It’s important to make the exchange of documents and messages with your clients as easy as possible, so it makes sense if you’re asking something like, “how can I add a client portal to my therapist website?”
Maybe there could be a login page where your client could set up a user account and access all the forms, sign them, and send them back to you. Or it could also be where you share superbills or other documents back with them.
Or it could include secure messaging features for communicating sensitive information back and forth.
It’s Not Recommended Add Client Portals *Directly Within* Therapist Websites
Although it makes sense to want a client portal directly within your website, it’s not recommended. Instead, there are options to link or integrate a client portal instead. Let’s discuss why:
Because Websites Are For Marketing, Not Practice Management
It may be helpful to think of your website as a marketing tool and not a practice management tool.
It’s almost like there’s a line that separates the two.
On the outside, you have your marketing tool, your website helping you communicate who you are, how you help, and encouraging website visitors to reach out.
However, once someone reaches out, they cross over that line, going from outside to inside. From being just a random person in the world to being your client.
When a website visitor goes from being a visitor to being a client, their information needs to be secured meaning that a new level of digital security and HIPAA best practices ought to be followed.
Keeping Client Information Secure
This article isn’t going to go into depth as to all of the digital security best practices you ought to be implementing (we recommend our friends at Person Centered Tech for that), but in the case of a website visitor going from being a visitor to being a client, once that happens, their information needs to be secured at a higher level.
A typical therapist website doesn’t have even the most basic features needed to keep client information secure. For example,
- Website hosts or platforms will not be able to offer you a Business Associates Agreement, or a BAA. (Which is the agreement therapists must have in order to allow a third party to transmit and store protected health information of your clients).
- Websites themselves can easily get hacked
- Websites may not always transmit information through secure channels
Although you could, theoretically, create something secure given the right hardware, software, and practices – that would cost thousands of dollars to set up and more thousands to audit and maintain ongoing. It would fall way outside of the reasonable budget of a private solo or group practice.
So, If You Need A Client Portal, Try Using A Therapist EHR Software
At their core, an electronic health record, or EHR, software helps a therapist digitally store their client’s notes and medical records.
But beyond things like clinical notes, diagnosis, psychiatric medications, or other details about the mental health treatment of clients, many EHR software services have additional features to help with practice management.
And that can include a client portal including features like completing forms, paying for sessions, secure messaging, and scheduling appointments.
For The First Steps A Visitor Will Take, You May Not Even Need An EHR On Your Website
Most therapists offer a free consultation call or a first session as the first steps a website visitor will take from their website towards their service.
If that’s also the case for you, you should note that an EHR isn’t required to enable your website visitors to set up that free call or first session.
In either case, you can invite visitors to call, chat, or email you over secure channels and schedule them in.
Where an EHR-based client portal really starts to shine is when someone does get to the point where they are becoming a client. At that point, they’ll be needing to fill out paperwork, share sensitive info with you, or more.
EHR client portals can also be very helpful for the ongoing management of clients too meaning you can provide your existing clients the ability to manage their appointments, access therapy rooms, communicate with you, or more.
So Is It Beneficial To Include A Link To Your Client Portal On Your Therapist Website?
It’s beneficial to include access to your client portal via your website when:
- The client portal has scheduler that can be set up for website visitors to securely schedule a free consultation call or first session – helping website visitors become clients
- The client portal is something you want to provide convenient access to for your existing clients – helping existing clients with their ongoing care
These are two of the major reasons a therapist would want to add a portal to their website. If either of these reasons do apply to you, here’s how to link or integrate your client portal on your therapist website.
If You Want To Allow Visitors To Schedule…
First, you’ll have to be using an EHR with the ability for visitors to securely schedule a free consultation call or a first appointment. Not all of them do.
But if it is a feature with your EHR, you will discover they provide either a client portal link or code that can be embedded into your website.
For example, at a certain subscription level Simple Practice has an appointment request widget that will allow you to grab code that can be placed on your website. Once saved out, the code becomes a button and you can click it and it pops up a secure window through which visitors can schedule. Because the popup box is provided from Simple Practice, it appears on your website but is fully secured by Simple Practice making it safe for your visitors.
Once you’ve identified what feature your EHR provides, it’s just a matter of placing the link or code on your website.
Place the link or button in the header, footer, and on the contact page so that it’s easy for visitors to click through and get started with you by scheduling themselves in.
Note that there are also non-EHR options for schedulers. So if scheduling is your primary need, the addition of stand alone scheduling software may be what you’re looking for.
If You Want To Make It Easier For Your Existing Clients To Find The Client Portal Link…
No matter what features your EHR might have for a client portal, when it comes to making it easier for existing clients to find the link, it makes the most sense to link to the client portal login page in a footer menu of your website.
Menus in the footer, often called utility menus, are small and at the very bottom of a website. It’s a perfect place for a client portal link so that it doesn’t take up space among the sales and marketing pages in your website’s primary navigation.
Just let your existing clients know, “the client portal link is in my website footer, so if you ever forget how to access the portal, find it in the footer” and it can increase the ease at which your existing clients find their way.
Keep Things Both Simple and Secure
It’s possible to keep things both simple and secure for everyone. By understanding that a website is primarily a marketing tool, you can then move towards exploring what types of software can help you with the practice management side of your business.
Luckily, there are ways to connect the two sides together if needed. For website visitors who you would like to schedule in an online scheduler, your EHR may provide scheduling options that can be linked to or embedded with code.
Or to take care of existing clients, so they always know where to find the link to the client portal, you can link to the client portal login page from your website too.
If you are trying to achieve as much ease as possible, what does that look like? What does that feel like? How can you create an experience that cares for your clients and for your needs too?
Keeping things simple and secure – totally possible. Hope this post has helped.