One of the biggest challenges of anyone looking into hiring a healthcare virtual assistant is where to begin the process. There are several factors to consider prior to hiring one for your business or clinic. In fact, the rise in the demand for healthcare virtual assistants confirms the efficiency and quality of service healthcare virtual assistants provide globally.
What is a Healthcare Virtual Assistant
Healthcare assistants are the powerhouse professionals of every clinic or the healthcare business. How so? They are professional, often licensed medical practitioners, usually based offshore, who handle the day-to-day workload to get a patient in the calendar process, insurance, and even follow-up appointments.
Did we mention “powerhouse professionals”? Absolutely, as they not only wear the role related to their medical profession but can even take on tasks that are administrative in nature.
Who can benefit from a Virtual Healthcare Assistant?
Just about anyone who works in healthcare can benefit from the services of a Healthcare Virtual Assistant. This includes house call physicians, surgeons, specialists, psychologists, psychiatrists, dentists, and even veterinarians.
They can also work in clinics, urgent care centres, nursing homes, rehabilitation centres, group practices, mental healthcare facilities, to name a few.
Degree in Nursing or Related Medical Certifications
Ideally, to become an excellent healthcare virtual assistant, one must possess a relevant medical degree or certifications
Hands-on experience working in the hospital or clinics is a huge plus since virtual patient care also required the same quality and knowledge in healthcare.
Another trait includes proficiency in communication skills. Do not mistake this as excellence in grammar or semantics. What this means is that the level of English communication skills passes the standard occupational English proficiency. To learn more about this, you can head search more about Occupational English Test.
Comparing Medical Assistant with Nursing Background
In the healthcare industry, healthcare virtual assistants are mainly used to improve clinical workflows and help healthcare professionals manage administrative tasks efficiently.
In fact, the two most popular fields in healthcare virtual assistants are medical assisting and nursing.
Let’s explore the similarities and differences between both fields.
What is a medical assistant?
Medical assistants are also known as clinical assistants. They are health professionals who support the work of other medical professionals. They work primarily in outpatient or ambulatory care facilities like medical offices and clinics. Medical Assistants are highly trained in both clinical and administrative duties as well.
The following responsibilities are also done by a medical assistant:
- Taking patient medical histories and interviews
- Explaining patient treatment procedures
- Assisting patience in preparing for medical exams and tests
- Assisting physicians during patient exams
- Preparing and collecting specimens for analysis
- Sometimes even performing some tests
- Updating medical records
- Encoding forms
- Handling billing and bookkeeping
Medical assistants need not take board exams. Instead, they need to secure valid certifications from accredited institutions that offer programs for medical assistance.
What is a nurse?
Nurses are licensed medical practitioners who provide critical health care to the public. Nurses perform comprehensive physical exams on patients, review their medical histories, facilitate patient endorsements and admissions, provide health counseling, and administer medications. They work side-by-side with physicians in medical situations and emergencies.
A nurse’s role also includes:
- Educating patients about the management of their illnesses and medications
- Advocating for the health and well being of the public
- Recording patient symptoms and medical history
- Monitoring and recording patient vitals
- Performing other medical procedures
- Administering vaccines and IVs
- Performing diagnostic tests and exams
Medical assistants vs. nurse: What are the differences?
Medical assistants generally are expected to complete a two-year course specifically in medical assistance. However, there is some medical assistant who is trained on-the-job by shadowing experienced members and may even join employer-based accredited training programs.
Nursed, on the other hand, need to finish an undergraduate program and secure a license to practice (LPN) or become a registered nurse (RN). The undergraduate program for RNs is a four-year program, and to become an LPN, you only need to complete two years of the program.
Scope of Practice
Medical assistant work under the direction of a licensed physician or registered nurse. A registered nurse works under their own individual license, and therefore can carry out more complex tasks when caring for patients.
Duties and responsibilities
Medical assistants perform a variety of duties, mostly administrative but can also include patient care responsibilities. Often, medical assistants only carry out instructions set by the physician. Meanwhile, nurses focus more on patient care than administrative tasks. They are equally as trained to also carry outpatient care plans apart from following doctor’s orders.
Both medical assistants and registered nurses are in high demand globally. In fact, the employment of RNs is projected to grow by 12% from 2018 to 2028. Medical assistants are projected to grow 23% from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations.
Types of medical assistant jobs
Here are a few options available for medical assistant positions:
- Medical assistant
- Certified medical assistant
- Medical administrative assistant
Types of medical assistant jobs
Here are a few options for nursing positions:
- Emergency room nurse
- Travel Nurse
- Registered nurse manager
8 Reasons Why Healthcare Virtual Assistants can Help Your Medical Practice
1. Healthcare virtual assistants can help you save money
As a doctor, your goal is to help people and run their own self-employed business. However, you cannot be a master of two kings. That is why you should consider hiring a medical virtual assistant. Since these assistants work remotely and are usually regulated by a strict standard set by their outsourcing company, they can save you quite a bit of money in personal costs. You only need to pay for the work done without any added expenses on office setup, fixed costs, and other extra expenses. Often, hiring a healthcare virtual assistant comes with a favourable hourly rate too.
2. You can focus more on patients
As an in-demand physician, your time spent on patients weighs more than any other administrative or clerical tasks involved in patient care. Having a healthcare virtual assistant collect information, organise schedules in the calendar, verifying insurance policies, obtaining relevant documents, will no doubt free you up of the time needed to provide for patient care.
3. Improve patient experience
Healthcare virtual assistants are excellent communicators. Since they have a background working hands-on in the medical field, they are able to communicate and explain processes and instructions at a level that patients can easily understand. They are also excellent at empathising, making the patient experience even more bearable and on time every time.
