I offer fully virtual mind body medicine & psychotherapy services in Mexico, and coaching for people elsewhere. When the pandemic started I closed my physical office, and for the time being I work only remotely from home (commutes in Mexico City are awful, so even patients I have here prefer meeting online).
In terms of insurance, I can’t offer any insights or tips – in Mexico, anything deemed to be complementary & alternative medicine / mental health is excluded from health insurance, and my non-clinical services are not covered by insurance.
For website creation, I’ve had a really good experience with Squarespace. They have great templates, the platform is really user friendly and the cost is very affordable – I use the Business option at $23 per month and built my own site (you can take a look here: https://liliagraue.com/). My navigation menu is less friendly than I would like because I have a bilingual site using a single domain, but it saves me a ton of money, and it works for now. And if your website is English only this is not an issue. You can also add an email address with your domain through Google Suite ($72/year). I use Acuity as an online scheduler (it’s actually been bought by Squarespace so the integration is pretty seamless) – it allows for integration with Stripe and Zoom, so people pay directly through my scheduler and Acuity generates the Zoom link and emails it in the confirmation email (which saves a lot of time). Acuity starts at $16 per month.
The only downside of Squarespace is that it’s less efficient with SEO than WordPress, but for another site I have hosted through WordPress I did have to hire a web designer to get it going and deal with all of the APIs – I can now edit it as I like but couldn’t have done it without a web designer.
Some friends of mine have used Wix and like it as well.
For billing, my Mexican patients pay by wire transfer, and overseas clients pay me through Stripe. It’s fantastic service, decent fees, and people don’t need an account like they do with PayPal. It allows for saving credit card info, recurrent or one time payments, creation of payment links, and all the functionality you need. At least in Mexico, Stripe is linked to my tax information, and getting my commissions invoice is super easy (for monthly deductions).
To sum up, in terms of tech/platform, I use Zoom, Squarespace, Acuity, and Stripe. I’ve used MailChimp in the past and might do so again.
For networking and referrals, I lean on building relationships with colleagues so we can do cross-referrals. I meet colleagues through trainings like these, as well as consultation groups. Other great sources of referrals are directory listings (eg PRT and upcoming OvidDx), as well as podcasts. I have a mostly hate-hate relationship with social media, so that’s not a resource I use. I used to have a mailing list (I used MailChimp and was super happy with it) and a blog, though I’m not currently doing that either because of time constraints. My experience has been that for 1:1 work, networking with colleagues, word of mouth from patients/clients and podcasts bring in a consistent flow of patients/clients, but in order to fill groups (if you do group work) you absolutely need a strong mailing list, a good number of followers with good engagement on social media, and/or a source of numerous referrals (like a clinic treating a specific condition or type of pain). My group offerings have filled up mostly through my mailing list.
My main tip for making it simple is to focus on your strengths and what you enjoy. Eg: I love and am skilled at building relationships with colleagues, doing speaking gigs and writing blogs/emails – all great sources of referrals. I hate social media, working at it is soul crushing, and for many years I invested a lot of time, energy, and even money on paid ads, without much success. In terms of marketing, it’s more efficient to invest on creating content for your blog, mailing list and YouTube channel, and podcast interviews (they’re all searchable by SEO and have a long internet life) than on social media (unless you’re super social media savvy or can hire a wonderful community manager) where posts have a really short life. Facebook groups are favored by some as a platform for self-promotion and marketing, but in my experience they’re a lot of hassle (especially the larger they become) and require serious admin labor, particularly if you want to make sure community guidelines are upheld and people aren’t harmed.
For cost-effectiveness, I never had a lot of money to invest, so I built/grew slow and steady, organically, and I’ve always been a one-woman show, so I don’t have a VA or community manager. If you do have a ton of money to invest to begin with, hiring someone to create an amazing website with lots of valuable content and great SEO is a good strategy, and a VA could be a good idea too.
I hope this is useful and I wish you success with your practice.