Wondering whether you should hire a healthcare virtual assistant?
Many health care practitioners spend a significant amount of time on tasks not related to health care, such as administration, sending emails, etc.
You may have a receptionist to manage specific admin tasks, but when it comes to dealing with patient follow-up, answering their queries over a call, or even giving some non-clinical advice, you’re on your own.
Yes, you can hire a personal assistant who can handle these tasks. But it can be really expensive.
Don’t you wish that there was a cost-effective alternative?
Fortunately, there is!
The healthcare sector has seen tremendous technological advancement in the past few decades. You can now hire healthcare virtual assistants to help you lighten your workload.
In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about healthcare virtual assistants, and we’ll also highlight a few tips to help you manage them effectively.
This article covers
(click on the link to jump to that section)
- What is a Healthcare Virtual Assistant?
- What Tasks Does a Healthcare Virtual Assistant Do?
- How to Hire a Healthcare Virtual Assistant?
- 3 Smart Tips for Managing a Healthcare Virtual Assistant
- 5 Key Benefits of Hiring a Healthcare Virtual Assistant
Let’s get started.
What is a healthcare virtual assistant?
A healthcare virtual assistant is an individual who works remotely and can help you with routine tasks such as managing the front office, setting patient appointments, patient engagement, etc.
Unlike a traditional assistant, a virtual assistant (VA) works from a remote location, and their salary is easy on your pocket!
Why should you hire them?
Hiring a virtual medical assistant can be a great addition to your in-house medical team, especially if you’re just starting your private practice and can’t afford a full-time assistant yet.
Some VAs may also have a nursing background and HIPAA training, which can be useful since they can handle certain medical tasks such as medical transcription, live charting, etc.
Medical virtual assistants need not always be a person.
With the technological advancement in artificial intelligence (AI), you can also opt for an AI-based healthcare virtual assistant.
An AI-powered intelligent virtual assistant is a computer program that uses and understands natural spoken language to interact with professionals in the healthcare industry.
It uses machine learning, speech recognition, neural networks, and deep learning to behave as close to humans as possible.
AI healthcare VAs are similar to voice-enabled assistants like Alexa from Amazon. However, they have specific medical features that allow them to:
- Access EHR (electronic health records.)
- Schedule appointments.
- Re-order medicines, and more.
AI medical assistants are growing in popularity every year.
According to Health IT Analytics, this healthcare virtual assistant market is expected to see a 50% CAGR growth by 2025!
What tasks does a healthcare virtual assistant do?
Let’s take a look at some tasks you can delegate to your virtual assistant:
1. Administrative tasks
You may not realize it initially, but managerial tasks take up a lot of your time.
Many tasks need to be done in a healthcare facility daily, from scheduling patient appointments to converting their physical records to digital ones.
Your medical virtual assistant can look after all these tasks and ensure a smooth clinical workflow in your office.
Some important administrative tasks that your VA can take up include:
- Conversion of paper forms to digital health history forms.
- Managing EMR (Electronic Medical Records.)
- Scheduling patient appointments.
- Verifying insurance documents.
- Billing for medical services.
These tasks are an integral part of patient care; hence it’s crucial to get them done efficiently.
2. Patient support
Patients may have a few queries which they may forget to ask during the appointment.
Calls, emails, text messages are some ways in which they can communicate these queries.
Having a virtual health assistant take care of these virtual queries will free your in-house team to pay attention to patients that are physically present or tasks that need to be done in person.
Here are a few patient support tasks your VA can help you with:
- Providing patient support through email, messaging, online chats, etc.
- Answering general patient queries.
- Processing prescription refill requests.
- Updating patients about scheduled appointments, etc.
3. Technical and creative tasks
A lot of the virtual assistants have good technical knowledge, and some of them may even be skilled in content writing.
Using these skills to boost your online presence will help you widen your reach and grow your healthcare practice.
You can get the following tasks done from your technologically literate VA:
- Digital marketing.
- Managing your social media account.
- Developing a website with a friendly user interface.
- Creating related and engaging content for your website or social media.
- Helping with IT support whenever required.
While these skills may not be mandatory for a healthcare setup, having them will add significant value to your healthcare practice.
Now let’s see how you can hire the right healthcare virtual assistant.
How to hire a healthcare virtual assistant?
One of the most essential attributes of any virtual assistant, especially a healthcare one, is the attention to detail.
The healthcare industry involves a lot of highly sensitive patient information (such as laboratory reports, diagnosis, treatment information, etc.)
Even a slight mistake can have severe consequences for you and your patients.
Hence, it’s crucial to have an assistant with attributes such as:
- Strong work ethic.
Even if your VA doesn’t have a medical background, having these soft skills will make them a great value-addition to your care team.
So, where can you find a VA?
You can find virtual assistants virtually anywhere!
There are various online platforms that have a large pool of trained and professional healthcare virtual assistants to choose from.
Let’s take a look at them:
1. Virtual assistant agency
If you are unsure about where to begin, you have the option of outsourcing the task to an agency.
They can suggest candidates within your budget, and some may also provide replacements if needed.
Here are some companies which provide virtual assistants:
20four7VA provides virtual assistant services to the healthcare industry.
Almost every virtual medical assistant can perform tasks such as:
- Digitizing the health history forms.
- Patient support through calls, chat, etc.
- IT support and digital marketing.
HelloRache offers healthcare virtual assistants to veterinary, dental, and healthcare professionals.
Most of the assistants are HIPAA trained, have a nursing background, and can use any EMR or EHR. All their VAs are based in Asia Pacific countries like the Philippines.
