According to a study published by the American College of Physicians, primary care physicians spend 49% of their work day completing administrative tasks. This leaves them very little time to dedicate to their primary responsibility i.e. the patients. If you’re a doctor whose focus is treating people, not spending almost half the day scheduling their appointments, it’s time to hire a virtual medical assistant.

What is a Virtual Medical Assistant?

A virtual medical assistant is an individual who works remotely to help doctors complete their administrative tasks. Activities like patient scheduling, billing, and insurance verification are handled by this assistant, at a far cheaper cost than hiring a regular, full-time assistant. This frees up the doctor’s time, and allows them to focus on treating patients. Virtual medical assistants are the most useful for doctors with smaller practices, who may not want the hassle of establishing a full administrative apparatus.

What Can a Virtual Medical Assistant Do?

1.       Patient scheduling

Virtual medical assistants can handle all basic tasks like calling patients to schedule appointments, following up on appointments, providing reminders, and dealing with cancellations.

2.       Billing and Accounting

A virtual medical assistant can also take care of all billing and accounting related requirements of your clinic. They will ensure that you have accurate records of payments made by patients, and of the various expenditures of the practice - printing prescription pads, rental costs of the clinic, and salaries of other doctors employed by the practice.

3.       Handling insurance claims

Virtual medical assistants can handle all insurance related activities, including checking patient eligibility, pre-authorization, and plan-specific benefits. This ensures a lower number of insurance claim rejections, thereby benefiting both the doctor and the patient. It also saves the patients the hassle of having to contact their insurance carrier themselves.

4.       Maintaining patient records

Accurate patient records are important for a doctor to successfully treat them; they give an overview of the patient’s medical history, previous treatments, and the efficacy of these treatments. Virtual medical assistants are highly trained in electronic medical records (EMR) management and can easily handle records management so you can instead focus on offering your patients quality care.

5.       New patient intake

Virtual medical assistants can also handle the intake of new patients in the doctor’s practice. This includes confirming their financial and insurance details, and collecting their medical records for the doctor to consult.

6.       Logistical work

All your logistical work can be taken care of by hiring a virtual medical assistant. They will order all necessary supplies, ensure delivery, and do this on a regular basis.

Steps to Hire a Virtual Medical Assistant

1.       Find companies online

There are numerous companies that provide virtual medical assistant services online. Some such companies are Transmed, Virtual Gal Friday, Wishup, and Xilium. All of these have a large pool of highly trained virtual medical assistants that will be able to tend to all your administrative needs. This allows you to scale up the number of assistants according to your needs.

2.       Choose a company

Thoroughly research the services provided by these companies, including customer reviews. After narrowing down the list of companies, contact the short-listed companies to discuss what will be the best fit for your needs.

3.       Price comparison

Compare the prices of the various virtual medical assistant services on your budget. Also perform a comparison on the quality of services offered.

4.       Determine a clear list of tasks

Once you’ve selected a particular company, determine a clear list of tasks that you’d like your virtual medical assistant to provide. This ensures that there is no miscommunication of your needs, and allows the company to provide the best possible service for you. Organizing your requirements also helps you decide the level of support you require from your assistant.

5.       Plan the work ahead

After you hire your virtual medical assistant, spend some time discussing the work, routine, deadlines, and quality of output. This will help establish a successful working relationship with them, and allow you to focus on your own responsibilities without any worries.

Virtual Medical Assistant Job Description Samples

Here are two samples of how to write a job description for your virtual medical assistant. You can modify these according to exactly what you’re looking for.

Virtual Medical Assistant Job Description Sample 1

If you’re looking for a virtual medical assistant for a small, primary care practice, then here is a sample for you.

Job summary

I’m looking for a virtual medical assistant who can help me with the administrative tasks of my practice, like patient scheduling, EMR maintenance, and handling insurance claims. I require someone who can provide full-time support, and has prior administrative experience. A medical background will be a significant plus.

Roles and responsibilities

  • Calling patients to schedule appointments, as well as handling cancellations, reminders, and re-scheduling
  • Billing for the patients
  • Maintaining the accounts of the practice
  • Handling patient intake - taking medical history, financial details, insurance details
  • Contacting patients’ insurance provider to confirm their eligibility, and the plan-specific benefits they receive
  • Collecting insurance claims after treatment of patient
  • Follow-up calls to patient after treatment
  • Maintaining patient records using EMR software

Job requirements

  • Graduate or above
  • Prior administrative experience
  • Must have good internet access
  • Training in EMR software
  • Medical background (optional)

Virtual Medical Assistant Job Description Sample 2

If you’re a psychiatrist/psychologist in need of a virtual medical assistant, then here is a sample for you.

Job summary

I’m looking for a virtual medical assistant who can help me with the administrative tasks of my practice, like patient scheduling and billing. I require someone who is willing to work 6 days a week, and has prior experience as a virtual assistant. Strong interpersonal, and communication skills are also important.

Roles and responsibilities

  • Calling patients to schedule appointments, as well as handling cancellations, reminders, and re-scheduling
  • Billing for the patients
  • Maintaining the accounts of the practice
  • Follow-up calls to patient after treatment
  • Maintaining patient records using EMR software

Job requirements

  • Graduate or above
  • A minimum of 5 years of experience as an assistant/ virtual assistant
  • Good internet access
  • Fluent in English
  • Medical background not necessary

Benefits of Hiring a Virtual Medical Assistant

1.       Saves time

Hiring a virtual medical assistant will lead to more efficient utilization of time. It ensures that you don’t have to spend half the day engaging in routine, administrative tasks.

2.       Focus on treatment of patients

The time freed up by hiring a VA allows you to focus on the actual reason you became a doctor i.e. treatment of patients. Since you’ll no longer be preoccupied with routine tasks, all your attention can be directed towards the patient’s well-being. Not only does this improve the quality of care your patients receive, it also allows you to increase the number of patients you can treat.

3.       Specialized skills

Virtual medical assistants are specifically trained to handle the administrative needs of medical personnel. They are, therefore, likely to handle the work in a far more efficient manner than a regular assistant. They also have access to software that improves the quality of work, such as appointment management software, or new EMR software.  

4.       Cost-effective

Hiring a virtual medical assistant is extremely affordable. Regular full-time employees can be highly expensive, especially if you have a small practice. Not only are salaries higher, there are additional costs like the cost of office space, paid leave, and insurance. Hiring a virtual medical assistant reduces these costs significantly.

5.       No vacations or sick leaves

You do not need to provide your virtual medical assistant with any vacations or sick leaves. They will be there to assist you at all times.

6.       Can get started immediately

The virtual medical assistant you hire will be able to start working for you immediately. You do not need to spend any additional time training them. All you need to do is specify the exact tasks that you want them to handle, and then sit back and relax.

We’ve discussed a lot of advantages that hiring a virtual medical assistant will bring to your practice. However, there are many more benefits that you will realize once you actually go ahead and make the hire. This will require you to conduct thorough research into the company providing the service, and a clear list of requirements on your end. Most importantly, you will need to constantly communicate with your virtual medical assistant. This will ensure that you get the most out of your experience.

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