January 17, 2023

Establish Your Psychiatry Private Practice Online: What to Put on Your Website

Written by

Dr. Carlene MacMillan, M.D.

Over 50% of patients start their search online to find a mental health clinician. In 2023, you need to build a digital foundation that establishes credibility, gets new patients, and communicates important practice information.

The good news is you don’t need to spread yourself thin—or even have a social media presence to attract right-fit patients.

Keep reading as we cover the core pillars of creating an online presence for your psychiatry private practice.

We'll cover:

  • Best practices for creating a website
  • Pros and cons of different online clinician directories
  • Business social media accounts
  • Announcing the launch of your practice online

Make a Website for Your Private Practice

Your website serves as your digital home: you own the real estate and you can direct traffic—aka people visiting listing/review sites and social media—back to your site to learn more. Patients evaluate if your practice is the right fit based on your services, your website’s design, how you describe yourself, and your philosophy.

But, that doesn’t mean you need to spend thousands of dollars on a website designer. You have a few options:

1) If you’re tech-savvy, you can build your own website using tools like Wix, Squarespace, Weebly, or WordPress.

2) Or, you can save time by hiring a digital marketing service. They'll help you build out your online presence without you needing to be tech-savvy. We recommend choosing one that has experience building mental health and medical websites.

When evaluating options for launching your website, make sure to ask if they include the following with their service:

  • A fully built modern website
  • Search engine optimization (SEO) so your website is easily findable by your target population on Google search
  • Monthly reporting on your website's performance
  • Assistance curating positive online patient reviews

What to Include on Your Psychiatry Practice Website

Whether you’re creating your website yourself or hiring someone, you’ll want to make sure you include these key components:

Clinical staff bios

For each clinician in your practice, include a photograph, medical training, professional history, and other details that help your patients get to know each clinician.

Practice areas

State the types of patients you work with, if you see patients virtually or in person, and the states in which patients must be present for virtual appointments. If you specialize in certain diagnoses or have other areas of focus, make sure you clearly state that. On the flip side, state up front if you don’t treat patients with certain diagnoses or medication needs.

Visit types and fees

If you take insurance, list which insurance policies you’re in-network with. If you work with private pay clients, it’s best practice to list the visit types you offer and your corresponding fees. Not everyone lists their fees, but many patients appreciate transparency around pricing.

Pre-screening forms for new patients

ou may not want first-time patients to self-schedule an appointment online. You may want to make sure the patient is a fit for their practice first. One way to screen patients is to sign a Business Associate Agreement (BAA) for a HIPPA-compliant Google workspace and then make an online screening form.

Here are the steps to create a pre-screening form:

  1. You can set up a free Google form on your website for patients to submit their contact information and demographic information (e.g., name, email, phone number, DOB, emergency contact). Set the form settings to “Get email notifications for new responses” so you never miss one.
  2. Then, you can add each patient’s information into a patient portal in your EHR, and send them your practice’s custom intake forms in your HIPPA-compliant EHR portal.
  3. After you receive and review a patient’s completed confidential forms, you can contact the patient to schedule their initial appointment or offer them a referral.
  4. This process is preferable to listing your full contact information on your website—unless you have a full-time admin available to take calls and answer questions. At this point, you can also ask for patient permission to place them on a waitlist if your practice is at capacity. Another advantage to this method is storing all information in your EHR, making it easy to find if a patient comes back later. To see the end result, check out maumpsychiatry.com—You can see her Google form toward the bottom of the home screen.

Maumpsychiatry.com puts her Google form toward the bottom of the home screen on her website.

Contact information

List your practice phone number, fax (if applicable), email, location (if applicable), and business hours. You may want to provide an estimate for how long it typically takes you to respond to voicemails and emails (e.g., 1-2 business days).

Directions, parking, and transit

If you have a physical office, it's nice to list:  

  • Directions
  • Parking information (location and payment)
  • Transit options
  • Accessible entrances and elevator
  • Other information to help patients navigate their first visit to see you

Patient portal link

If your EHR offers a patient portal, it’s nice to provide the link directly on your website for patients who may forget how to find it.

