How to Grow Your Practice During the Pandemic: Part 2

How to Grow Your Practice During the Pandemic: Part 2

What are some things you can be doing right now to help your practice? Which platforms can you use to get yourself set up for Telehealth? How do you market a Telehealth practice?

In this podcast takeover episode, Alison Pidgeon and Whitney Owens do a 3 part series about how to grow your practice during the pandemic and short term goals.

In This Podcast

Summary

  • Telehealth
  • Platforms to use for Telehealth
  • Things to keep in mind
  • Marketing your Telehealth practice

Telehealth

The most important thing to do right now is to go into Telehealth. Because you can’t go to your offices to see your clients.

Check your State Boards and find out what the laws are in your State for Telehealth. Find out what the regulations and requirements are.

Platforms to use for Telehealth

Fortunately on the Federal level they’ve changed some of the HIPAA guidelines and we can communicate with our clients any way that we need to, HIPAA compliant or not.

Because of the tremendous need for clinicians to be able to see their clients, lots of rules have been relaxed during this time around using HIPAA compliant platforms.

Some platforms you can use:

Things to keep in mind

  • Can you have multiple people on the platform at once
  • Have paperwork for Telehealth in place
  • Minimize your admin by switching to an EHR

Marketing your Telehealth practice

Do some things that are outside the box, because we’re living in a time that’s outside the box.

  • Make sure that you have good SEO on your website surrounding coronavirus and anxiety
  • Write very specific blogs pertaining to the pandemic
  • Use a pop-up box on your website so let visitors know that you are only doing Telehealth (advised by Kevin from Ardent Healers)
  • Do a free support group on Zoom
  • People are really looking for connection right so social media is a good thing to focus on
  • Offer booster/check-in sessions
  • Reach out to some past clients

Schedule an appointment with Alison here!

Schedule an appointment with Whitney here!

Grow Your Practice to a Group Practice with Start and Scale a Group Practice Mastermind!

Useful Links:

Meet Alison Pidgeon and Whitney Owens

Alison Pidgeon, LPC is the owner of Move Forward Counseling, a group practice in Lancaster, PA and she runs a virtual assistant company, Move Forward Virtual Assistants.

She is also a business consultant for Practice of the Practice. What started out as a solo private practice in early 2015 quickly grew into a group practice and has been expanding ever since.

 

Whitney is a licensed professional counselor and owns a growing group practice, Waters Edge Counseling in Savannah, Georgia. She is also a business consultant for Practice of the Practice.

Along with a wealth of experience managing a practice, she also has an extensive history working in a variety of clinical and religious settings, allowing her to specialize in consulting for faith-based practices and those wanting to connect with religious organizations.

Thanks For Listening!

