This article series spotlights key business trends identified by the expert members of Forbes Councils. Find out if you qualify for Forbes Coaches Council here.
According to the Department of Health and Human Services’ new report analyzing claims data during the Covid-19 pandemic, telehealth services have experienced a “meteoric rise.” In February, just before Covid-19 hit the U.S., less than .1% of Medicare primary care visits were via telemedicine; by early April, that number jumped to 43.5%.
By lifting telehealth restrictions to expand healthcare access and reduce exposure, the U.S. has also opened the floodgates to new healthcare opportunities after the pandemic ends. According to HHS, millions of Medicare beneficiaries will have an ongoing desire for telehealth services post-pandemic. Telehealth is here to stay in specialties beyond primary care, including mental health and wellness arts like yoga and meditation.
Forbes Coaches Council member Wendy Pitts Reeves is a licensed psychotherapist, as well as a business coach and mentor for purpose-driven entrepreneurs. She specializes in helping other healthcare practitioners and healers establish and maintain thriving private practices. During the pandemic, she’s also developed her expertise in successfully shifting healthcare practices into the digital realm.
As the founder of Cove Mountain Counseling, one of the most respected counseling centers in Tennessee for the past 27 years, Pitts Reeves took her own practice online virtually overnight when she developed a cough and a slight fever back in early March. “I realized that something was wrong and I had a decision to make. The threat of Covid-19 was still new, and there was no testing I could access. I had no way of knowing if I could be carrying the virus,” she said.
To protect the health and safety of herself and her clients, Pitts Reeves transitioned her entire practice online within hours, not realizing that her entire industry was about to change. “I didn’t know it then, but that would be my last day in the office this year,” she said.
Pitts Reeves spends most of her workday coaching women entrepreneurs – chiefly health practitioners, such as psychotherapists, energy healers, yoga teachers and nonprofit leaders. “At the intersection of those two worlds, I’ve watched as therapists (and therapist types) have had to learn (practically overnight) how to take their businesses online and serve their clients virtually – all while managing heightened anxiety in both their clients and in themselves,” she said.
Although online practice isn’t entirely new in the world of allied health services and private practice, Covid-19 has necessitated and accelerated the growth of online practice so rapidly that Pitts Reeves is seeing a learning curve. “For most part, this is a giant leap into technology with all the complications that come with it,” she said. “I’ve suddenly found myself teaching providers completely new skills, such as how to manage their tech set up (lighting, sound, camera angle, appearance, environment) and how to protect their clients’ privacy and manage their own liability.”
Today’s practitioners are not only learning how to navigate digital business systems and processes including paperwork and payment options; they’re also learning how to connect with their patients and clients through a screen. “Sometimes, practitioners have had to learn how to overcome their clients’ reluctance to even try this new, virtual format – which is a skill in itself,” said Pitts Reeves.
In her experience, however, transitioning private practice online is well worth the investment. By coaching clients to think outside of the box in the new virtual space, Pitts Reeves has helped practitioners expand their offerings to include services and resources such as online courses, video training, video group therapy, virtual workshops and more. “It’s a great time to experiment with serving clients in a new way,” she said. In some cases, her clients have already been able to grow their income by going online.
While Pitts Reeves will probably never know whether she had Covid-19 back in March, she’s confident that her decision to take her practice online and help other practitioners do the same was well-timed. “Although there was some resistance at first, eventually, we all realized that there was much to appreciate about this new way of showing up. Meeting was easy, no matter the weather, the traffic or the commute. My business continued uninterrupted, and my clients continued to get better. That’s a win-win for everyone.”
For more information, check out Wendy Pitts Reeves’s executive profile here. To learn more about Forbes Coaches Council and see if you qualify for membership, click here.