MaumPsychiatry.com puts their Patient Portal link in the top right corner of their website

Language

If you offer treatment in languages other than English, we recommend having the option to switch the website language as well.

List Your Practice on Online Directories

Many patients turn to physician directories when searching for a psychiatrist. Listing yourself in third-party directories not only allows patients to find you, but also lends credibility to your practice when you get patient referrals. But, these services come with a cost, so you’ll want to compare the pros and cons of listing your practice on directory third-party directories. Some common online directories include:

Psychology Today: The bread and butter of psychology and psychiatry directories. Some solo practitioners opt just to have an online profile here rather than a practice website.

  • Unlike many other directories listed in this article, Psychology Today doesn’t provide a way for patients to review their providers.
  • Be up front about whether or not you accept insurance to avoid non-viable prospective patients wasting their time and yours.

ZocDoc: ZocDoc is transitioning from a yearly subscription to a pay-per-patient model, and you’ll need to contact them to learn about prices in your area.

  • Cost: ZocDoc is free to patients, and allows patients to book an appointment with your practice directly through the ZocDoc scheduling tool.
  • ZocDoc enables patients reviews. Be sure to ask how fees are handled if a prospective patient no-shows or cancels at the last minute.

Alma: Alma membership costs quite a bit more than the other directories in this article: Currently $125 / month

  • Includes marketing, insurance support, digital tools, and and a clinician community platform in addition to its provider directory.
  • Like Psychology Today, Alma doesn’t show patient reviews. There are other similar services like Alma out there like Headway and Sondermind. All help with getting credentialed with insurance panels and are not a good fit if not planning on take insurance.

Google Business Profile

Yelp: While Yelp is famous for restaurant reviews, some patients use the platform to find and review psychiatry practices.

Some complain that Yelp overemphasizes sponsored businesses and charges businesses for paid badgs. Even so, Yelp allows patients to filter by several helpful categories including location.

For a full breakdown, check out our article with more guidance on best practices for listing your practice and deciding between online directories.

Create Business Social Media Accounts

In addition to the business directory profiles, you may want to think about social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

We strongly encourage you to avoid using your private social media account for professional purposes. Depending on your target patient demographic, you may want to create business social media accounts.

The American Psychiatric Association touts the benefits of professional social media accounts as a way to:

  • Establish an online presence and professional brand
  • Lend your voice to important mental health issues
  • Stay connected to your peers and professional community. But, the APA notes that search engines won't notice your social media account if it's innactive. So it may only be worth your time to create an account if you plan to regularly use it.

Announce the Launch of Your Practice

You finally have the foundation in place to start seeing patients! We recommend writing an announcement to current patients, colleagues, and your professional network to let them know that you’re available.

Consider creating an email announcement letting your network know about:

  • Your practice start date
  • Areas of focus
  • Services
  • Website link
  • Contact information
  • A statement that you’re actively seeking new patients and referrals. You can post on local psychiatry and therapy listservs and to a list of colleagues whose email addresses you’ve collected over the years. If you have a stack of business cards from a networking event, now is the time to go through them and start to build a mailing list!

You can post on your personal social media letting your network know that you have new professional social media accounts. Lastly, don’t forget to post on your new business social media accounts!

Conclusion:

Now you have everything you need to curate your digital foundation. Your website is your home. Listing sites and social media are the signposts for patients to find you.

One more thing: Although we live in a digital-first world, there’s still merit in physical marketing (e.g., mailers, flyers, etc.). Creating referral pathways—especially if you serve a particular area—can help you grow your practice on autopilot.

We’ll cover best practices for with examples in a future article. In the meantime, opt into the Osmind newsletter to stay informed. We send digests of strategies to help you start and grow your practice.

If you’ve been following along in our “starting your practice series,” congratulations on setting up your new private practice! In parts one, two, three, and four, we covered four questions to ask yourself before starting, budget planning, legal foundations, and finding and furnishing your office. In our final article of the series, we’ll cover how to cultivate a community for continuous learning.

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