For the last decade, there's been a lot of talk about the digital transformation of healthcare and for certain it is an exciting time to be in Private Practice. The technology that is now available, when used effectively, is transformative to a private practice owner.
But for most counsellors, therapists or coaches it's still not clear what all this means in practice. Is it a new website? Is it an app? Or is it something else entirely? In this post I'll dive into what I've found to be the most important fundamental aspects of digital transformation for private practice: privacy, accessibility, customisation and value for money, and how the most professional practices make it all invisible.
The services of a therapist have never been so accessible as they are now. It has created some brand new challenges, but given the tidal wave of demand for services it is a genie that is not going back in the bottle. Your services are no longer restricted to referral, or prescription. You can, in a digital age, meet the people who need you, the people who choose you, to help revive or restore their mental health.
Turn on your computer and type "therapist" into the search. Here your imperative is to be appropriately trained, to be easily visible, and easy to book a discovery call with. A typical google search for a purchase like therapy takes minutes, and consumers now demand instant outcomes. This is where technology comes in handy: on a functional e-commerce level it performs the dual task of meeting your clients expectations, as well as ensuring that your time is valued and spent doing the things that help you grow a private practice. One smooth pathway, a series of simple clicks that culminate in that all important human connection.
This is the latest frontier of change, being visible and accessible is pulling on consumer behaviour rather than 'patient' behaviour. Your clients look for that perfect combination of skills, experience and style to connect with. And when they see it, they expect a professional and slick service that doesn't tie them up in organising administration.
I believe that this technology should be invisible in private practice. Serving the dual purpose of satisfying prospective clients, as well as protecting your time, keeping you organised and secure.
Clients are also influencing the types of services as consumers, from single-sessions to text/email or even group. However you customise and personalise your services, you can also deploy technology for a professional service that will be one that you are proud to offer. And that your clients will be delighted with.
Any technology services you use contributing to your practice, they are your business partners. The patient has a right to privacy. This is a legal and ethical responsibility that we all have as practitioners, but it's also something you should consider in your own practice as well.
Privacy is not just about protecting the patient's information from hackers; it's also about giving them control over their own data and keeping sensitive information out of the hands of third parties who may misuse it or sell it for profit without your knowledge or consent. It can be difficult for some patients to accept this level of control when they're used to having little say over what happens with their data, but once they do realise that they have choices--and that those choices are actually good ones--they'll be happy with their new partnership with technology!
Value for money
You are a business owner, and as such are looking to provide a profitable service. Making a profit means you are equipped to invest in yourself and your services over time, keeping up to date and expanding your skills. In these challenging times, it is easy to consider that not many people can afford your services. This is not universally the case, and whilst you can reach people that would find full fees difficult, you can run core services profitably, and technology is not the additional, nice to have cost that it used to be. Using technology to manage your time, and booking process, means that your availability is clear and without the pain of no-shows or double-bookings. Use a system with integrated video so that you are offering the maximum convenience to clients. And of course, invoicing to make sure you are paid on time.
It's simple: by making technology invisible in your practice.
People are looking for therapeutic services and if used wisely, technology can make that connection quickly and safely for both therapist and client alike.
Great technology should be invisible. A bit like the battery in your smartphone. As long as the phone works - then that is what we need.
Whilst technology has some more challenges in store for this sector in the near future as we grapple with quality and privacy being online, right now, you can put it to great use in these areas, and reap the rewards.