The healthcare industry is a complex and demanding place to work, even more so when you’re self-employed.
A recent survey found that the average private practice owner spends around 52 hours per week at work. Despite working a staggering 51% more hours than the current national full-time average, many healthcare professionals struggle to keep up with the ever-increasing volume of patients and administrative tasks.
Sadly, many in this position find themselves reluctant to delegate tasks, worrying about data protection, patient confidentiality, and HIPAA compliance.
However, it's precisely these professionals who need to delegate the most.
According to experts, burnout affects healthcare professionals nearly twice as much as an average working adult. This is likely due to being trained to put the needs of others before themselves and spending each working day dealing with the emotional and physical strain of treating those who are sick or injured.
And when burnout can lead to such a wide range of negative impacts—such as absenteeism, decreased capacity to cope with stress, and a decline in working ability, it’s not just healthcare professionals that are affected by their burnout, it can seriously affect their patients and the quality of care they receive.
So as a healthcare professional, it’s essential to know exactly how a virtual assistant can help lighten your load so you can be the best you can be, both mentally and professionally.
Let's dive in!
What is a virtual assistant?
A virtual assistant, or VA, is an independent professional who supports their clients and their clients' companies from a remote location.
Similar to a traditional executive assistant or office manager, virtual assistants are usually hired to tackle routine daily tasks and administrative work that help a business run smoothly in the background, such as:
- Scheduling appointments
- Managing calendars
- Conducting online research
- Organizing and optimizing your to-do list
- Checking voicemails and returning phone calls
- Email marketing
- Booking travel arrangements
- Basic project management
- Organizing reports and documents
- Expenses and invoicing
Virtual assistants can help streamline workflows, increase productivity, and free up valuable time to focus on more critical or specialized work on your task list.
Not only that, but many business owners find that it's much more cost-effective to hire a virtual assistant due to the fact that you only pay for their productive time completing your work, as little or as much as you need.
Using the example that the average full-time employee is estimated to be productive for 2 hours and 58 minutes each day, what would set you back $140.16 to pay an experienced administrative assistant would only cost around $109.89 for the equivalent productive time with a virtual assistant.
What are the first steps to hiring a virtual assistant in the healthcare industry?
As we've mentioned, all the different processes and requirements of working in the healthcare industry compared to other small businesses can make hiring an extra set of hands seem like more hassle than it's worth.
But in reality, it may be simpler than you think.
We've found that there are just three key areas that often need to be covered for healthcare professionals to start working with virtual assistants.
This may require a little time and effort upfront, but the benefits of delegating tasks are well worth this initial investment.
While your first priority is to provide your patients with the best care possible, you also need to protect their privacy and data. This is also something we take very seriously here at Time etc.
Any virtual assistant wanting to work with us must pass a rigorous ten-stage application process, where we screen all potential candidates against disclosed convictions and bankruptcy and verify their name and address. Once they have successfully passed every stage of the process (which, on average, only 2% of applicants do), they are bound by strict confidentiality agreements and robust data protection measures when working with our clients.
Depending on your company, you may need to gain permission from those who are responsible for ethics or data protection before you start the process of hiring a virtual assistant.
And if you need that extra level of security, you may want to have your own NDA (non-disclosure agreement) in place.
With virtual assistant services like Time etc, for example, all virtual assistants are equipped with a minimum of five years of prior experience in a relevant professional setting, so it's not unusual for some VAs to already be HIPAA compliant.
Our expert team will work hard to pair you with the right virtual assistant that best fits your needs, so you can rest assured that any assistant that's put forward to work with you will already tick this box, or will be happy to train.
There are many advantages to working with virtual team members, and although they may not be physically present in your practice, you still need to make sure they have everything they need to do your tasks well.
Liaise with your IT or tech support contacts to set up any login details, grant permissions, and generally provide access to any platforms and systems your VA will need to use.
What are the best tasks to delegate to a virtual assistant?
While we at Time etc believe in reclaiming as much time and energy as possible to spend on what matters most, it's important to bear in mind that not all tasks are suitable to delegate to a virtual assistant. Mainly, any tasks which would involve offering a professional medical opinion should never be delegated.
But if a task doesn't require your specific expertise and could be completed by someone else if they were given the right instructions, you can be pretty sure a virtual assistant will be able to handle it.
To help get you started, here are some of the best tasks a healthcare professional should outsource to save the most time each week.
1. Scheduling and calendar management
The importance of a well-organized schedule can never be overstated—especially in the healthcare industry where the stakes are high and every minute counts.
One of the most common tasks that virtual assistants provide support for is calendar management. This could include anything from setting up patient appointments and sending reminders to tracking important deadlines. They can also coordinate with other healthcare professionals in your team to make sure everyone is on the same page and making the most of every minute.
