How Healthcare Virtual Assistants Can Help Grow Your Business

July 12, 2022

As your business grows, it can be tougher and tougher to keep up with the daily admin tasks and operations, but sometimes hiring a full-time employee like a receptionist or marketing assistant just isn’t in the cards. Enter the virtual assistant. Virtual assistants have become steadily more popular over the last few years for some very important reasons: they allow business owners such as dietitians, nutritionists, and health coaches to outsource affordable batches of work to a trusted third party.

On the part of the Virtual Assistant (VA), the job empowers people to freelance and work remotely. The possibilities are plenty but hiring your first VA can be intimidating. You don’t want to waste your investment working with someone who isn’t the right fit. So how exactly can VAs help build your health and wellness business? Where can you find a reliable virtual assistant? And most importantly, what can they do to help your healthcare practice run better than ever? Here, we’ll help you explore the different options and possibilities to see whether this might be the next step in growing your business.  

What is a Virtual Assistant?

A low-cost, high flexibility solution, virtual assistants provide support services to a business from a remote location. Typically part-time contractors, virtual administrative assistants can handle a lot of the responsibilities that in-office assistants normally take care of, like organizing emails and travel, managing the practice’s social media account, customer service, simple data entry, creative design, and so much more. There are also specialized virtual assistants you can contract to meet a range of specific needs within your practice.   

Do You Need a Healthcare Virtual Assistant?

Before you begin the time-consuming search for the right candidate, you should ask yourself if you really need one in the first place. Though they can be extremely helpful, healthcare virtual assistants are really only useful if you need one on a regular basis to help run your practice. 

There are a couple of pieces of conventional business wisdom to keep in mind when deciding whether or not to outsource some of your tasks:

  1. You find yourself doing tasks over and over again that you can’t automate (we’re big advocates for automation where possible) and that you can easily teach to someone else.
  2. You are comfortable with a task being done 80% as well as you could do it yourself. Many business owners advocate for outsourcing or delegating when this is the case.

Virtual assistants are also helpful for big projects, like helping you set up a virtual online program. For projects like this specific one, you’ll need someone who either knows your software set-up or can learn it quickly. Some virtual assistants have specific experience with specific types and brands of software, whether it’s software for electronic health records or social media scheduling.

If you’re constantly finding that you don’t have enough hours in the day to run things the way you want to, then getting a virtual assistant would definitely be a wise investment.

What Can a Virtual Assistant do for Your Practice?

With a virtual assistant for nutritional therapy practices by your side, you’ll be free to work on the higher-level tasks you need to take business even further. Plus, with your newfound time and a fresh set of eyes, you’ll be able to see what’s working and what’s not. Best of all, you’ll be able to improve efficiencies and enhance your practice all around. 

The Different Types of Virtual Assistants

Feel like you have the admin tasks under control but could use a little help in the social media department? There’s a VA for that. Have social media under control but need some website design, development, and maintenance help? There’s a VA for that, too. In fact, there are all kinds of VAs for all kinds of different tasks. Here are some of the most popular in the healthcare industry.  

Administrative Virtual Assistants

By far the most common, this type of VA handles all kinds of administrative tasks, like data entry, email organization, callbacks, billing (when you can’t automate it), and setting up meetings. They’re best for handling tasks that require little to no special training, so you can feel confident to j give them the jobs to complete. 

Social Media Virtual Assistants

From writing social media posts to creating engaging content to helping you extend your reach, social media VAs are well-versed in managing all of the leading platforms. They’re also great for keeping a watchful eye on your competitors, responding to comments and messages on your behalf, and tracking performance. 

Customer Service Virtual Assistants

When it comes to customer service, it’s about one thing: providing a positive experience for the client. This type of VA manages client communications in all ways, shapes, and forms. The difference is instead of communicating face-to-face, they communicate through emails, online chats, and phone calls instead.  

Graphic Design Virtual Assistants

Need some help putting a website together? Or revamping what you already have? A graphic design VA can help with everything from web design to mocking up reports and presentations. In this case, you can price your services on a per project basis or if you have ongoing design needs, you can hire them on a monthly retainer for a set amount. 

Financial Virtual Assistants

Bookkeepers might be the original virtual assistants! Many business owners trust their books to a trained professional who manages your revenues and expenses, typically in a software. A financial VA keeps track of all of your business transactions and ensures it’s all entered into your bookkeeping system, and can prepare your books to hand off to your accountant come tax-time. They can also ensure your bills are paid on time! A financial assistant can save you time–from having to do it all yourself–and money–from having your accountant charge you for chasing down your receipts.

How Can You Use a Virtual Assistant to Build Your Business?

