All the Benefits of Medical Office In-House Staff with a Virtual Assistant
In this episode, Barbara and Danielle discuss:
- The role of a virtual assistant in a medical office.
- What a VA can do and how they can be HIPAA compliant.
- Questions to ask when looking for a Virtual Assistant.
- Many virtual assistants are hired as part-time, if you are looking for quick responsiveness and turn times, you may consider looking only for full-time virtual assistants.
- There is HIPAA certifications that can be received by virtual assistants.
- Know the difference between wanting a virtual assistant and hiring one – you need to be prepared monetarily as well as being prepared to let go.
“[Hiring a virtual assistant] is a very flexible and on-demand option.” — Danielle Cuomo
Barbara: Welcome to another episode of Marketing Tips for Doctors. This is your host, Dr. Barbara Hales. Today, we have with us Danielle Cuomo.
Danielle is the owner of Virtual Assistant USA, a company that provides all the benefits of an in-house staff and support team without all the cost that an employee would require. For the past 12 years, her company has been supporting healthcare providers in augmenting their team when they need additional help. Welcome to the show, Danielle.
Danielle: Thank you very much for having me.
Barbara: Danielle, what is the role that a virtual assistant can play for a medical office?
Danielle: Well, a virtual assistant can help a medical office or a healthcare provider in a number of ways. We can basically handle the business or operational, administrative end of things so that the practitioner can focus on practicing. So we can help with any administrative tasks, back-office tasks. We have clients that will use their virtual assistants for things like helping with referrals, authorizations, EMR management, any type of medical billing, insurance verifications, appointments, pretty much anything that the doctor doesn’t need to do themselves.
Barbara: Where does HIPAA compliance come into play?
Danielle: Well, HIPAA compliance is something that is really important for all of our clients that are in the healthcare space. We are the only HIPAA compliant virtual assistant. All of my team members are certified in HIPAA compliance as well as our system is HIPAA compliant. So obviously, that privacy and protection is very important for our clients in the healthcare space and it’s something that we take very seriously.
Barbara: Well, that is so important and kudos to you for getting that. Having the function of being one of the only companies that is HIPAA compliant is really very impressive.
Danielle: Thank you very much. Yeah, we’ve taken the courses, the certification in HIPAA privacy, security and confidentiality, the omnibus role, the enforcement roles. And when we work with a client who is in healthcare, we operate under a BAA or a business associate agreement as well.
Barbara: Tell me, how do I go about hiring a virtual assistant?
Danielle: Well, if you want to hire a virtual assistant, a really great place to start of course is referrals so if there’s anybody that you would know in the healthcare space that has used a virtual assistant. We get a lot of our business through referrals and I think it’s a great way to kind of have a leg up and a foot in the door with knowing someone. Additionally, you can always do an online search. There are a number of websites that are third party independent providers that will provide reviews as well.
Barbara: When I consider using a virtual assistant, what types of things would I want to ask for or what criteria would I be looking for?
Danielle: Great question. So one of the things that I think is important is knowing how long the provider has been in business. This industry in general is something that has a very low barrier to entry and so there can be a lot of newcomers in the space. And I’ve seen them sort of go out as quickly as they’ve come in. So I think it’s important to know how long someone has been in business.
Making sure that they’re a steady provider is an important thing. Another good question to ask of course in addition to if they’re HIPAA compliant, but another great question to ask is about their staff. So you want to know how much experience the staff has, how long they’ve been working as a virtual assistant and particularly how long they’ve been working with healthcare providers is another important area. And what we’d like to ask as well is how their staff is structured. So do they hire their staff as employees? Are they using freelancers or part-timers? That’s something that’s really important.
We only hire our VAs for full-time employees. The reason that we do that is because it provides more responsiveness, faster turnaround times, that sort of thing. And so if that’s something that’s important to you, that would be definitely something to look out for as well.