4. Maintain your flexibility in your office
A healthcare virtual assistant is trained in several skills, which means she or he can carry out tasks wherever needed. Moreover, your healthcare virtual does not need your physical office space, giving you the opportunity to maximise space utilisation to accommodate even more patients.
5. Enhance workplace productivity
One of the biggest pluses of hiring a healthcare virtual assistant is that she or he is a productive asset to the team. Because they are working remotely and paid by the hour, they have razor-sharp focus and are reliable when it comes to time. Their rigorous training in their specialisations plus work productivity is what sets them apart from other fields. A good thing to note too is that because of their remote setup, they are less prone to office gossip or drama that usually hampers productivity.
6. Highly qualified workforce
Healthcare virtual assistants are highly-skilled, often certified or licensed even. Because of the hard work they have put into their course of a career, they take pride in providing excellent healthcare service to the public. They do not like wasting time, as their concept of time has been reinforced during education and training, that every second counts in saving a life. To add, healthcare virtual assistants have higher accountability compared to other professions as they are well aware that the career they chose involved handling patient health, and is therefore imperative for them to provide the best service they could give.
7. Specialised Task Assistance
Highly skilled, and often multi-passionate HVA’s are trained to use multiple tools and platforms to complete tasks. They are efficient in handling phone calls especially with the use of internet phones. They are also skilled in medical invoicing, updating records and sending electronic invoices. Another skill to add is data management. Healthcare virtual assistants can organise patient records and even draft documents in the back office needed for operations.
One unique skill of HVA’s involves Insurance pre-certification. Since each patient’s case is different, they need to check the patient’s medical insurance to check the coverage of the healthcare services the patient is availing. This involves a lot of verification and calculation. Physicians are best to delegate this tedious task instead.
Bonus skill of every healthcare virtual assistant is medical transcription. Imagine the plethora of medical terms and instructions needed for patient care. Your healthcare virtual assistant will transcribe calls, organise them, and attach them with the right patient records.
8. Healthcare Virtual Assistants make you take care of your health too
It is uncommon for physicians to lose track of their own well-being while taking care of others. This comes with the hippocratic oath they took in making sure their life’s mission of saving as many lives as they can.
How can a healthcare virtual assistant help?
Since you are now free of the daily small tasks needed for patient care, you now have time to focus on the bigger picture – time with patients. And once the day is done, you don’t have to fill in administrative tasks and take phone calls. Personal time will become more convenient.
An Inside Look of A Day in the Life of a Healthcare Virtual Assistant
With the wide variety of administrative tasks as the main focus these can include some or more of the following:
1. Virtual Receptionist
This involves answering calls, resolving issues over the phone, taking messages, and transferring urgent calls to you.
2. Keeping patient record
All information needs to be tracked and recorded for each patient to build accurate medical history for future diagnosis, and sometimes even legal requirements.
3. Addressing patient queries
This includes clearing out emails, and dealing with queries that are admin related, such as transcripts, invoices, referrals
4. Insurance processing
This task involves carrying out pre-authorisation of consultations with patient insurance providers and completing paperwork for claims.
5. Office Management
This includes ordering of medical supplies and general office management tasks.
Top 6 Qualifications of a Healthcare Virtual Assistant
Now you are ready to hire your first healthcare virtual assistant. So what are the qualities you need to look for to make sure your investment goes a long way?
Trait #1 Reliability
Professionalism is paramount in the healthcare virtual assistant field. Therefore, they have to make sure to follow through with their commitment to show up on time every time and deliver tasks regularly with excellence.
Trait #2 Accuracy
Taking note of patient information especially in health history and insurance policies, doctor’s instructions, and even medication plan, require high attention to details and focus. Every word and number counts. Remember, you are dealing with patient health and there is no room for mistakes in providing correct information to the best healthcare.
Trait #3 Communicates Well
Physicians always need to know the status of their tasks. Therefore, it is important to make sure all instructions are received and sent correctly will full context and clarity. Even in dealing with patients, providing care instructions or status updates require the same quality of communication, complete with details and context.
Trait #4 Self-directed
With the mammoth tasks involved in daily operations, HVA’s need to have the discipline in carrying out tasks promptly and efficiently. Planning ahead and sorting tasks will greatly impact the ability to deliver tasks well.
Trait #5 Resourceful
Clinics and physicians have no time to dilly-dally. They work with multiple patients and clients in a day, making it close to impossible to spoon-feed information. An excellent healthcare virtual assistant knows this limitation and is therefore required to be creative in finding solutions to send and receive useful information to get the job done.
Trait#6 Can Manage Expectations
You are paying for a professional. You want to make sure you hire someone who is confident of their abilities to deliver the tasks required. To help ensure this, most healthcare virtual assistants hold degrees, licenses and certifications to help back up their qualification for the role.
4 Must Have Skills for a Healthcare Virtual Assistant
Skill #1 Word Processing Skill
Knowledge in basic word processing skill is a must, as all virtual assistant roles require drafting documents, writing reports, preparing spreadsheets, and even designing presentations. This does not always mean encoding, but also drafting documents with accuracy.
Skill #2 Oral Communication and Writing Skills
No, this does not mean being an orator or proficient writer, rather this is the ability to send and receive communication in various forms through various channels with clarity and precision.
Skill #3 Computer Skills
We have long been in the digital age. This means the majority of the day-today activities, especially at work requires the use of computers. Basic programs like spreadsheets, sending emails, using a CRM, or even effective internet research skills is important to master.
Skill #4 Sound Decision-Making Skills
Lastly, the capability to think and make the right decisions promptly are vital especially in times when the physical demands tasks done without their supervision. The ability to explore, research, compartmentalize information to go about a win-win decision, are indeed priceless in this role.