Employing a virtual assistant in your medical practice

The many benefits of utilizing virtual assistant in the physician’s office have become clear to many. Physicians report greater job satisfaction, patient retention and cost-efficiency as some of the most obvious areas impacted by the use of virtual assistants in their practices.

Physicians preparing to shift some of their staffing needs to a virtual assistant or virtual assistance company have many questions and concerns that will be addressed by the person or company they hire, but some time should go into preparing for that transition beforehand. This will make the process of hiring a virtual assistant quicker and more seamless.

When making the decision to hire one or more virtual assistants, physicians usually first consider what tasks they want the virtual assistant to be handling. Perhaps a better way to approach this question is to think about what tasks you want your office staff to be more focused on.

Many physicians state increased personal attention to patients as a primary goal in employing a virtual assistant. For your office, this may mean shifting the responsibilities of insurance verification, scheduling and patient follow-up calls from your reception staff to a virtual assistant.

If one of your goals is to decrease the number of on-site employees and lessen your payroll burden, then using virtual assistants to handle billing, coding, transcription, mailings, data entry and ordering may be top priorities.

Once you have an idea of the tasks you want to shift off-site, you can prepare a more detailed list of duties and schedules to discuss with the virtual assistant or virtual assistance provider. Virtual assistants for the health care field generally have at least five years of experience working within a medical office environment and many have a great deal of experience in certain positions such as transcription and billing. High-quality work is not only standard, it is usually guaranteed.

Another consideration is the scheduling of work. You may need virtual assistance during office hours, such as for patient follow-up, insurance verification and scheduling, or you may be offering after-hours work such as transcription and billing. Many physicians’ offices end up with a combination of the two. The virtual assistance provider will work with you to develop the best schedule for your needs.

As with any transition or change, forethought and planning go a long way toward the success of the move. Once you have the vision of how you want your office impacted, the virtual assistance provider can help make it reality.

Daniel McKennitt is a family medicine resident.

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