Barbara: Is there some type of certification or special training that a VA gets so that we know that they have experience in healthcare?
Danielle: Yes. So there is a HIPAA certification in that you take a course and subsequently a test to be certified. That’s something that you would know that they are familiar with all of the data privacy and security provisions for safeguarding that medical information and ensuring that they’re handling everything confidentially. So the HIPAA certification is very important. Aside from that, if you’re using your virtual assistant for any number of specialized tasks such as medical billing or coding, of course, you would want to know that they have specialized certifications or training in that. Same thing for other various areas too if you’re looking at using your virtual assistant for help with any marketing or social media that you’re going to do. And that can be very sensitive particularly in the healthcare industry. So that would be another question to ask as well.
Barbara: Where do your virtual assistants come from? Are they from all over the country? Or are they located near where your company exists?
Danielle: My virtual assistants are all located across the United States. We operate exclusively in the US. And we have virtual assistants in every time zone because we have clients in every time zone and so that helps us to be able to provide services everywhere.
Barbara: What tips would you give the average doctor who is considering a VA but since they have no experience in that didn’t know whether a VA would be for them?
Danielle: Great question. I think a lot of physicians and healthcare providers would certainly need a virtual assistant. I think that many healthcare providers that I talk to they find themselves spending a lot more time on admin than they do working in their practice seeing patients. They are really passionate about healthcare and providing healthcare but they don’t have necessarily that excitement or zest for the operational side of the business. So I think a lot of folks will need a virtual assistant. But I would say as far as advice is knowing the difference between needing a virtual assistant and being ready to hire one. There’s a big distinction there.
When you’re ready to hire a virtual assistant, you would want to make sure of course that your practice is generating enough revenue so that you could start with a virtual assistant. You certainly don’t want to be hiring someone and that’s going to put a strain on your cash flow. You would also have to be ready to let go even a little bit. But you would have to be ready to give up on the need to have sort of your hand in every little detail of the business and operational side of it.
You would want to be able to know that you would be able to trust someone and work with someone to know that they’re taking care of things for you and that you’re in good hands there. And then finally, I would say that you would have to have processes in place or be willing to make those processes.
A good virtual assistant will help you develop standard operating procedures, processes for doing things if you don’t already have them. But you do have to be willing to at least have them and make sure that the integrity of your practice is protected and followed in that way.
Barbara: Well, that’s a really good point.
Danielle: Thank you.
Barbara: How would our listeners get in touch with you to learn more or find out how they could hire virtual assistants that work under you?
Danielle: They could visit my website. It’s virtualassist.com. And they would get in touch with me directly through the website. We have several ways. They could either send an email, give me a call, send me a text message. There’s a chat feature on the website. So we have a number of different ways to get in touch with me. But they could just visit virtualassist.com. And if they mention that they participated in your podcast, we’d be happy to give them a couple of free hours as well. So it would be important for them to mention that.
Barbara: Oh, well, that’s a really great gift. Thank you for your generosity.
Danielle: You’re very welcome. I’m happy to support the healthcare providers especially in these interesting times that we’re in.
Barbara: Yes. They certainly are. And because of that, you know, cash really is a scarcity with office hours down even if you are doing telehealth. So I think a company like yours is just what the doctor ordered.
Danielle: Yes, yes. It’s a very flexible and on-demand option. So a lot of folks are choosing that over traditional employment because of the flexibility and affordability that it offers.
Barbara: Well, thank you so much for being on our show. I really enjoyed talking with you today.
Danielle: Thank you very much for having me. It was a great opportunity.
Barbara: This is another episode of Marketing Tips for Doctors with your host, Dr. Barbara Hales. Until next time.
Connect with Danielle Cuomo:
Facebook: Virtual Assist USA
Get 2 free hours of a VA by mentioning this podcast at VirtualAssistUSA.com
Connect with Barbara Hales:
Show website: www.MarketingTipsForDoctors.com