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Podcast Transcription

[ALISON]: Welcome to the Practice of the Practice podcast. This is a podcast takeover with Alison pigeon.
[WHITNEY]: And Whitney Owens.
[ALISON]: Today we’re going to be talking all about how to grow your practice during the pandemic. And today we are in the middle of our series or we’re doing three parts and today is our second episode and we’re talking all about short-term goals. So, what are things that we can be doing right now to help our practices? So how are you doing Whitney?
[WHITNEY]: I’m doing good. I’m excited about this topic. I have noticed that not only our short-term goals are important, but long-term goals. And so yeah, being able to talk about that today and then tomorrow being able to talk about long-term goals, I think that’ll go really well together.
[ALISON]: Yeah. Awesome. So, what do you think you’ve been kind of experiencing in your own practice and maybe seeing other practice owners kind of doing, since everything’s been really escalating with the coronavirus the past couple of weeks? What do you think practice owners should be focused on or what are they already doing in terms of, you know, still trying to grow their practice right now?
[WHITNEY]: I think the most important part is getting on telehealth platforms. You know, at least here we now have a shelter in place, order stay at home, shelter in place. And so telehealth is pretty much a must at this point because we can’t go into our offices to see our clients. And I know in different places, we were talking before they started recording that there are some places in the country that haven’t had the virus get to them and that’s great. And it’d be great if we could just say it’s not going to, but it probably is. And so, I think, I wish I had prepared a little bit more before these orders went into place. So, if you haven’t started thinking about telehealth or set up your practice for telehealth, that would be my highest recommendation to you so that you’re prepared for when those orders go into place, you’re ready to go.
[ALISON]: Yeah, I was actually just talking to somebody on a pre consulting call yesterday who is out in Idaho. It’s my first call from Idaho, which was exciting. And yeah, he said they don’t really have many restrictions at all yet and I was kind of telling him exactly what you just said, like, it’s coming, so get ready. And I think it was sort of like the light, I could tell the light bulb kind of turned on. Like I could tell his voice kind of changed and he was like, “Oh, okay.” I don’t think people, you know, if you’re not in a place where it’s really become very restrictive, what you’re allowed to do, I think it’s hard to sort of wrap your mind around. So, take it from all of us who are currently going through it. We’re in a pretty hardcore quarantine at this point as well. So, you know, definitely get prepared now because you don’t want it to sort of feel like, “Oh my gosh, now this is all happening and I don’t, I’m not sure what to do or I don’t have a plan.”
[WHITNEY]: Yeah. So, we’re going to walk you through some things you can do for telehealth. The first one I would say is to check your state boards and find out what the laws are in your state for telehealth, if it’s something that is offered in your area and what that is, if you can do phone, if it all is video, and then finding out what the regulations are with that and what the requirements are. I am actually in the state of Georgia and the requirement here is that you must have six hours of continuing education in telehealth before you can do a telehealth session.
[ALISON]: Oh, that’s interesting because here in Pennsylvania, we don’t have any sort of regulation like that. You can just do it.
[WHITNEY]: That is very good for you. So, like, because I have W2 employees, you know, I’m responsible for them and what they’re doing with their clients. So, I had to find the telehealth platform, not only the platform but the education for them and get them all registered for it. And then I’m actually paying while they’re taking the courses, you know? And so, it kind of was a lot on me to like get that all put together, but oh, so proud of my staff. I mean we all got those six hours done in like three days, I think. So, I was really proud of them. But yeah, definitely make sure you’re checking out what is the law in your state. And, I mean I am just seeing, we were talking about this before, there’s so many laws that are getting lifted and changed so that we can make this process easier. So, it’s really important that we’re all taking some time to like really read through what the laws are in your area.
[ALISON]: Yeah, I’m amazed at how much, you know, the state by state kind of limitations are sort of going away. Like the state of North Carolina basically like said, anybody who’s a licensed provider can see a resident of North Carolina. Like there was no restriction at all. So, I mean that’s amazing.
[WHITNEY]: Yeah, it’s really great because boy, if a client is going through this terrible crisis and then they find out they can’t see their therapist anymore because they’re in a different state, that’s stressful.
[ALISON]: Yeah, for sure. So definitely, yeah, things are changing fast, so it would be good to check that out.
[WHITNEY]: Yeah. I think the other big question that people have is what platforms do I use for telehealth? Fortunately, on the federal level, they’ve changed some of the HIPAA guidelines as far as we can communicate with our clients now any way that we need to, HIPAA-compliant or not because we just need to be able to communicate with our clients.
