These days, more people than ever are seeking mental health treatment, but it can still be frustratingly difficult to find a therapist. Therapists must have an online presence to help the right patients find them.
In late 2020, Clinical Psychologist Debra Wolkenfeld was preparing to open a new private practice, DW Behavioral Health, in Guilford, CT. She needed help developing her brand and getting online, from a new website to a patient portal to a professional, HIPAA-compliant email account.
In our first meeting, Debra and I spoke at length to identify her goals, ideal patients (teen girls and young women), and unique qualities as a therapist. She wanted the new website to attract new patients and referrals from her local area as well as provide an easy place for current patients to access telehealth sessions and submit paperwork.
As a solo business owner without any administrative staff, it was also important to Debra that anything we set up be as simple as possible to manage in the future.
Developing the Brand
Integrating the principles of color theory and Debra’s preferences, I put together several color scheme options. She decided on a warm, calming, slightly “feminine” color palette.
I also designed a logo along with several variations for different uses and orientations.
We discussed options for the tone of the language of the site and decided we would aim to strike a balance between sounding warm and welcoming while conveying professionalism and expertise in her field.
Building the Site
Finally, it was time to build the site. To simplify and minimize future maintenance, billing, and security for the client, we chose to use Squarespace.
I designed the site, wrote all the copy (with plenty of client feedback along the way), and sourced all images. I listened closely to the way Debra described her practice, values, and approach to therapy so that my writing would sound true to her authentic voice.
As a finishing touch, I set up analytics so that we could monitor the new site’s traffic and performance.
Helping the Right Patients Find Her
The next step was to make sure that potential patients (or their parents) could find DW Behavioral Health online. Following best practices for search engine optimization (SEO), I performed keyword research and incorporated those keywords into the website copy, along with other on-page SEO work. I also performed technical SEO tasks such as writing descriptive metadata and optimizing speed.
Taking these important steps will help the website rank well in search results when local parents or young women search for a therapist in their area.
Ensuring Email & Phone Privacy
As a therapist, Debra is bound by HIPAA privacy regulations in all of her communications regarding patients. I spent a lot of time researching HIPAA-compliant email and phone options that would fit within the budget of a fledgling private practice.
In the end, we chose to go with Google Workspace and Phone accounts, which can be set up to be HIPAA-compliant. I also set up a separate, end-to-end encrypted email account for her to use when sending especially sensitive documents.
While I’m no HIPAA expert, I provided the client with a list of resources to keep on hand to help her maintain HIPAA compliance in the future.
Modernizing Patient Access
Debra was still having clients complete paperwork the old-fashioned way and entering everything into her records system herself, taking up precious time she could be spending with her patients. She was paying for a service that included a patient portal for this purpose but simply hadn’t had the time to set it up.
I set up the patient-facing back end of her Therapy Notes account so that patients could submit paperwork online. The final touch was customizing her patient portal login page to match the new color scheme.
When the project was complete, I pulled together a branding guide (containing details about her new logos, fonts, and color scheme), all new account login information, HIPAA resources, a list of suggested blog posts for the future based on my keyword research, and a simple “next steps” checklist for Debra to follow (i.e., downloading new fonts, adding her new logo to practice forms, updating her business cards, etc.).
Debra and I met one more time to go over her new services and make sure she felt comfortable using her new email and phone accounts. And my work here was done!
Debra tells me that she has received many new patient inquiries through her site’s contact form, along with good feedback from patients and colleagues alike. The site’s traffic continues to increase and its search engine ranking has been slowly but surely improving.
I continue to maintain and update the site and other online services for the client as needed.