What is an app?
App simply stands for the term application. Each app is a piece of software that can be downloaded to your smart phone to be used for a specific purpose. For example, if you are looking for events in your area, there's an app for that. If you want to make hotel reservations, there is an app for that. The options are quite endless.
What are the benefits of a business having an app?
For the person with the smartphone, apps make life easier. Did you know mobile users spend 88% of their time on apps? They aren't on a browser searching as they would on their home computer. They are spending time using specific applications for their lives. For you as the private practice owner, apps can be a great way to build a relationship with a potential client or referral source. It makes getting to know you in a virtual world - easier!
Apps simplify information and make it easy (I keep using this word) for users to find what they need. Think about when you visit a website. There are a ton of options. You have the navigation bar, clickable images, and other links to pull your attention in different directions. Apps can take all that information and distill it into the most essential information for the end user. Instead of logging into a browser for directions, I can go to my google maps app and just put in the address I need and click to get directions and as a bonus, I can just tell my smartphone to open the app vs on my laptop, I have to type and search.
So how does that translate to private practice?
When you have an app, it makes it easy for people to access your information and a way of contacting you. Think about an initial consult call and you tell them to download your app for directions and for a way to contact you. It gives visibility to your practice and what you are creating for a larger community. It can be a communication hub for you and the person who has downloaded your app - from blogs to emails - you increase your visibility and accessibility.
Why are you talking about apps?
Many months ago, we met a guy named Philip Lee from Counsel Chat who created apps for therapists. We were blown away by what he was doing. So we had him create our app. Never in a million years did we think that we could get that off of our to do list. Yes, we wanted an app but didn't think it was possible. Why?
Well here is what you need to know.
Building an app is kinda complex. You need to know how to code and design and do fancy stuff that takes time (time that I don't have) to learn. My husband built his own app once. A fun little project turned into many late nights and 6 months later he had it up. And then when it launched, it had all sorts of issues. Let's just say - there is a learning curve to this level of tech.
Many apps are custom built which takes time and money which means you don't know what the end result will be. I have had many friends get an app built and the end product wasn't what they were expecting at all. It cost them a ton of money (we are talking anywhere from 5-10k) and their outcome was less than stellar.
If you go to an app developer to create an app for your private practice, they need to get to know your business, your goals and then have a ton more communication about design and functionality.
Plus apps require maintenance and updating software - uh, no thank you.
Therapists have options.
Let's look at CounselChat. They get therapists and they really understand the private practice model and what our private practices need in an app. Because they understand our needs so well, they came up with a format/template that works for most therapists.
This makes app development for your practice something easy you can do now, without the high expense and you get the benefit of knowing exactly what you are getting before you purchase.
Plus, if they improve the app for one therapist, they are going to share those improvements with you as well.
Here's our personal experience.
Our app features our blogs, trainings that you can watch from your phone, a way to contact us and information about us. It's simply the main information that anyone needs when they visit our website.
I'm going to be totally honest. I have not maximized the potential of our app, yet people still love it, read our blogs on the app, and send us emails. The app can notify them when we have updates so they get all of our current information and we stay on top of their mind. I like it and I still don't use it well simply because we launched in the middle of going to the ACA conference and right before our bootcamp. Let's just say, things got a little too busy.