Physicians, owners, and managers juggle many areas within their practice. Every day they alleviate pain, comfort patients and sometimes even handle emergencies. This is part and parcel of caring for and attending to their patients.
A practice manager works with a team to provide good care for their patients but rising workforce costs, inflexible staffing, and high overhead are challenges to the practice’s success. Virtual Medical Assistants (VMAs) are an option to integrate into your team and provide you with greater profits and a surprising level of professionalism.
What is a VMA? A VMA has
- knowledge of the healthcare industry and small practices
- the administrative skills of an assistant, and
- skills in computer and modern industry software and systems
What are the advantages of having a VMA?
- Time saved – Physicians invest a lot of effort so they understand both the medical and emotional aspects of their patients. To operate a practice requires both great patient care and operational excellence. It can be overwhelming for a practitioner to handle all of these. Having a managed and supported assistant frees you up for your priority – the patient.
- Cost-efficient – Hiring from an outsourcing company means you have none of the commitment, overhead or regulatory burden. You get supervision, support, and a team to help solve problems. You can add or remove staff as you feel best fits your business.
What are the skills to expect from a competent VMA?
- HIPAA compliant – An assistant is only as good as her training, auditing, and reviews. HIPAA training needs to be comprehensive and recent..
- Phone handling – The majority of practices use the phone as the lifeblood of their practice. Your assistant handles patient inquiries and concerns. They need to be eloquent, well-educated and able to understand and be understood by your patient’s regional accent.
- Appointment scheduling – Your schedule should be managed your way. Exception handling and easy communication will improve your booking and keep your practice running smoothly.
- EMR management – It seems like there are hundreds of EMR systems. Practices often have faxes and other older records that may require migration. To adapt and change an assistant should be technically competent and flexibly handle new systems that you wish to put in place. They should also be a good collaborator to provide you feedback on both positive and negatives of any new system you are considering.
- Administrative and back office support – VMAs are trained to be technical and importantly provided ongoing education in technical tools. They are also supported by IT professionals who know medical software and cloud-based systems as well as IP phones and other systems.
- Insurance verification – One of the more common high-value tasks is for a VMA to pre-verify insurance coverage. Having patience, perseverance and a calm nature is important to consistently and quickly get this information
- Patient empathy – A VMA is often the first line of communication with patients who may be under emotional or physical distress. Having an understanding and knowledgeable person is important to patient satisfaction.
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