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The virtual workplace was almost unheard of until COVID-19 broke out. Now, telecommuting, remote work, or work from home (WFH) is synonymous with the “new normal.” Following the state-wide lockdowns and stay-at-home orders, many companies implement their business continuity plans that include sending a number of their workforce to work from home. While a majority of the US workforce just started WFH, a small group of workers are and have been faring better remotely even before COVID.

Virtual medical assistants (VMA) belong to this unconventional workforce. They augment the short-staffed healthcare industry by carrying out practice specific tasks virtually, and even more in the new normal.

VMAs Have Always Been Ready

Technology has allowed remote work productivity and efficiency, more so now that tech companies are the enablers of COVID era’s digital workforce. However, not all jobs are compatible and not all workers are comfortable with the WFH setup even with the sophisticated framework and tools available. Its sustainability relies on good internet connectivity, equipment, and space or the environment where remote staff will be working. These are made more difficult by the abrupt changes where employers and staff were only given short notice.

VMAs have been working remotely all their days and have proven that this setup could work. They saw and seized the opportunity technology offered and took it to their advantage so they can work optimally and comfortably. Service providers invested in stable internet connection. Some office-based companies even went beyond establishing a secure IT infrastructure. They have a ready remote or WFH workspace so work disruptions are likely to occur and practitioners can cut costs as there’s no need for a stipend.

Remote Setup According to US Standards

Virtual assistants working in the healthcare space can’t just work anywhere. Office-based VAs may have an edge as they use company-owned equipment that is likely to be configured with US-standard encryption and in a workplace designed to protect patient data. There are service provider companies that lend their equipment to WFH staff and have a WFH policy in place to minimize the risks. Handling PHI and storing it electronically is susceptible to hacking and cases of past data breaches serve as a lesson, and home-based VMAs are up for a challenge to replicate the office level of protection.

VMAs’ Fresh Value

Working remotely — whether on-shore or off-shore — VMAs have little to no chance of having close physical contact with patients and other staff. This makes them a safer alternative to minimize exposure and crowding in the clinic. VMAs have the necessary skills to be productive and efficient and are well-versed in telecommuting technologies like videoconferencing platforms and other tools. With this, they can recommend fitting tools and educate other staff by providing walkthroughs on each feature.

Their physical absence in the hospital or clinic allows for workflow continuity and minimizes potential workplace transmission during the pandemic. Remote work has been around and has proven itself efficient even before the COVID crisis. Post-pandemic, we see a future of more companies and employees sticking to the remote setup as is it is the only way forward.

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Abigail Sabido

Abigail Sabido

Abigail enjoys reading and writing essays and news articles as well as poetry and short stories. Prior to joining Xilium, she was a language and humanities teacher with a passion for literature, the visual arts, and music. Her best and most endearing students are, and always will be, her children.
Abigail Sabido

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