Hiring a virtual assistant is a great decision for many businesses, but doctors and medical professionals often shy away from considering a VA.
Things like patient confidentiality requirements, physical paperwork from outdated systems, and a lack of medical knowledge are understandable roadblocks.
However, one of the things we hear all the time from doctors is that the administrative tasks involved in running a practice take a huge amount of mental energy and attention away from patient care. A VA is a great way to add time back into your day—and it doesn’t have to be complicated or scary if you can find the right one.
There are a lot of variables that doctors must consider as they interview a VA for their practice. Here are a few factors to take into consideration.
1. Do You Need a 9-to-5 VA or an Anytime VA?
The wonderful thing about virtual assistants is that they can take care of such a wide range of tasks, freeing you up for your patients.
Take a good look at your practice and decide where you need your VA to do the most work.
Do you need customer service or a patient scheduler during your office hours? A person to handle those long calls to insurance companies? Maybe there’s a backlog of records collecting virtual dust on your hard drive or patient histories to be entered.
Some of those tasks are specific to office hours, while others are quite flexible. You may need one or the other, or both. Taking some time to decide what you need in advance will help you get the right VA match for your practice.
2. Does Your VA Have a Background in Your Medical Field?
Your VA doesn’t need to have majored in biology or earned an advanced graduate degree, but it is definitely helpful if they have more than a basic knowledge of your specialty. If you’re an oncologist, you may want your prospective VA to come in with knowledge about cancer stages or the differences between chemotherapy and radiation. If you’re a chiropractor, look for a VA that believes in your approach to wellness.
Mental health providers should take special note: There’s a lot of stigma about mental illness and seeking treatment, so your VA should be sensitive to your work. As one client told me, “This would be so hard if you didn’t believe in ADHD!” Your VA’s understanding and receptiveness will lay the foundation for a great team.
3. Should Your VA Ask for Help?
Discretion and sensitivity are hallmarks of a good virtual assistant, and they are especially important qualities for someone handling confidential patient information. If you intend to have your VA provide customer service, be sure to have very clear guidelines about what your VA can and cannot answer in advance of hiring.
The ideal medical VA should take initiative in clearing tasks off your plate but also be conservative about answering patient questions. They shouldn’t be afraid to double-check with you if they aren’t sure, and you should be ready to work with your VA to develop customer service scripts that your VA can use for safe and efficient customer service.
4. Can Your VA Help Your Professional Development?
Who has time to keep abreast of all the conferences, continuing credit hours, and networking opportunities in your field? Your VA will!
Consider how you can direct your VA’s time toward facilitating those career-building activities that you want and need to do but don’t always have time to research. Virtual assistants with project management backgrounds are ideal for medical professionals with multiple plates to spin.
Remember: Your VA isn’t limited to just customer service or data entry.
Your VA is your conference tracker, travel scheduler, and paper chaser. There are loads of opportunities for your VA to streamline processes and do the research for you so that you can stay ahead of new developments in the field while caring for patients.
Does the idea of a tidy report of upcoming opportunities—all vetted by someone who knows your professional development goals—appeal to you? Then a VA might be right for your business.
5. Do You Want to Build Your Social Media Presence?
One long-term goal for your VA is building up your practice on social media.
If you aren’t interested in learning the ins-and-outs of graphic design, hashtagging, becoming an Instagram influencer, or managing a Facebook page and community, look for a VA who is comfortable turning the medical services you provide into a marketable package. Not everyone wants to be Dr. Pimple Popper, but everyone wants to draw in new business!
Your focus is patient care. Your priorities are the science and developments in your field that allows you to serve your patients to the best of your ability. Hiring the right VA—one who is discreet, confident, fluent in medical language, and conscientious when handling customers—can take your practice to the next level while freeing you up to do what you love most.
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