Tips for HIPAA Compliant Message Platforms for Medical Pros

Learn tips for using HIPAA compliant messaging to connect with clients. Read how secure message apps can retain client engagement.

Client engagement and retention is fundamental for the success of any health and wellness business. Even more, offering a secure and streamlined client messaging system will save you time and keep their private health information safe. Healthie’s chat platform is a HIPAA-compliant way to securely connect with clients on-the-go.

This deep-dive covers best practices on incorporating Healthie’s Chat platform into your wellness business via the computer and mobile app.

We’ll cover real-case scenarios of how to practically use chat and all of its features in your wellness practice for the most engaging and effective client support. Learn different ways to engage with clients via chat, how to charge a fee for your client messaging services and how to set healthy communication boundaries within your practice.

Healthie Client Messaging Overview

More than a text-message style of communication, the Healthie chat feature is a built-in messenger tool that both you and your clients can access from any desktop or mobile device. Whether you’re in the office or on-the-go, you can message with your clients throughout the day.

In addition to exchanging messages, the chat platform also makes it easy to attach an image, video or document directly through your conversation thread.

The Healthie Chat platform allows you to:

  • Securely chat with clients between sessions
  • Available on web or through Healthie mobile app
  • Send group messages to multiple clients
  • Send message blasts to communicate with all clients at once
  • Share images, video links, and documents
  • Set an autoresponder / out-of-office message
  • Or disable chat for a client

Client Messaging: Multiple Ways to Connect

Through the Healthie Chat platform, there are multiple client messaging features that you can utilize with your wellness clients.

Take advantage of a single message, community chat, and message blast, and to streamline client messaging in your wellness practice. If you’re part of a multi-provider organization, you can build internal group conversation threads for your own secure group communication.

Connect in real-time via individual client messaging

Start a conversation with a single client. Answer client questions, view images they send (like pictures of products, food labels or their meals!) and send clients relevant videos or documents to help support them between sessions. Build a real connection with your clients, as they share their updates, wins, and challenges with you.

When you open a client message thread through Healthie chat on your computer, you’ll see a right-hand-side panel. This panel will give you quick access to important client information like upcoming appointments, financial overview, and basic information. Having all of the important information you need when chatting with a client will help save you time, and make your communication more effective.

Your time is valuable, and although you can offer unlimited client messaging between sessions for free, you can also make it an add-on service. Add it as a stand-alone concierge service that clients can pay for, or bundle it into a package (ie. 4-Week Wellness Program including 1 initial session, 3 follow-ups and unlimited chat/support between sessions)

Example Individual Message: “Hi Charlie! Happy Monday. How are you feeling about the goals we’ve set for this week?”

Streamline client messaging, send out message blasts

Have an update or a question that you want to ask multiple clients? Save time by sending out a single blast message to multiple clients or an entire group. Clients won’t be able to see or know that other clients also received your message, like with bcc’d emails.

Send out important practice notifications (ie. notify them that you have a new program or group webinar to sign up for!) or motivational tips/prompts (ie. Just checking in and seeing how the week is going, any questions?).

Example Message Blast: “Hi! Happy Monday, let’s get motivated! What’s one health goal you want to accomplish today?

Provide Group Support with Community Chat

Working with a group of clients for a specific program or challenge? Start a community chat with your group. Members in the community chat will be able to see the first name and last initial of others in the group, but they won’t be able to access any other information.

Community chat is a powerful tool, as members will receive individual support from you as well as the support of a whole group. Post daily motivational reminders, or ask questions to the group, and allow them to exchange helpful resources, recipes and more.

You can start community chats for free, or offer them as an add-on service or bundled within a program (ie. 30 Day Meal Prep Program, where subscribers receive weekly videos, a meal planning template, a recipe guidebook and access to the 30 Day Meal Prep Community Chat).

Example Community Chat: “Hi Meal Preppers! It’s Meal Prep Sunday and we’re making the “Baked Salmon with Roasted Root Vegetables,” today! Share a picture of your meal prep, and some ways that you changed up the recipe to make it your own.”

Stay connected with your team, with internal team chats

Connect with other members of your organization by creating a private community chat. Adjust your notifications to receive updates when you have a new message on the team community chat. Streamline how your team communicates, to make sure your team stays up-to-date.

Example Team Chat: “Hi Team! Remember, our next team meeting is tonight at 6pm. Bring your questions and a chart note on one client that you’d like some team input on.”

The Benefits of Client Messaging between Sessions

When working in private practice, it takes a myriad of sales, marketing, and business skills to attract and retain clients. Getting clients to come in the door requires one set of skills, but being able to keep them coming back over time and supporting them in their journey, really requires a whole other set of skills.

Being able to message and connect with clients between sessions is essential for client retention.

