In 2022, there isn’t a part of our lives that hasn’t been reshaped by technology. Technology has made the world more connected and convenient, from the transition to remote work to ordering groceries and cars online.
The healthcare industry is no exception. From virtual doctor visits to electronic health records that give providers access to medical files with the click of a mouse, technology is helping patients receive better care, experience fewer medical mistakes, and get the care they need more efficiently than ever before.
The next wave of tech-centered healthcare to overhaul the medical industry is already here: virtual medical assistants. A virtual medical assistant is a remote employee who can handle any number of tasks in a physician’s office, including:
- Taking notes during patient appointments
- Updating electronic health records
- Booking and confirming patient appointments
- Answering phone calls and taking messages
- Processing insurance claims
- Pre-authorizing medical procedures
- Responding to online inquiries from your website or social media
A virtual medical assistant taps into your office remotely
Virtual medical assistants work remotely via a suite of software that allows them to access the physician’s office computer network, phones, and files. A virtual medical assistant can do almost anything an in-house employee can do, but for a much lower cost.
Here are 4 ways virtual medical assistants are overhauling the healthcare industry
1. They prevent doctor burnout
Between the labor shortage that still lingers after the Covid-19 pandemic and the ever-increasing demands on doctors to raise profits by taking more and more patients, doctors are burning out.
For smaller practices, juggling a growing patient load along with the administrative tasks of operating a small healthcare practice — updating electronic health records, transcribing notes, making appointments, fielding patient phone calls, and all the other things doctors must jump in to do when their offices are understaffed — doctors are taking on more than ever. It’s taking a toll on their well-being.
This isn’t just a problem for the physicians. When a physician suffers from burnout, their capabilities are hindered by the excessive stress, exhaustion, and cognitive difficulties associated with the condition. This can lead to negative consequences for patients such as decreased patient safety, lower quality of care, and medical mistakes.
Virtual medical assistants can lessen doctors’ workloads by taking on many of the administrative and tedious tasks that take up doctors’ valuable time, such as transcribing notes, updating EMRs, making appointments, communicating with patients, and more. This not only frees up the doctor’s schedule, leading to more free time and less stress, but it allows physicians to focus their energies on what they do best — providing excellent patient care.
2. Virtual medical assistants erase the need for local staffing
In some areas of the country, hiring high-quality medical staff is nearly impossible. There either aren’t trained workers available or the ones that are available are prohibitively expensive, especially for smaller or new practices.
A virtual medical assistant can work anywhere there is a reliable internet connection. This means that clinics in rural areas, underserved communities, low-income areas, and expensive metro areas can have access to highly trained medical staff that they wouldn’t have otherwise. For patients and practices in “healthcare deserts,” where access to healthcare is not easy to come by, the ability to hire high-quality help can be a lifesaver.
3. They make opening small practices more affordable
Opening a private practice is a dream for many physicians, but it’s not an easy task. Equipment, staffing, leasing, and insurance are enormously expensive. Small clinics that serve even smaller communities provide a priceless service, but the hurdles a physician must jump to open a clinic of their own are often too high to manage, and those dreams of owning a practice are left on the shelf.
Hiring a virtual medical assistant — or several — to staff a new office makes the process easier and more palatable on two fronts. One, staffing costs are significantly lower with remote virtual medical assistants than with in-person staff. Whereas in-person staff will be paid a higher wage, plus benefits, plus the cost of workers’ comp insurance, a virtual medical assistant typically works for a flat rate of about the average hourly minimum wage for your state. This greatly reduces the expense of opening and fully staffing a new medical practice.
Also, since virtual assistants work remotely, new practice owners don’t need as much expensive office space. Physicians are able to lease or buy smaller spaces because many, if not all, members of their staff do not physically work in the office itself.
4. Virtual medical assistants improve customer service for patients
Patients’ most common complaints about their medical providers are rarely about the providers themselves. Instead, the most oft-uttered complaints about healthcare practices tend along the lines of customer service — namely, that it’s too difficult to get in to see the doctor and that phone calls and messages aren’t returned properly.
Virtual medical assistants can eliminate or greatly reduce both of these common complaints. Every virtual medical assistant added to a clinic’s staff means one more pair of hands to answer phones, return calls, book appointments, and provide the prompt customer care that people need — especially people who are not feeling well.
Also, having virtual medical assistants on staff takes many tedious tasks off the doctor’s plate, opening up his or her schedule to see more patients in the same amount of office hours. When patients can get in to see the doctor more quickly, they tend to be much more satisfied with the practice as a whole.
Want to know more about how a virtual medical assistant could reshape your practice?
MedVa provides high-quality, intensely trained virtual medical assistants to healthcare practices all over the country, and we’d be happy to answer all your questions. To schedule a call, click the button at the top of this page.