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How Virtual Assistants Can Help Doctors

By Townes Haas   |    November 30, 2015   |    9:28 AM

Doctors are busy people, but virtual assistants can help them manage schedules and to help them focus more of their time on the patient. With changing mobile technologies, less support staff, different healthcare and insurance models, and changing rules for medical records, even the most experienced doctor can feel lost in a crowd. Here are some of the ways that virtual assistants can help doctors modernize and be more efficient.

Answering the phones. For medical offices, simply answering the phone is an essential function of intake and scheduling. Answering the phones in a medical office can easily be shifted to a virtual assistant who will politely greet the patient, take down personal details and contact information, and schedule appointments in the calendar of a doctor or nurse. For more complex questions about healthcare issues or billing, a virtual assistant can also easily transfer the patient to the office that is most appropriate.

Taking Up the Slack. In a rather dire warning, the Association of American Medical Colleges has revealed that by 2020, there will be a shortage of more than 90,000 doctors in the U.S. Those numbers become even more troubling in light of an aging population that includes more than 65 million baby boomers, increased life expectancy, and more patient visits. Virtual assistants can help take up some of this burden by adding more complex tasks to their menu of services.

Schedule Smart. Another consideration for doctors is when to schedule work. Ideally, a doctor may engage virtual assistants during office hours for scheduling, patient follow-up, prescription delivery or insurance verifications. But virtual assistants are available at all hours of the day and night. This means that a smart medical office can shift after-hours work such as transcription and billing to hours that don’t impact the work of delivering medical services to patients during the day. Many doctors’ offices actually end up with a fusion of these two models, getting the best of both worlds.

The Benefits Are Clear. According to a recent survey of U.S. doctors by a highly regarded technology company, the majority of respondents believed that virtual assistants could make them more efficient and give them more time to spend with patients. Respondents also noted that virtual assistants could provide more accurate and timely information to support care, improve health care and patient engagement, and prompt patients to adhere to health advice and healthy behaviors.

Virtual assistants are better in many ways than in-house employees. They don’t require a desk, chairs, benefits or the other support structures that cost physicians lots of overhead. Virtual assistant providers have a qualified pool of trained and knowledgeable virtual assistants to ensure that calls are being answered and support functions like billing and coding are being performed. For doctors who have limited resources to hire personal staff or have the vision and foresight to streamline their offices, virtual assistants provide major benefits for far less cost than traditional staff.