[ALISON]: Right. So, they relaxed the rules around using HIPAA-compliant platforms just during this time that we’re under like a national emergency. I’m sure at some point it’ll probably go back to the way it was, but for right now it’s nice to not have to be like so concerned about every little detail related to HIPAA, because you know, obviously people are going through super stressful times. So, you know, sometimes your HIPAA-compliant platform isn’t working because it’s overwhelmed by every therapist in the world trying to get on it right now. So, it’s nice to know you have like a backup plan.
[WHITNEY]: Yeah. That’s kind of how I’ve seen it too. We’ve been doing a HIPAA-compliant platform because if I’m going to get telehealth going in my practice, I might as well do it. You know, so having to go back and change it later and then we’ve got other things as a backup just in case.
[ALISON]: Yeah, me too.
[WHITNEY]: Yeah. So, Alison, do you want to talk some about the different kinds of platforms people can use for telehealth?
[ALISON]: Yeah, so some people have telehealth platforms like integrated into their EHR. So, [inaudible 00:25:27] has one Simple Practice has one, and then there’s other just sort of standalone platforms. One is called doxy.me, which we use, which has always up until, you know, they got overwhelmed with therapists, who always worked really well for us. There’s VSee (V, S, E, E) which I think you have to download something to be able to use. But that was free. I’m not so sure if it’s free anymore. Lots of things are changing with that too, just because again, lots more users are on those sites. I’m trying to think if there’s any more, Oh, I guess you could pay for the sort of like HIPAA-compliant version of Zoom, right?
[WHITNEY]: Yeah. It’s pretty pricey. It’s $200.
[ALISON]: Yeah. And then I’ve heard of another one called RegroupConnect. I’ve never used it, but I’ve heard other therapists talking about it.
[WHITNEY]: Yeah. People have spoken pretty highly about it in groups. But I do like the idea with the HIPAA-compliance not being as strict, you know, the option to use Zoom is there if it’s necessary, especially for people who are running groups and then needing to, you know, they don’t want to stop their group but they can’t quite afford the higher level. They can just use it until they can get back together, you know, just as a temporary during this time.
[ALISON]: Right. Yeah, so, that’s the other thing you have to pay attention to. Like can you have multiple people on at once? Like you can resume and you know, if you run groups you’re definitely going to need something like that versus like, do you just need the sort of like one on one because I know like in our EHR fairness there was like different subscriptions and obviously different prices depending on what you wanted, like if you wanted more of like a group format versus just an individual session. So that’s something to look at too.
[WHITNEY]: Yeah. We also did doxy.me and it was really easy. Like I’ve loved it. It’s kind of fun. I have my own little virtual office and my clients are in the waiting room virtually and I was able to set up an account for all my therapists and get a BAA in place. So, I had a really good experience. I know a lot of people have said doxy.me got overwhelmed, but knock on wood, I guess we’ve been having a good experience with it.
[ALISON]: Yeah, that’s great. Yeah, we’ve always used it too, until like things really started escalating with the coronavirus and then we were like, “Wait, we can’t even get on. No, this isn’t good.”
[WHITNEY]: Yeah. Another important thing, and you’ll have to also look at your laws about this, is having paperwork for telehealth.
[ALISON]: Yeah. We actually I, this was really good foresight on my part. I don’t know how I could have predicted all of this, but we actually integrated it into our informed consent last year. So, it’s like a separate clause in there and it just says like if you elect to use telehealth, here’s the consent for that. So, what’s nice is that like the majority of our clients have already signed it.
[WHITNEY]: That is really nice. I actually, just in kind of getting all that together and we created a separate document because honestly most of our clients never really have asked about telehealth. So, it’s never really been necessary but now we’ll have a separate document that they signed just acknowledging that they, you know, want to use telehealth and kind of go in through the platform. And we included some information, like how do you use telehealth? Like how to prepare, like for example, things that you’d be surprised people don’t know, like, actually get to a comfortable place to sit, be prepared for your session, have your headsets on, have the lighting in your face, not behind you. You know, simple things so that we can have a good session. So, we include that as well as talking about the benefits and risks and all those other things that come with the telehealth consent form.
[ALISON]: Oh nice, that’s a good idea.
[WHITNEY]: Oh yeah. People have lots of questions. Like when they come on, you know they’re like, “Wait, did I prepare right? Did I do what I was supposed to do?” And I’m like, “It’s okay.” I guess that’s how we are when we come in for an actual session too. But yeah.
[ALISON]: Right, right.
