By 2027, the number of freelancers in the United States is expected to reach over 86.5 million. This is according to statistics compiled by 99 Firms. Accordingly, companies can save up to 78% of costs by hiring remote virtual assistants; as such, more than 80% of companies in the US are considering more flexible workforce solutions in the future.
In the healthcare sector, a report published by Research and Markets in April of 2021 estimates the global market of healthcare virtual staff from $1.1 billion in 2021 to a whopping $6.0 billion by 2026, at a compound annual growth rate of 39.5% for the five-year period.
Flexibility. This is what companies are looking for when considering hiring virtual assistant healthcare professionals. Interestingly, flexibility is also what medical assistants and virtual assistants consider as the most significant advantage of their jobs.
What is a Healthcare Virtual Staff?
A healthcare virtual staff is a healthcare professional who takes care of most of the administrative tasks of house call physicians, specialists, surgeons, psychiatrists, psychologists, dentists, and even veterinarians. They are considered the powerhouse professionals in most clinics, hospitals, and other healthcare institutions. They handle the day-to-day workload, organizing physician calendars, setting up insurance policies, following up on appointments, to name a few.
Aside from the flexibility they offer in your workforce structure, hiring a healthcare virtual staff also has the following benefits:
- They are highly trainable and can be considered for bigger roles later on.
- They practice open communication.
- It’s cost-efficient to hire virtual assistants.
- They have resilience and grit.
- You don’t need to worry about the additional workspace.
Virtual Assistant Healthcare – Not to be Confused with AI
A virtual medical assistant, medical virtual assistant, healthcare virtual staff, virtual health assistant, or virtual assistant healthcare may also refer to the rising technology in the virtual space. This includes AI-powered chatbots, cybersecurity applications, automatic speech recognition software, text-to-speech apps, and smart speakers like Amazon’s Alexa.
While we generally love technology, this article is intended to provide a comprehensive perspective on virtual medical assistants, live in person, although primarily remotely working to give ease to other healthcare professionals.
How the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated virtual assistant services in healthcare
Virtual assistant healthcare workers are nothing new. Ever since the internet was widely used in the 1990s, businesses have looked for ways to perform tasks remotely and outsource specific administrative duties.
In this era of the COVID-19 pandemic, social distancing is among the norms, and there has been a surge in demand for more medical assistants and virtual assistants. They can work remotely in the comforts of their homes, thus minimizing the risks of acquiring the virus from face-to-face interactions.
This pandemic has significantly impacted several companies to the point of shutting down or acquiring more stable institutions that could continue their operations while adopting new employees. While there’s that, other business owners have resorted to outsourcing instead. Virtual assistant services have helped offset revenue loss caused by the pandemic, thus avoiding a permanent or temporary business shutdown.
The flexibility offered by hiring virtual healthcare assistants goes beyond cost savings. One of the most significant benefits they bring is – time. Most healthcare virtual staff are onboarding-ready. They require very little to no training, as they have multifaceted skills that can match your business needs. In addition, you don’t need time spent on planning on the infrastructure since you don’t need to set up a separate office, nor do you have to purchase additional work on computers, phones, headsets, company badges, uniforms, the list goes up to toilet napkins. Virtual assistants generally already have these.
And the need for healthcare virtual staff is expected to continue post-pandemic. Companies are now well aware of their wide range of advantages, pandemic or no pandemic.
Does a healthcare virtual staff need a medical background?
Yes and no. It will be very advantageous to your job responsibilities if you have a medical background and are deeply familiar with the terminology used in the healthcare industry. However, job posts from online job search companies will require having completed medical assistant training, and some companies will even provide their training. Depending on the tasks they intend to outsource, other companies may not require a medical assistant training certificate at all.
If you’re looking to obtain a medical assistant training certificate, you can visit AAMA. Take note that this certification covers on-site medical assistant jobs instead of virtual healthcare assistant positions.
For a healthcare virtual staff, some of the skills needed are as follows:
- Computer Literacy – email applications, spreadsheets, etc.
- Communication Skills – both verbal and written.
- Word Processing Skill – writing reports, creating documents.
What Tasks Does a Healthcare Virtual Staff Do?
If you think being a healthcare virtual staff is a walk-in-the-park kind of job, you’ll be surprised to know that they perform a wide array of tasks and daily duties. Imagine doctors and physicians performing these tasks on their own – this goes to show just how much time and money clinics and health institutions save when they include the aide of virtual healthcare staff in their workforce.
We have listed below a comprehensive list of medical virtual assistants’ responsibilities. Depending on the nature of their company, there may be more not included in this list.
1. Virtual Receptionist or Virtual Front Desk – Being a virtual receptionist is just like a receptionist living in the office, except you’re doing it over the phone. A virtual receptionist’s warm greeting represents clinics’ enthusiasm for their patients, so a necessary cheerful, positive, and attentive tone.
- Answering calls and relaying information to physicians
- Routing calls to appropriate departments or physicians
- Providing general information for patient queries
- Confirming appointments over the phone, or other channels
2. Administrative Tasks – These tasks take most of the physician’s time, so they often get outsourced. Most of these tasks do not require a doctor’s degree and are expected to be repetitive. A virtual assistant then needs attention to detail so he won’t miss out on important information fulfilling these tasks.
- Intake of new patients and referrals
- Appointment setting — scheduling, managing cancelations, and sending reminders to physicians
- Calendar management — creating a doctor’s schedule that includes appointments with patients as well as other commitments, such as meetings and events
- Organize files in your database.
- Email management — responding to physician messages and clearing your inbox
- Digitizing health history forms
- Managing EMRs (electronic medical records) and EHRs (electronic health records)
3. Patient Support – Any task that has something to do with the patients, a healthcare virtual staff needs to provide care and understanding. Remember that you are supposed to help them out, not to make their patient experience uncomfortable.
- Providing patient support through email, messaging, online chats, etc.
- Processing prescription refill requests
- Patient appointment scheduling
- Follow-ups on patient appointments
- Medical authorizations
- Eligibility processing
4. Insurance Processing – Some of the tasks related to insurance can also be repetitive and can be outsourced to a healthcare virtual staff.
- Insurance verification
- Verifying insurance documents
- Providing insurance claims processing information
5. Bookkeeping and Accounting – Taking care of the company’s financial records can also be part of a healthcare virtual staff’s responsibilities.
- Medical billing and coding
- Organizing patient invoice and billing, account receivables, and expense-related payments
6. Office Management – Supply management entails identifying, acquiring, and managing resources and suppliers essential to the organization’s operations. Some virtual assistants are also given this responsibility.
- Supply management — keeping track of supplies and ordering new items when necessary
- Managing supplies inventory
- Communicating with suppliers for supply delivery and fulfillment
7. Technical Duties and Tech Support – A VA doesn’t have to be technically savvy to perform these duties; he just needs the correct information and tools.
- Assisting in website development
- Digital marketing
- Helping with IT support whenever required
- Medical software setup
- Assisting application usage, installation, and troubleshooting
- Providing tech support for clinic-supplied equipment and apparatus
8. Marketing – For clinics and healthcare companies that need to expand their client lists, virtual healthcare staff may be asked to periodically perform digital or traditional marketing functions.
- Managing email campaigns
- Sending online fliers to existing and potential clients and patients
9. Creative Tasks – Keeping social media accounts is not just limited to clinics and hospitals, and doctors and physicians are now using this platform to extend their services to patients. Healthcare VAs can also be social media VAs depending on the company’s – or the doctor’s requirement.
- Managing your social media account
- Creating related and engaging content for your website or social media