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Essential marketing tips for private behavioral health practices

The primary mission of the behavioral health provider is to deliver high-quality care to patients and clients, but at the end of the day, the continuity of business is what enables practices to keep their doors open. Like any other business, keeping a steady flow of patronage requires good private practice marketing strategies.

But health care is evolving, and technology enables new possibilities while disrupting old paradigms—even in the way behavioral health practices market themselves to prospective patients and clients. The industry’s inclination toward consumerism is changing the way people discover providers in their local area. Practices must account for their digital presence; in other words, they should think about any instance in which they might be discovered in an online search. Ensuring practices connect with the right people is a matter of understanding these dynamics and applying some fundamental strategies. The following three examples are a good place to start.

Getting credentialed through private insurers

For many clients, the first logical step in seeking out care is to visit the website of their own insurance provider and browse the providers within the network of coverage. This is usually the first touch-point between patient and provider, so getting credentialed through private insurers and maintaining visibility to future patients and clients is very important.

Providers that are coming from a group practice where they were paneled members of an insurance company should never assume their contracts are still valid. New practices must do their due diligence to avoid having their claims rejected.

Optimizing public-facing profiles

In addition to maintaining a presence in private insurance listings, practices should create an effective public-facing profile. Take into account anything prospective clients might find if they Google the name of the practice. This could be the practice’s website, social media accounts, or additional web registries such as GoodTherapy.org or Psychology Today.

In many such cases, practices are afforded the opportunity to publish a brief summary of themselves. Create summaries that are clear, concise, and define any relevant expertise, have professional headshots made, and ensure contact information is easy to locate (be it a phone number, URL, or email address).

Managing online ratings and reviews

Google the name of the practice with the word “reviews” after it and observe the first page of search results. Chances are it will consist of many of the more popular review sites and social media platforms, and it is of these first-page items that practices should remain cognizant.

Most consumers rely heavily on existing product reviews to inform their purchase decisions, and the health care industry is becoming similar. Reviews exist across many online platforms, including third-party provider registries as well as applications like Yelp and Google Reviews. In many instances, practice owners are able to claim business listings in order to review and respond to client feedback.

Even the most disciplined practices will encounter the occasional negative review. If the review platform allows responses, practices should always do so in a constructive, non-combative manner. Addressing the reviewer’s grievances is a good opportunity to demonstrate the practice’s standards. Never get into a heated back-and-forth exchange over the web. If online reviews turn out to be inaccurate, illegitimate, or intentionally inflammatory, they can usually be disputed then removed by app moderators.

Technology continues to influence health care, from the ways that patients discover and evaluate providers in their local area to the ways that practices market themselves and facilitate intakes. Practices that can adapt to these shifting technological and social dynamics will ensure patients and clients have an accessible pathway to care, and that their needs will be adequately met by the right provider for the job.