Much like Practice Better, the beauty of a virtual assistant is that they can empower you to focus more on building your business, rather than getting caught up in everyday tasks. Aside from regular administrative work, they can also help you enrich your offerings so you can give your clients more, including:

  • Webinar set-up
  • Online course research and development 
  • Website design, copy, development, and maintenance
  • Social media management
  • Blogs and other content marketing 
  • Presentations and reports
  • Lead generation
  • Database management
  • Public event support

What You Should Know About Virtual Assistants and Healthcare

Can virtual assistants be used in a healthcare setting without violating HIPAA or are they a HIPAA violation waiting to happen? Remote medical assistants aren’t exempt from following HIPAA rules just because they’re working for someone in a regulated healthcare profession. It’s in your best interest to define all remote employee guidelines and ensure all signed documents involving remote work are up-to-date, signed, and safely stored. 

Keep in mind, for regulated professionals, you may have access to certain controlled acts that you must perform yourself, or delegate to certain individuals only. Please check with your regulatory college and legal counsel for details on these more complex situations. 

Does Virtual Assistant Technology Exist?

Unfortunately, there’s no Siri or Alexa in the healthcare industry. While artificial intelligence and automation have come a long way, some tasks done by virtual assistants can’t be completely automated. First of all, you need someone to set up the automations in the first place, and that can be outsourced to a knowledgeable assistant, but many tasks within a nutrition practice still need to be done by a human. 

Today’s Practice management software platforms come about as close as you can get to virtual assistant technology with the ability to automate tasks, like billing and payment, sending intake forms, and appointment reminder emails. However, as many successful practice owners can attest, sometimes, you just need some human support. 

Ready to Hire a Virtual Assistant?

As we mentioned earlier, most virtual assistants are general administrative specialists, while the others support in a specific area. However, having a virtual assistant requires some careful consideration. So, before you jump in and hire one, you need to ask yourself these important questions:

1. Do I really need a virtual assistant, or just a better system?

Just because you’re busy, doesn’t necessarily mean you need an assistant. You may just need a better system to organize your admin tasks. The key is to increase efficiency while keeping costs down. If you can manage it on your own with a little reconfiguring, it’s best not to add the extra expense. However, if you’ve tweaked your systems, done the math, and have the money to afford the expense, you can start looking knowing that by delegating some of your work, you free yourself up to work on your next big initiative to grow your practice.

2. How will having a Virtual Assistant help your nutrition therapy (or other wellness) practice?

Keep in mind that a virtual assistant is still an expense, meaning they account for some of your operating costs. Will you be getting a good enough return on investment having them as part of the team? Will having a VA help your business grow? Will they work on things that will move your practice forward, or allow you to do so? All important questions to ask yourself.

3. How will I communicate with my virtual assistant?

As you know, communication is the key to success in any relationship. That’s why it’s incredibly important that you have a system in place to help with task tracking and project management. It ensures that everyone is on the same page at all times. The beauty of VA work is that it’s remote, so if your VA is in a different time zone and is making phone calls, both of you will have to take the time difference into account.Some assistants use email to communicate, while others may text or use specific messaging or product management software. Others may take your lead and go with what you prefer, and if that’s the case you’ll need to be clear up-front on communication.

4. What type of commitment am I expecting?

How much work do you need help with? Do you need a virtual assistant full-time or just part-time? Figuring out what kind of time commitment you need will not only help you narrow the pool of prospects, it’ll help ensure you’re only paying for what you need. Most VAs have a limited roster of clients and charge minimums to protect their time investment in your business, so while you’re searching for the right VA, take stock of what sort of tasks they’ll be taking over and how much time they take. As experts in their field, they might even be able to work extremely quickly and thoroughly.

5. What is my (business’s) personality type?

This one may not sound as relevant but consider which personality type you are and what kind of person you would get along with. Do you have a more chill personality and you’re looking for a Type A to keep you on track? Or, are you more of a Type A who’s after a more laid-back person to work with? Choose a VA that complements you best, or someone who you feel represents your business’s values. If this person is communicating with clients for you, ensure you know what they’re like on the phone or on chat/email. You may want them to be peppy and bright, or you may want them to be no-nonsense and hold a firm boundary on your behalf, and you need the right person for that particular job.

How to Find a Virtual Assistant for Your Nutrition Therapy Practice

Once you determine where you need the most help, you can start your search for prospective candidates for whatever field you’re in—from dietetics to health coaching and any other health and wellness category in between. You could search through reputable companies that provide virtual assistants. The benefit there is that they do all the vetting, background checks, and more so you don’t have to. We see many practitioners and professionals consult their networks as well, asking colleagues in similar situations who they’ve hired. When you’ve found someone, vet them well, and don’t be afraid to ask for references. 

Final Thoughts

When it comes right down to it, your time is money. And as a successful health and wellness professional, you have to make sure you spend your time wisely. Using Practice Better along with a virtual assistant can help relieve you of the menial daily tasks and free you up to focus on what really matters: growing your business and making your clients even happier.  

To find out other ways to make a greater impact with your clients, build a better brand, and grow your business, check out our other helpful blogs here and here

Practice Better is the complete practice management platform for nutritionists, dietitians, and wellness professionals. Streamline your practice and begin your 14-day free trial today.

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