2. Individual virtual assistant
If you wish to bypass the agencies, you can also directly hire individual VAs from various job sites.
You just have to post your job requirements on these sites and have the candidates send over their CVs.
Some of these sites include:
Upwork is an online platform where you can create job postings or even directly see freelancers who have listed themselves as a medical assistant.
Indeed is a global employment website, which allows you to post job listings.
These then become visible to the registered candidates, who can directly apply for your job through the portal.
3. AI-based virtual assistant
If you’re looking for an AI-based virtual assistant solution that can be used by medical professionals, and your patients, here are two great options:
A. Nuance Communications
Nuance Communications is a software provider that offers voice-enabled intelligent virtual assistant services to your medical care team.
It employs natural language processing to enable automatic speech recognition, text-to-speech, and optical character recognition (OCR).
Engagely is another software provider that uses the power of artificial intelligence to enhance patient care.
It has features that are beneficial for any hospital, clinician, and patient.
You can create your own personalized chatbot, so your patients can share their queries with ease.
3 smart tips for managing a healthcare virtual assistant
So how do you ensure that your virtual assistant works well within your healthcare organization?
These tips will help you manage your healthcare VA:
1. Define your expectations precisely
You should consider your virtual assistant like any other employee and clearly define their responsibilities and tasks.
This means you should show them the procedure for doing a particular task, to avoid any misunderstanding on either side.
2. Communicate everyday
Regular communication is the key to an efficient and successful clinical workflow.
You can use different communication tools to be in constant contact with your virtual assistant.
Here are the two types of communications tools you can use:
A. Instant messaging
These tools allow you to:
- Share tasks and files.
- Sort out simple issues.
- Streamline processes by creating separate channels for each member.
Some of these tools include Slack, Rivers IM, etc.
B. Video calling
Some queries are better resolved when discussed over a video call.
You can use these tools to:
- Conduct team meetings.
- Share your screen.
- Interact with your virtual care team.
Zoom, Skype, Google Meet, etc., are some popular video calling tools.
3. Monitor performance and productivity
Like other remote workers, you can easily monitor your virtual assistant using different tools.
Such tools allow you to monitor:
- The exact hours worked by the virtual assistant.
- Time spent on each task or project.
- Websites visited during working hours.
The one tool that enables you to access all these insights is Time Doctor.
So, what is Time Doctor?
Time Doctor is a robust employee time tracking and productivity management tool used by major companies and small businesses to monitor their remote workers in real-time, and boost overall productivity.
It allows you to:
- Get a detailed breakdown of the time spent on each task.
- Monitor time spent on each project.
- Generate and access detailed reports regarding time use, website visits, etc.
- Directly pay them through different gateways like PayPal, Wise, formerly TransferWise, etc.
5 key benefits of hiring a healthcare virtual assistant
Still not convinced about hiring a virtual health assistant for your clinic?
Here are five more reasons why you need a VA for your healthcare practice:
1. Save money
Here are some ways in which your medical virtual assistant can help you save money:
A. No fixed salaries
You need to pay your virtual assistant only for the time they actively work on your tasks. You can also decide the amount based on the hours worked, the number of clients handled, etc.
This means you don’t have to pay them a fixed salary, which may be costly if you want to hire a full-time in-house assistant.
B. No additional costs
A VA is not a full-time employee, so you don’t have to pay for their employee benefits like pension, health insurance, etc.
C. No special setup required
By hiring a VA, you can save on a lot of costs that you would otherwise require for an office setup. This includes a desk, phone line, computer, etc.
You also don’t need to free up a particular space in your healthcare organization to accommodate the assistant, allowing you to have a larger waiting area, a pantry, etc.
2. Access the best talent
Since a virtual assistant works remotely, you can choose your assistant from a larger talent pool and hire the best one, irrespective of their location.
You can even hire great assistants from different countries, which may be more cost-effective.
3. Get more time with patients
As a clinician, your primary focus is on optimum health care and giving patients adequate time during consultation and follow-up.
A majority of private practitioners are worried they don’t get to concentrate entirely on their patients due to non-medical tasks.
A healthcare virtual assistant will free you from these chores and perform tasks like setting up schedules, sending emails, ordering supplies, etc.
It will enable you to focus on your patient care related tasks.
4. Improve the patient experience
A long waiting period, behind-schedule doctors, incompetent staff, and many others are some major complaints that might jeopardize your healthcare practice, especially when you’re just getting started.
Virtual assistants help to streamline this process and enhance the patient experience.
Additionally, since VAs are virtually present, they prevent crowding in the patient room by scheduling appointments.
And with the VAs taking care of your admin tasks, you can spend more time with your patients.
5. 24×7 availability
A trained healthcare virtual assistant is a great asset when it comes to being available 24 X 7 for your patients.
Patients and caregivers (especially anxious ones) have many health-related queries and would like to have them answered accurately and instantly.
As a clinician, you may not have the time to handle such patients personally, especially during the COVID 19 pandemic.
But your trained VA will be able to calm and reassure your patients whenever needed.
With the healthcare system getting more demanding, a virtual assistant can help you get all your non-medical tasks done. This way, you can reduce the impact of physician burnout.
They can help you to focus on things that are most important to you as a medical practitioner, and in turn, boost your reputation and grow your healthcare practice.
Follow the guidelines and tools discussed above to hire a good healthcare virtual assistant, and focus your energy on making the world a healthier place!
Good luck finding the perfect medical virtual assistant!
Andy is a technology & marketing leader who has delivered award-winning and world-first experiences.