Having a reliable extra set of hands to help with these key tasks can free up a lot of time and energy for you and your in-house team (who may already be stretched thin), and can help improve the overall patient experience by reducing wait times when booking their next appointment.
2. Billing and invoicing
To run a successful medical practice, you not only need to provide first-rate care to your patients, you also need to make sure you get paid for the services you provide.
But chances are, spending hours on medical billing, invoicing, expense tracking, and insurance verifications wasn't what drove you to run your own business. And the more time you spend on these tasks, the less time you have for your patients, or working on growing your practice.
In fact, recent research has found that business owners lose up to 20 days per year chasing late payments, so having an experienced VA to handle all these tedious tasks can be a real game-changer.
3. Data entry
Recent research from the American Medical Association revealed that physicians spend nearly two hours on data entry tasks for every one hour they spend with patients.
And if you're stressed, overworked, and at serious risk of burning out, you're much more likely to make errors or miss things when you're dealing with data. Even a simple oversight can have severe repercussions.
As well as helping to restore your mental energy with fewer administrative tasks on your plate, a virtual assistant can handle all those time-consuming data entry tasks that hold you back.
- Collecting and inputting patient demographic information such as their name, age, address, contact information, and insurance details into electronic medical records (EMR) systems or practice management software.
- Recording comprehensive medical histories, including past illnesses, surgeries, allergies, medications, and family medical history, into patient records.
- Inputting laboratory test results, imaging reports, or other diagnostic findings accurately into patient records or electronic databases.
- Entering medication details, dosage instructions, prescription dates, and refill information into the patient's electronic records or pharmacy systems.
- Collecting and entering research-related data, survey responses, clinical trial results, and other study-specific information into databases or spreadsheets for further analysis and reporting.
- Capturing patient feedback, satisfaction scores, and comments into survey platforms or patient experience management systems.
Accurate and complete data entry is crucial for maintaining reliable electronic medical records, facilitating efficient healthcare operations, ensuring accurate billing and reimbursement, supporting research efforts, and monitoring quality in healthcare delivery.
See: 5 Reasons Why You Need A Virtual Assistant For Data Entry
4. Document and file organization
From patient medical charts, insurance forms, and lab results, to financial records, referral letters, and personnel files, keeping up with all the paperwork in your practice can feel like an additional full-time job in itself.
Keeping these documents organized is an important responsibility, but instead of losing several hours each week doing this yourself, your virtual assistant can easily take this off your hands.
This way, you can focus on your most meaningful work without getting bogged down in admin.
5. Marketing tasks
Regardless of your industry, potential clients or patients may struggle to find you if you don't have an online presence.
But with so many other responsibilities constantly competing for your attention in your practice, finding the time to write a blog post or create engaging content on social media may be much easier said than done.
This is where virtual assistants come in extremely handy for small business owners.
As well as creating and scheduling posts on various social media platforms and replying to comments or messages, an experienced virtual assistant can help you with light graphic design work on Canva to create visual assets and marketing materials.
They can also help cover every step of the content-writing process, from researching topics to writing and publishing.
See: How A Virtual Assistant Can Help With Your Social Media
6. Inventory and supply management
The last thing you need when your workload is piling up or you're falling behind on your appointments is
A medical virtual assistant can track inventory data, including supplies, medications, and equipment, by entering information such as item details, quantities, expiration dates, and reordering thresholds into inventory management systems or spreadsheets. They can monitor stock levels, send reorder alerts, and coordinate with suppliers to help avoid frustrating shortages or overages in your practice.
7. Email management
A report published by McKinsey Global Institute in 2012 found that the average person spent 28% of their workday checking emails. Based on a typical eight-hour day, this equates to 2 hours and 14 minutes. Fast-forward to 2018, a survey by Adobe found that the average time spent checking work emails each day had increased to approximately 3 hours and 6 minutes.
And when over 100 billion emails are exchanged every day but only around 14% are critically important, that's a significant amount of time being sunk with very little return. On the other hand, think about what you could achieve with 15 reclaimed hours in your schedule each week.
A virtual assistant can stop you from being a slave to your inbox while making sure that nothing falls through the cracks. They can keep your inbox tidy and free of junk, organize messages based on importance, and respond to routine inquiries on your behalf, if necessary.
What's the bottom line?
Many healthcare providers are overwhelmed with the amount of administrative tasks they need to accomplish in a day. These tasks may be incredibly important for keeping the wheels of your practice turning, but how many of them actually need to be done by you?
This is why virtual assistants are such a valuable asset to any healthcare practice. They can help with everything from appointment scheduling and social media management to data entry and customer service. By taking some of the tedious and time-consuming administrative tasks off your plate, you can focus on providing quality care to your patients.
If you want to take back control of your time and resources with the help of a medical virtual assistant, speak to our expert team to get started. We’ll set you up with a dedicated professional based on the skills and experience you need.
Or try us out for free today!