[WHITNEY]: So, another thing I was thinking about, we were talking about short-term goals and this is funny because this is what I’m going through now is converting into an EHR. So EHR is Electronic Health Record. I have been running my practice by paper until now, which I just think is hilarious. It’s so old school. But I love to, just writing my notes and being done in the middle of the, you know, at the end of the session when the client walked out, I’m done. But the practice was just getting too big, like there were too many clients and then it was making a really a lot of work for my admin. So, we actually started switching to the EHR right before this happened. So it has made for some craziness but I think if you as a practice owner are a group, especially a group practice owner with a lot of clients at your practice, you really need to consider switching to an EHR because your paper records are only going to go for so long.
[ALISON]: Yeah, and then, I mean, think about the logistics of like now everybody’s at home seeing clients, like what are they going to do? Like cart several file boxes like home with them?
[WHITNEY]: I know, yeah.
[ALISON]: You know? Yeah. Like yeah, that just seems like totally unwieldy.
[WHITNEY]: Yes, and it does make the getting paperwork back and forth difficult. You know, for new clients you don’t want them to have to scan and email and do all that stuff. We want to make things as simple for our clients as possible. They already have enough barriers getting them into the door of therapy, the virtual door, I guess. And so yeah, being able to get everything done through an EHR really make things a lot easier for the practice. And so, this is kind of giving us that kick we need to get it done quickly.
[ALISON]: Yeah. Nice. One thing I want to just talk about Whitney was, I think you know, a lot of practice owners are realizing that they might need to do some different things with their marketing. So, I was just curious if you were looking at doing anything differently or maybe doing more of something that you haven’t before.
[WHITNEY]: Yeah, I think one of the greatest things for you to do, and this is a short-term and long-term goal, is the SEO on your website and really spending time working on your website because now we’ve got more and more people going online and so they’re going to be looking for therapists. And so being able to do some SEO surrounding not only just normal things on your website like anxiety, depression, and your specialties, but doing some SEO surrounding the coronavirus anxiety during that time, or writing some very specific blogs on how does a couple survive the pandemic when they’re stuck together or how do you balance working and being with your kids or how do you help your kids through school when they have ADHD? I think doing some of those things surrounding your website can really help get your practice moving forward.
[ALISON]: Yeah, that’s a great idea. Something else that was suggested to me was to put like a popup box on my website that said like, “Hey, right now we’re doing telehealth. We’re still open, we’re still accepting new clients.” But just letting people know like telehealth sessions were their only option because otherwise, you know, there might be confusion about well are they still open, are they not, or, you know what I mean?
[WHITNEY]: Sure. I think that’s great. What are some other things that you’ve been doing marketing-wise to help?
[ALISON]: So, we decided to start like a free support group on Zoom and we put together like a flyer and we’ve been posting up on social media. And what’s nice about that is because it is like a free group, it’s really meant to be, you know, a way to give back to the community. But the other kind of nice part about it is that I can post it up in different Facebook groups where I normally wouldn’t be able to just post like a blatant advertisement. But because it is a free resource to the community, you can post, you know how you don’t want to like violate ethics, I mean the etiquette of the Facebook groups. So yeah, so that’s been good. So, I mean I can see like how many times it’s been shared and it was shared a whole bunch of times. So that was cool. And then the other thing that I did was really just like beef up. Like we always had like an online therapy service page, but I really just went in like beefed it up.
And one really interesting thing that I learned from Kevin Hyde who is helping me do my Google ads. So, he owns a little company called Ardent Healers and he’s actually my former consulting client. So, shout out to Kevin. He started his own side hustle, putting together Google ads for therapists. And so, when I was ready to do my Google ads, I called Kevin and so when this was all changing with Covid-19 and telehealth, I called him and I’m like, “We’ve got to change the ads. Like we got to start pushing telehealth.” And he was like, “We could, but people aren’t searching for that. People are still searching for whatever the issue is they’re dealing with like depression, anxiety, all that kind of stuff.” He said, you know, there’s, just historically there’s been very few people searching for telehealth or online therapy. And so, we might not want to have that be front and center. You still want to have the, you know, anxiety or depression or whatever, be front and center.
And that was actually his suggestion to put the popup box on the website. So, it made it clear like, “Hey, your only option right now is telehealth,” because they may not have sort of seen that or noticed that from the Google ad. So that’s just something to keep in mind. Like I think, you know, we think like, “Oh, we really just need to like ramp up the SEO for online therapy.” Your telehealth is, that’s, you know, what people are going to be searching for now, but they’re probably not. I mean, it’ll be interesting to see, I think when you look at the Google analytics, you know, over the last couple of weeks to see how that all is like shaking out. But yeah, I think that makes sense. Like you’re not necessarily thinking about the way you want therapy services. You’re just thinking like, “Oh, I’m like super anxious. I want to see a therapist.”
