What Clients Expect from Their Mental Health Providers. 2022 Update with Tips You Can Use TODAY!

The pandemic, telehealth and increased prevalence of digital technology have transformed the mental health landscape in ways no one could have imagined just five years ago. That means that mental health providers need to adapt quickly to keep apace. Here are five key demands that clients are making – with simple solutions you can implement right away.

1. Easy access to information

Clients are no longer passive consumers of healthcare. Today they expect to have more control over their care – including selecting their mental health (MH) provider, reading other clients’ opinions, checking credentials, finding a nearby location and more. They go online to do research. In fact, 75% of patients say that they consult online reviews before making an appointment with a healthcare provider.

“We’re looking at a different generation of clients now, who are tech savvy. They recognize the importance of mental health in their day-to-day lives, and they’re accustomed to getting information from the internet. They expect a higher level of engagement with their provider using technology,” says Liz Fobare, MSW, Vice President of Clinical product at Kareo.

We all know you need an up-to-date website to stay competitive. But who has time to be an IT expert when you’re managing a busy practice? Try a solution like Kareo’s online Provider Profiles. It includes all the bells and whistles that new patients expect, like your education, certification, specialty, testimonials, contact information, online appointments and map. Because you customize the site, it helps to individualize your practice and make it stand out from the pack.

While clients are on your website, they can use the system to set up an appointment without calling your office, giving them an added level of control and convenience.

2. Speedy two-way communications

Are you still asking clients to leave voicemails, resulting in phone tag frustrations? People today expect to send an email or text – whether it’s to their therapist or their auto body shop – and get a response the same day. It’s part of the demand for personalized attention and quick answers.

“It’s very much of an interview process now when a patient is looking for a provider,” says Naomi Myrick, APRN, MSN, PMHNP-BC. “They’ve got to be able to find you on Google easily, and then engage with you back and forth to determine whether the relationship will be a good fit. In psychiatry, people are already a little hesitant anyway. If they contact you on Monday and they haven’t heard back from you by Wednesday, they’ll start looking for a different provider. They need answers fast. It’s also super important for my office staff to have intake information before the first visit to streamline our workflow. It can all be done through digital communications.”

Setting up a modern communications system can all be done through Kareo Engage, which links seamlessly with your electronic health record (EHR) software. One benefit is that you can view the patient’s records while typing a text. A copy of the correspondence is stored securely in their file. Because the solution is cloud-based, you can reply to client queries from your smartphone or tablet wherever you might be – letting you deliver superior service that demonstrates your professionalism.

3. Access to telehealth

Before the pandemic, virtual visits were a rarity. Now many MH practices offer only telehealth services. Telehealth and hybrid offerings are here to stay, because of the improved convenience and cost-effectiveness for both provider and client.

But not all telehealth solutions are created equal. You’ll want one that integrates with your practice management and appointment scheduling systems. It should be HIPAA-compliant and secure. It must also integrate with your billing system, so that telehealth sessions don’t fall through the cracks – a common problem during the early days of the pandemic. Kareo Telehealth is an industry leader with special features like a virtual waiting room and multiple-user conferences. It can be activated with a single click from within the Kareo EHR.

4. Transparent pricing and billing

Patients across the spectrum are having to pay a larger share of their healthcare bills. Understandably, this makes them more concerned about costs and billing details. Rather than paying cash at the time of service, they want MH providers to bill insurance companies, produce clear, detailed invoices, and accept digital payments. “People don’t like touching things anymore, like money or a card,” says Myrick. “They like to pay online. They just want a link or an email. They don’t want a stack of papers.”

Check out Kareo Billing to integrate with Kareo Clinical EHR. It automates the entire billing process for you. Use it to do coding, submit insurance claims, generate patient statements, post payments and create reports. Set up autobilling, and clients will receive an invoice via email or text as soon as insurance pays. The majority of patients click on a link to pay by credit card the same day that they receive notification, eliminating the hassle of sending a check in the mail.

5. Getting all the details right

As clients get pickier, they demand greater convenience at every touchpoint with you and your practice. “A bad digital experience can ruin the entire provider experience,” warns Fobare. She suggests using technology to modernize each step of a client’s journey.

For example, you can use Kareo Engage to send automated appointment reminders by text, decreasing no-shows and helping clients keep on schedule. You can send our client surveys, generating reviews to post online, to share the good news about your practice. Just having a tech-friendly website assures prospective clients that you are part of the digital world, and value time-saving conveniences.

View these five client demands together, and you see one overarching trend. The efficiencies of digital technology have streamlined every area of our lives, and today’s clients expect them in mental health services. The good news is that digital solutions are affordable and easy to use. They often pay for themselves quickly, if not immediately, as is the case of autobilling. Best of all, they let both you and clients stay focused on what really matters – practice growth and stability for you and your staff, and quality care and the best possible outcomes for your clients.

To learn more about evolving client expectations impacting the mental health industry, click here to watch our on-demand webinar titled, "Modernized Client and Mental Health Practice: Accessibility and Mental Health Awareness For Your Patients."

About the Author

Alesa Lightbourne is a prize-winning author, professor and former dean of an international business school. As a freelance writer, her clients have included Fortune...

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