For many people, the term "online scheduling" often brings to mind frustrating and mistake-prone interactions with online software as they attempt to make an appointment with a healthcare provider. Plus, the software often sends them down a rabbit hole of confusing options if they have specific questions or different needs. This scenario can make patients lose interest and opt, instead, for a healthcare provider with a dedicated person handling appointment scheduling and other issues. Human interaction matters!
However, this doesn't mean you have to employ someone in the office to answer the phone. Effective online scheduling is still possible with the help of a virtual assistant. A virtual assistant for online scheduling can work from a remote location yet provide a dedicated service for your practice. This offers a way to provide your patients with a personal, human touch without the large costs involved in hiring someone full-time.
An online scheduling virtual assistant can schedule patient appointments using online applications and software for any medical setting. This includes clinics and single-provider medical practices. They can also help verify all the information submitted by the patient is accurate and contact the patient if there is additional information needed. In addition, they can work when you need them at an affordable rate.
Because the majority of patients work, many find it difficult to make appointments or to call their healthcare provider’s office for other issues during the day. An online scheduling virtual assistant, available 24/7, can effortlessly provide a solution to this problem. If you find that a lot of inquiries or appointments are coming in after office hours, a medical virtual assistant can work those hours at a very affordable rate to make sure you don't lose those patients. This lets patients talk to someone in-person to offer the solutions they need. This includes online scheduling of appointments or scheduling a callback time.
An online scheduling virtual assistant has two excellent skills any healthcare practice needs: the ability to organize and manage. Not only can they manage your online scheduling regarding your consultations with patients, but they can help manage your patient call-back times as well as other pressing commitments most healthcare professionals have to take care of.
Your virtual assistant can take care of appointment online scheduling using technology linked to your office. But they can also reschedule appointments when and if needed. This includes not only when patients call in, but also when you, as the healthcare provider, may need to have patients’ appointments changed due to a personal emergency. Furthermore, they are well-versed in calendar management. As a result, they can block off periods that you, as the healthcare provider, may need to make return calls or attend conferences, for example. They can also send out patient reminders through text messages, emails, or telephone.
Depending on the type of practice, you may find yourself with waiting lists of patients who want to see you. Due to the number of hours in the day, you cannot accommodate them all as you would like. A virtual assistant’s online scheduling abilities can help here. When people call to cancel or reschedule an appointment, a virtual assistant can go through your waiting list and contact people there to see whether they could fit into the open slot. This helps keep your time slots filled and ensures patient satisfaction as well. And as a healthcare provider, patient satisfaction increases your reputation.
While you may see most of your patients only once in a while, many need to come back to you on a regular basis due to the nature of their health issues. This implies the need for follow-up consultations. Your virtual assistant, through online scheduling, can manage these follow-ups, scheduling new appointments for these patients, while sending out reminders about them as well.
Patients, especially new ones, need to fill in various forms. These forms include assessment questionnaires and consent forms. Filling out these forms, unfortunately, takes time. Yet you usually have to factor this time in when setting up appointments. A virtual assistant can, through the online scheduling system, send out these forms electronically beforehand and collect them as well. This saves time and allows you, as the healthcare provider, to start assessing your patient’s condition even before you see them.
Although a healthcare provider, your practice is still a business. And like any business, client feedback, or in this case patient feedback, is important. If you know the areas in which your practice lacks, you can take measures to rectify the situation, improve the standard of care, and boost overall client satisfaction.
Your virtual assistant can send out a survey to each patient after a consultation if someone in your office has not already supplied them with the survey forms. They can also contact your patients afterward to collect these surveys regarding their experience at your practice.
At the end of the day, taking note of any criticism and acting on it improves your patient experience due to improved services and practices. It will also increase patient retention, patient engagement, and ultimately, clinical outcomes.
Different practices have different needs. Healthcare has no one-size-fits-all solution. The scope of work of a virtual assistant for online scheduling thus depends on your particular needs. You may only need someone to work after-hours and on weekends, for example. Or you may prefer to have this person’s scope of work increase as time goes by.
Another consideration to keep in mind is pricing. Does the cost of hiring a virtual assistant for online scheduling justify the hire? Please do not forget that the cost of hiring a virtual assistant is substantially less than hiring someone on a full-time basis who would need to sit in your office. Virtual assistants work remotely and are only compensated for the hours worked.
While there are many online scheduling companies out there, they tend to have a generic goal. Very few specifically focus on the healthcare industry. The best-trained hires are virtual assistants for online scheduling specifically geared toward the medical industry, from a reputable company dedicated to the healthcare industry. Their background and experience are more focused on healthcare, making these assistants a valuable addition to your team.
When choosing a company from which to hire your online scheduling assistant, do make sure that they cover all your specific needs. These include whether they cater to the medical field, whether their potential hires have the correct background and skills, and whether their payment options suit you.
Other factors to consider include whether their candidates have undergone HIPAA training, their working flexibility, and the type of contracts the company offers. Cool Blue VA, for example, does not expect you to sign a contract or pay setup fees. Services are billed on a bi-weekly basis.
Cool Blue VA also passionately believes in forging long-term relationships. As a result, you would work with the same person or persons consistently. Your virtual hire(s) essentially become part of your practice.
If you would like to know more about online scheduling and how we can help you with this time-consuming yet important task, please contact us today at 714-695-8000. We are more than willing to take the time to address your concerns and talk you through the hiring process.