[WHITNEY]: Yeah, definitely. I think that I like your idea of marketing in a creative way. Like you’re offering the support group and I think even if you ask people to pay or not pay in your own practices as you think of creative ideas, like yeah, think of creative ideas, like do some things that are outside the box because we’re living in a time that’s outside of the box. So, like for example, if you, maybe, I’ve always wanted to run a support group for moms with anxiety. Like now’s a really good time to throw that out there and kind of see bites, and you can do that through an online community platform. This is not a therapy practice thing, but my husband is a youth pastor and so he’s been trying to figure out, “Okay, well how do I keep doing my job and connecting kids when I can’t actually hang out with them?”
And so, he started doing Zoom Bible studies and he was kind of unsure how that would go. But boy, the kids love it. I mean we’ve had kids who don’t normally come to church at all show up for Zoom Bible study. Because people are wanting connection like in a real way. And so, if you can offer some kind of group, it’s free or free support group or a really low-cost group that people could join in, like people are just dying for some social interaction.
[ALISON]: Yeah, that’s a really good point. So, any other short-term goals that practice owners should be thinking about Whitney?
[WHITNEY]: I think the only other thing I’ve been thinking is social media. Like I think more people are on social media right now because like I just said, they’re looking for that connection. And so, if you are a practice owner who’s never really gotten to do social media very much, maybe you’ve just been too consumed or you’re not sure how to do it, like now’s a really good time to start looking at how do I post to Facebook Live. Like, I’ve noticed several people in some of the Facebook groups saying they just started doing their first Facebook Lives for their practice. So this is a good time to start like doing that because people are online and people do want to interact and so you’re probably going to get a little bit more interaction than you normally would and you’re getting practicing, you’re getting used to it and get your name out there more.
[ALISON]: Yeah, I definitely think that’s true. Like people are, you know, obviously kind of stuck at home and so, yeah, I’d be curious to see too with the data’s on like how big of a spike the social media usage was like when the quarantine happened. But yeah, we’ve been doing a lot more of that and a lot more posts focused on like how to cope with Covid-19 in just different aspects. And we’ve done some Facebook Lives too. So, yeah. Good ideas.
[WHITNEY]: Yeah. One of my therapists actually does kids. And so, I was trying to figure out, okay, well how is she going to do this in a tele-health format and how can we meet the needs, not only the kids but really the families, right? Because they’re the ones caring for their children. So, a couple of things we did for her is we started offering 30-minute sessions because a kid isn’t, an eight-year-old with ADHD is not going to sit in front of their computer for an hour. It’s just not happening. So being able to offer the, twice, it also provides more structure during the week when you know, things can be structured at home. And so that’s been going really well. And then she also had a school reach out to her recently because they wanted to do a Zoom call for parents. This was a private school in town, but they wanted to do it for the parents to be able to learn how do I work and care for my child and do the homeschooling all at the same time? And so, she’s actually in the process of putting a PowerPoint together and going to do a Zoom on that. And so that’s a really cool concept that, you know, you could start marketing yourself to maybe churches or to schools or to doctor’s offices on something you can offer if it’s teaching parents or you know, tips on anxiety or whatever that might be.
[ALISON]: Yeah, that’s a great idea.
[WHITNEY]: So, I’ll let you know how that goes, but I’m excited for her getting to do that.
[ALISON]: Yeah, I’ve heard some other practice owners, especially if they’re self-payer kind of offering like half-hour, more like checking sessions or kind of boost your sessions, whatever you want to call it for people who might be a little concerned about finances just so they can still sort of maintain that connection with the therapist, but they’re maybe not spending as much as they were when they were coming for the full hour.
[WHITNEY]: Yeah, and it’s a really good time in your practice if you have clients that discharged even recently or just people who come to mine. Like encourage therapists to reach out to those clients just to check-in and see how they’re doing because some of them might need therapy again. You know, because this is so triggering for people. So, take that time to reach out to some old clients.
[ALISON]: Yeah, that’s another really good idea too.
[WHITNEY]: Well I think we’ve given everybody a lot of short-term goals. Everybody’s got a lot of work to do.
[ALISON]: Yes, I think so too. You better get on it.
[WHITNEY]: That’s right. That’s right. So, in our next episode we’re going to keep talking about how to grow your group practice, but specifically, talk about some long-term goals that are really going to get you going in the right direction.
[ALISON]: Awesome. All right. See you tomorrow.

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