of the future in like 1999, but the infrastructure was just like Yahoo Stores or whatever it was called. Then as user-friendly out-of-the-box shopping cart software became available, you saw even small mom-and-pop retailers start adopting it. Ten years from now, kids will wonder why there were offices just like kids now wonder why there were malls.
posted by kevinbelt at 7:48 PM on April 3, 2020 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I think certain types of doctor visits will shift to this model. I wouldn’t be surprised if a huge practice with lots of doctors had one who was reserved just for this sort of appointment. For example, I have been on the same asthma inhaler for probably 25 years. There is no reason I should have to go in for a prescription renewal if nothing has changed and everything is stable. Or how about paediatrician checkups where no immunization are scheduled. My three year old’s most recent birthday visit was 99% ‘let’s talk about the answers you gave on the developmental questionnaire you filled out’ and most of that was stuff like is his speech comprehensible to outsiders and does he follow two-step instructions. No reason I couldn’t fill that out online and have the ped call me to discuss.
posted by ficbot at 9:16 PM on April 3, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Not just personal training but gyms - my gym has had 30 people doing Zumba in their living rooms over Zoom.
posted by penguin pie at 4:20 AM on April 4, 2020 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I was incredibly hesitant to formally teach yoga over the internet, but Zoom has been fabulous. I teach group guided classes for all levels, and I also teach a great deal of one-on-one. Mysore style Ashtanga yoga is a methodology for learning yoga at your own pace, one-on-one with a teacher, in a group setting. I also shocked at how potent TeleYoga is.

Would you forgive the plug? Here’s my website which includes all kinds of offerings. I’m stoked— send me a note and start practicing. ;)

I look forward to keeping this format into the time post social-distance.
posted by MichaelJoelHall at 6:12 AM on April 4, 2020 [2 favorites]

I've been taking belly dance classes for years - this session my teacher switched over to Zoom. She's not teaching choreography, but is doing drills and combos. I'm surprised at how similar the experience is to being in the studio with my classmates. This also allows people who've wanted to study with her but live far away to do so.

She also started a class during lunchtime as a movement break for people who work from home, which I was able to drop in on, and that was also great.
posted by Sparky Buttons at 6:21 AM on April 4, 2020

My CrossFit gym also transitioned to online classes and they seem to have significant attendance. No idea what kind of retention percentages we're talking about, though.

CrossFit has a big social/communitybuilding component, and a big part of what keeps me motivated to participate remotely is that I really like the owner and the coaches. I've been a member since the start of the year, so not very long, but long enough to feel known, for my specific capabilities and challenges to be appreciated and supported.

That said, some of the things that drew me to CrossFit are just plain not present. I have worked from home for years; going to the gym meant being in the presence of other actual, live human beings. Zoom in my dining room ain't the same. As mentioned above, the friendliness and group culture of CF made this more enjoyable than the standard gym I've belonged to for years--no way I'd be motivated for group classes by my old gym (which, incidentally, is still charging membership fees even though they've been closed for weeks, and there is no mechanism available to quit one's membership. If I was ambivalent about them before, I really hate them now.)

Also, with CF, I loved being able to just walk in and do whatever was on for the day. No planning on my part, no worries about equipment: it was all set up and all I had to do was show up and move my body. That was a huge part of the appeal and this is not true now, when I need to figure out the computer and find the space in my modestly sized apartment for whatever the day's activity is, and kludge together something to be a weight, because I don't have a lot of equipment at home. Also, I benefited a lot from direct coaching about form and that's almost completely gone in the video-workout environment, definitely not at all like being present in person.

Peloton of course seems to have hit a sweet spot of online group workouts--everyone has the same equipment, is in the same club. But it seems to me that there's a point when an online group workout doesn't differ too much from a plain old exercise video and those have been around for years.
posted by Sublimity at 6:22 AM on April 4, 2020

Yoga teachers/thinkers Theodora Wildcroft (UK), Matthew Remski (Canada), and Jivana Heyman (US) have had interesting thoughts on this move to online spaces collectively for small studios, solo teachers, especially given that there are huge commercial streaming yoga video platforms already, and a zillion free yoga videos on Youtube etc.

What has been so appealing about in-person classes and what, if any, of those elements can be created online? This is their incomplete list from Remski's blog:
They enjoy the scheduled trip out of the home or on the way to work dedicated to self-care.
They enjoy the body-buzz of the room: they’re inspired by others moving beside and around them.
They want hands-on help from the instructor.
They enjoy the togetherness, and sometimes find common cause beyond the mat.
They want direct communication with, feedback from, and attunement with the instructor.

Let’s call these the IRL values. What’s not on this list is the visual demonstration/ performance of postures. The streaming formats have that locked up.

... To my eye, the IRL values that can be sustainably approximated in online / streaming / webinar formats are expressed in #5. Communication, feedback, and attunement are NOT on offer from existing streaming services — and certainly not from celebrities. (Levels of attunement are likely inversely proportional to the celebrity of the teacher.)

But #5 is exactly what independent teachers and studio owners seeking to maintain connection with their long-term students and communities can actually provide. For a while it may seem as though a certain portion of your business is willing to play Simon Says on Zoom along with you, but stripped of the IRL values that Zoom in the long term cannot provide, I can’t see how this will last.
I note their countries not because I am a huge booster of the nation-state but because I think it's interesting that this is a Anglosphere-international conversation.
posted by spamandkimchi at 11:01 AM on April 4, 2020

Unrelatedly, I think music lessons might do alright via videoconferencing. I've been hanging out with a close friend's kid via Zoom for regular Mon-Fri sessions and since we (the kid and I) both have keyboards, we've been learning to play piano together. It's surprisingly not awful, given the virtual format, and given that I am no piano teacher. I basically I had to relearn how to read music a few years back after decades of not playing.
posted by spamandkimchi at 11:04 AM on April 4, 2020

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