Hushmail isn’t just good for you, the practitioner. It’s also good for your clients. Here’s how Hushmail can help alleviate a few common aversions to...
Dr. Walker’s work as a trauma center therapist was exhausting. Then, Hushmail helped her go virtual.
Dr. Walker loved her job as a trauma center therapist but didn't like her work environment. The pandemic allowed her to go virtual with her solo practice. Here's how she did it with Hushmail's help.
Dr. Karyetta Walker, LCMHC, has worked as a trauma therapist for over two decades, helping people recover from some of the worst experiences imaginable. For Dr. Walker, this is the work she’s called to do, but it isn’t without its challenges.
“I specialize in the treatment of complex trauma. When people come to see me, it’s because somewhere down the line, they've gotten stuck in their healing from whatever traumatic event or events have happened to them. It could be sexual abuse, physical abuse, neglect… Unfortunately, there are a lot of ‘people who choose to do bad things to good people.’ There's plenty of people who need my specialized therapy services.”
Helping people overcome life’s most difficult experiences is challenging in itself. The work environment can present difficulties as well. After years of dedicating herself to helping others, Dr. Walker found herself still loving the work but becoming frustrated with how her practice was set up.
Working at an agency, even if you’re a solo practitioner, can be frustrating
Since 2009, Dr. Walker had worked at an agency in Burlington, North Carolina. In 2017 she switched to private practice but maintained her office in the same building.
Working in an agency means you aren’t just working with your clients. You’re also juggling demands from the “rest” of the agency. Dr. Walker found herself having to constantly manage drama and crises that weren’t coming from her clients. It was exhausting.
“There were always a lot of consults on the side. A crisis happening a few rooms over. You step outside your office for a minute, and somebody catches you in the hallway needing something. Some days, there was no end to it.”
She also had a considerable commute to the office. She didn’t see this as a downside, though. It gave her the time to decompress after a long day. No one could ever call the life of a trauma therapist easy.
That was before the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020, ushering in some big changes for Dr. Walker.
“Before the pandemic, in North Carolina, unless you were a psychiatrist, mental health providers couldn’t bill Medicaid or many of the insurance companies for virtual telehealth sessions. During the pandemic, however, they opened that up. As an essential worker, I was still seeing people face to face, but there was this new opportunity to go virtual. So at the end of 2020, I moved my practice into a 100 percent virtual setting and separated everything from the agency.”
The challenges of going 100% virtual with her clinical practice
Switching to a virtual practice is not without its challenges. Dr. Walker wanted to make sure her practice was transitioning to something better.
"I didn't like how my practice was set up nor the agency. I wanted to offer a high quality of clinical services through a virtual setting. But I didn't want my therapeutic services to be watered down because I decided to transition to a virtual office.
The move led to a lot of questions about how to duplicate virtually what she had mastered within the face to face experience. One question was about how to securely and professionally communicate online, starting with finding a professional-sounding email that was HIPAA compliant.
To say Dr. Walker was busy is an understatement. Transitioning her business to a virtual practice while caring for people who are being pushed to their limits every day could overwhelm anyone. But Dr. Walker kept her focus and took on the challenges one at a time.
“I moved my business name to New Season Clinical Services, PLLC, got my tax ID and all the business pieces set up, and then I started looking for a secure website and an email service. I'm not one to impulsively say, hey, this is the one I'm going with. I did as much research as possible.”
There was a lot to consider. Due to the complexities and sensitivity of trauma work, Dr. Walker needed to trust every facet of a virtual setting including email.
“I did a lot of compare and contrast. As I was doing that, Hushmail's name kept coming up, and that’s who I ended up going with. Now, with Hushmail, I know my email’s protected, and I have an email address that's more business savvy. Having my practice name in my email address has more of a business presence than firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Finding out Hushmail provides email and online forms
Dr. Walker chose Hushmail for its stellar reputation as a secure email service for small healthcare practices. But she also made use of Hushmail’s online forms, a lesser-known service they offer. She took advantage of her plan’s form builder credit to transfer all of her practice forms to Hushmail online forms.
“I was using PDFs. People can’t fill them out easily unless they have the pro version of Adobe that allows them to type in the form. And most don’t. It’s easy to assume that everyone is computer literate, but that’s just not the case. Most people would end up having to print the form, fill it out, and then use an app to scan it and send it back. They would have to do every page one at a time. So if it's a 15-page packet, that would take a while.”
It was a lot to ask of her clients, and she often had to spend time troubleshooting just to get her intake paperwork filled out. Hushmail gave her a new option, one she hoped would make the paperwork process much easier.
“I’ve asked each client how they feel about the new form format through Hushmail. The response has been amazing. My new clients love that they receive the information on a secure site. And they report that the forms are completed with ease. As their therapist, I have a new level of assurance that their personal information is secure. Downloading the completed forms is so amazing. With paper and pen documents, my clients would skip areas and not take the time to find the answers. The forms don’t allow them to skip anything. My paperwork is now clean, and I no longer have to worry about illegible documents being in my client files.”
Her clients were grateful for her virtual practice
Dr. Walker switched to a virtual practice at her home, having already weighed the pros and cons. She knew that if she got all of the business aspects set up, she’d come out ahead in terms of quality of life. As long as her clients stuck with her. As it turned out, not only did they stick with her, they were grateful she’d made the change.
“My clients would ask me if I was going back to the office. When I told them ‘no,’ they were so relieved. There was a very understandable reason for this. The agency I was in was for people in that community who were recovering from traumatic events. It was clear in the name what we did, and some of my clients feared being seen walking into the building. It automatically meant something bad had happened to you. Having a virtual office afforded my clients the right to privacy that they so deserve."
It was a revelation that made Dr. Walker feel she’d definitely made the right decision. In some situations, virtual might be better.
“A virtual office gives people a greater level of privacy. And gives me even greater HIPAA compliance. I’ve not lost anything by staying virtual and working from my home.”
Finally… life balance is possible again
When Dr. Walker went totally virtual, she rediscovered what it was like to enjoy life outside her work. Not having the multi-hour commute every day and drastically cutting back on her admin time with the help of Hushmail was huge. She found she had time to do things just for her.
“When you're working in such a high-intensity environment, it's not that you’re not happy doing your work. I was! But I was also carrying the weight of the atmosphere I was working in. Now, I get to take some time for myself to recharge. I love movies. A great massage. Being able to walk in the park, take a kickboxing class, jog outside, and just be a more holistic person. It’s wonderful!”
Bottomline, going virtual allowed Dr. Walker to be more in control of her time and, ultimately, her life. She now dictates where her time goes and to whom. She wouldn’t have it any other way.