As a doctor, what do you think is your most precious resource?
For most, it's TIME, without a doubt! And for those who know me, know that I value my time above all. In the past, I've been a bit obsessed with finding ways to optimize my productive time, so I can spend time doing things that matter and give me the most joy, like spending time with my family and friends, walking my dogs, traveling, reading; you get the idea.
I’m an anesthesiologist, so I don’t have to deal with a lot of the back office type stuff that many other physicians have to deal with. However, just like anyone, there are so many daily things on my checklist to get taken care of.
As for other physicians, I know that there are several aspects of their job that they can easily delegate to further free up a few more hours in their day to spend it how they want.
So, what's the secret ingredient that can give all of us this freedom? A Virtual Assistant!
Initially, it was a bit strange and at times challenging for me to let go of the steering wheel and delegate stuff off my plate, but I've soon come to realize that it was one of the best decisions I ever made. In the past, I've talked about the benefits of hiring a virtual assistant in detail; you can check them out here and here.
In this article, I will share with you the steps involved in hiring a virtual assistant particularly for your practice and some tips to manage your virtual staff successfully. All of these steps can translate to looking for a personal virtual assistant as well.
What can a Virtual Healthcare Assistant do for you?
In the past few decades, the unparalleled technological advancements in the healthcare sector have made it increasingly easier for you to hire virtual medical assistants. This talent pool is trained in specific medical tasks and HIPAA regulations to protect patient confidentiality and to help you lighten your workload.
A virtual healthcare assistant can work remotely and integrate seamlessly into your system to assist you with your daily tasks like managing the office, scheduling appointments, bookkeeping, and technical support. Unlike a traditional assistant, a virtual assistant is location-independent and relatively lighter on your wallet. You can find virtual medical assistants who are registered nurses, medical billing, and coding specialists to support and grow your practice effectively.
Quick Overview of Tasks That You Can Delegate
1. Administrative Tasks
Make a list of all the administrative tasks that you can delegate to open up a huge block of time in your day. These tasks typically include – patient intake and referrals, scheduling appointments, data management, correspondence, prescription refills, and more.
2. Medical Transcription
You can find virtual assistants with experience in data entry for Electronic Medical Records (EMR) and Electronic Health Records (EHR). With encrypted video conferencing apps, you can have your virtual assistant chart information in real-time, or alternatively, you can have them transcribe information post-appointment per your dictations.
3. Virtual Receptionist
A virtual assistant can manage your front office just like a conventional receptionist to answer the phone, transfer urgent calls, timely relay messages, screen spam calls, and respond to communications sent through texts, emails, or live chats.
4. Billing, Coding, and Insurance Tasks
Your virtual assistant can coordinate with patients’ insurance companies and eliminate the wait time by sending out claims immediately. Further, your virtual assistant can check the patient's eligibility to authorize treatments in advance.
Your virtual assistant can take care of bills, send invoices, manage payroll, and create fiscal reports for you to keep track of cash flow.
6. Creative and Technical Support
Managing your website and social media accounts and responding to patient reviews are some of the marketing tasks that a virtual assistant can help you with to widen your business.
Six Easy Steps for Hiring a Virtual Assistant
Hiring a virtual assistant is quite different from hiring a freelancer. Freelancers are hired for a specific task with a set end date and might have multiple clients; however, a virtual assistant might have several tasks but will have a dedicated role on your team.
1. Document The Tasks You Wish To Delegate
Make a list of all the jobs you wish to delegate to your virtual assistant and document any outcomes you want to accomplish while assigning specific tasks. Invest time in developing a company guide to train your new employee efficiently.
2. Create A Detailed Job Description
Now that you've created a list of duties, it's time to create a job description that clearly lays out your expectations from your virtual assistant. This job description typically includes:
- Background information about your business
- Level of experience and qualification required
- List of duties and responsibilities
- Number of hours per week and the hourly rate
- List of apps or software that you plan to use
3. Post Your Job Description Online
Once you've outlined your job description, the next step is to post it online and start receiving applications. You can submit your job description through multiple channels like job portals, freelance marketplaces, and virtual assistant agencies. I've talked about various sources for hiring a virtual assistant in my earlier post; you can check it out right here.
Also, here are a few places to help you get started:
- Express Virtual Assistant
4. Review Applications And Schedule Interviews
Review applications as they come in and schedule an interview with the top 5 to 10 candidates. In addition to asking about their work experience and skill set, ask them about their goals, values, strengths, and management style to get an overall feel for their personality to determine if they'll be a good fit.
5. Offer Your Top Candidates A Test Job
Before you commit to hiring an individual, give your shortlisted candidates a task to complete, which would be a part of their routine, and compare their performance on that task. This step will help you narrow down your search and showcase their readiness.
6. Start With A Probation Period
Now that you've chosen your ideal candidate for the job, offer them a trial period of 4 to 12 weeks. This opportunity will give them an incentive to do a good job and give you the time to decide whether to go ahead with the employment or to terminate the contract.
Tips to Manage Your Virtual Assistant
Hiring a virtual assistant is just the start; it's your responsibility to train them and maintain a mutually beneficial professional relationship as their employer.
Here are some tips for managing your virtual staff effectively:
- Schedule weekly check-in calls
- Ask for weekly task reports
- Set clear communication goals to build trust
- Offer feedback and performance evaluation
- Avoid micromanagement
- Use communication tools like – Zoom, Slack, Microsoft Teams
- Use project management and file-sharing platforms like – Trello, Asana, Google Drive, or Dropbox
With our jobs getting more demanding by the day, a healthcare virtual assistant can help us manage the administrative and non-essential aspects of our practice and minimize the overall burnout.
Use this additional downtime to focus on things that are more important to you in life that could be growing your business, spending quality time with your loved ones, or investing time in yourself. Good luck with your search, and enjoy this newfound freedom!
In case you're already working with an awesome virtual assistant, feel free to share your experience in the comments section below!