[Editors Note: this post is from early 2017, a lot has been added to iCouch since. However, we’re keeping this post here for posterity.]
Our team has been hard at work! iCouch has been in public beta since January and we are fast approaching the official public launch of our practitioner communications, scheduling, payments and website platform. During the beta period we learned a lot about how mental health professionals and their clients use our system. We discovered some things that didn’t work as well as we would have liked and we also learned a ton about what features private practice behavioral health professionals really want.
Summary of beta findings:
- Client-to-practitioner communication is a real problem. Other than a phone call, what’s the best way for a therapist to communicate with their clients? We’ve discovered from countless interviews with practitioners that they’re using consumer tools such as What’s App and even standard SMS. There are loads of security and compliance issues with that.
- Easily getting paid is a real problem. The “I’ll pay you next appointment,” excuse often results in practitioners becoming amateur collection agencies.
- Most mental health practitioners are not technology or web experts. While many are skilled at using their computer, doing things such as setting up a website can be a big frustration.
- Cash practices are a massively growing trend. Under-reimbursement from insurance companies is a significant problem. Insurance-based practitioners seem to work harder for less money than their cash/credit only counterparts.
- Many behavioral health professionals aren’t interested in full-time online-only practices, but they’d like the ability to easily add online therapy options to their practice.
- Scheduling “phone tag” still, despite being 2017, is a big thing. Therapists spend an inordinate amount of time on administrative tasks such as scheduling and confirming appointments.
- Millennial practitioners aren’t the only ones heavily embracing technology. In fact, a large number of iCouch beta users are highly experienced professionals. Older practitioners have been among our most vocal evangelists.
- No surprise here, but the vast majority of our users are women, but interestingly, a majority of potential clients seeking therapy with iCouch practitioners seem to be men.
What’s coming for the iCouch public release
Given what we’ve learned during our beta period, we’ve focused iCouch to just four key components:
- Scheduling & Booking (for both online and in-person appointments)
- Secure Communications (this includes online video as well as secure text chat.)
- Therapist Websites (iCouch subscribers can create a simple, but beautiful website for their practice.) These websites will also show up in iCouch find-a-therapist searches conducted by visitors.
- Payments (Practitioners can easily accept credit cards for both in-person and online clients, send invoices and record cash and check payments.
We’re eliminating those features that we found weren’t adding value. We’re tightly focused on the four core components listed above because based on our findings, these are the key “pain points” suffered by a large number of private practice therapists. By stripping out the clutter, we can provide a premium, highly stable and easy to use experience for both practitioners as well as their clients.
iCouch now has support for patient notes, electronics signatures and more!