What your wellness clients gain via client messaging

  • Increases a sense of support. The ongoing feedback allows for clients to feel empowered and educated to make change
  • Provides another level of accountability. Most clients know what changes need to be made, but they need a helping hand to keep them accountable. When you message and communicate with clients between sessions, it increases their accountability. They know that there is someone there to answer their questions, ask them about their challenges and to keep them on track. Essentially, when clients are coming to you for nutrition and wellness guidance, they are looking for you to provide them with accountability.
  • Enhances motivation. To create lasting behavior change, your clients need to make consistent changes. Maintaining their motivation over time is an important part of counseling. When you are able to chat with your clients in real-time, it motivates them to stick with their changes and focus on their goals.
  • Keeps clients following up. Connecting with clients between sessions helps you to build a real connection with them. As they get to know and trust you, they’ll be willing to work through difficult times or challenges by continuing to follow-up. Clients will leave a session with you on a positive note, knowing that they have another session booked, but that they’ll have your support until then.

The Healthie chat feature has clear benefits for clients, but it also helps you in your business. As clients reach out and communicate with you, it helps you keep them on the top of your mind. You’ll be reminded of who needs a little extra guidance this week or needs to hear a positive word. When you have all of your clients and conversations organized in one convenient place, you can quickly scroll through your list and be proactive with engagement.

Don’t miss a single client message because it got lost in a sea of emails. Feel confident that your clients’ information is being kept private and secure. Choosing to use the Healthie Chat Feature will save you time, streamline your client and team connections and help improve your client retention.

Setting communication boundaries with your clients

Set expectations upfront

During an initial consultation with a new client, it is important to outline what the process of working with you looks like. They should know how often you’ll meet, what follow-ups will look like and how they can communicate with you between sessions. Your client messaging conversation should cover these important points:

  • What type of communication should be done via chat: messenger may be appropriate for general questions, sending food label pictures and asking for support. You may not want clients to message you with billing questions or to make appointments, so let them know upfront how they can handle those requests (ie. call the billing department directly for insurance or billing questions). If a client has an urgent question, or an immediate medical situation, they should know that chat is not the appropriate channel for client messaging. Setting this expectation upfront will keep both you, and your client, safe.
  • When to expect a response from you: when communicating via chat, it does not mean that you’re on call 24/7. If you don’t work on weekends, or prefer not to respond to messages after 6pm, let your clients know. You can suggest that they can message you at any time, but that you won’t respond until your working hours.

Determine how much time you want to commit to engaging with your clients via chat

Being tied to your phone and technology 24/7 can be draining. It’s important to look ahead at your day or week, and figure out how much time you can allocate to client engagement. Ultimately, when you run your own business, it feels like there is always more to be done, and that’s ok! Prioritizing your time, and using it wisely will help ensure that the most important tasks are getting done.  

Block of weekly time in your schedule to check in on clients or answer questions if you have a hard time consistently or proactively using chat. If you have downtime between client sessions (ie. there’s a gap in your schedule, or a client cancels last minute) you can use it to engage and answer questions.

Know when to tell a client that it’s time to schedule a follow-up

Some clients feel supported with a few quick exchanges between sessions, and other clients may need more support. If you’ve offered to connect with a client between sessions as a courtesy service (you aren’t charging them), then it’s crucial that you determine how much time, you’re willing to give away for free. This is especially important if a client does not have a follow-up appointment currently on the schedule.

One way to handle this situation is to offer between-session support as part of a package service that you offer. Your pricing can account for the amount of extra time that you’ll spend reaching out and message with your client between sessions. If you prefer, you can adjust chat settings to disable chat for any clients that are not paying for the premium support.

For insurance-based providers, you will not be able to bill insurance for emails, messages or food-diary reviews between sessions. Most claims will be reimbursed for in-person or telehealth virtual consults only. If you’re an insurance-based practice, then it’s especially important that you determine how much time you spend on client communications. You may want to consider offering a self-pay concierge service that includes between-session support, such as chat, food diary review and community chat access.

A quick rule of thumb: if it takes more than 5-10 minutes of your time to respond to a client’s questions or provide them with support, then your client could benefit from a follow-up. Here’s a quick scenario of a client question that would be time-intensive to respond to, and how you can direct a client to a paid follow-up session.

Client Question: “Hi, I’d like to know what a training schedule for a marathon should look like for me, and what I should eat to fuel myself.”

Dietitian Response: “Hi Charlie, thanks for reaching out, and that’s a great question. In order to work together to help you find the right training schedule, and a dietary plan, I’d suggest we have a follow-up session.”

Ready to streamline your client communication and increase retention rates?

Take a guided walk-through of our Healthie Chat feature, and learn how you can start streamlining client messaging and communication in your wellness business.

For Healthie Members: Deep-dives on making the most of Chat

Overview: Chatting with a client

Best Practices: Healthie Chat

FAQ’s Healthie Chat

Healthie Chat: Group Conversations

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