How to Hire a Virtual Assistant

May 02, 2024

You’ve been working hard and growing your business. Now you’ve got a full roster of clients, but your admin work is starting to cut into your personal time.

You know your clients need you to be relaxed and balanced so you can give them great care. And you know you need to stop burnout before it starts.

So you’ve decided to hire a virtual assistant.

Amazing, congratulations! A virtual assistant (also known as a VA) can free up time for the things you love, whether that’s seeing more clients or spending more time with friends. A VA can help you find more balance while still growing a practice you love.

How do you hire a virtual assistant?

So how do you start? How can you find someone who fits you and your practice to a tee? Like any front desk staff member, a virtual assistant will reflect you and your business, so they also need to match your professional style and needs.

Luckily, Dr. Julie Durnan, ND and CEO of Ginger Desk, a virtual assistant agency for wellness professionals, is an expert on the when, why, and how of hiring VAs.

Here’s what Dr. Julie has to say about hiring a virtual assistant. 

What does a virtual assistant do?

While you might think a VA only answers phone calls and emails, they can help you in more ways than that.

Julie says you can expect a VA to do everything a front desk person might do for practitioners, except greet patients in person. “I always joke and say, and we can’t do the laundry between consults,” she laughs.

Here are some of the administrative tasks a virtual assistant can do for you:

  • Keep up with your email
  • Check your voicemail and call people back
  • Organize your work schedule (and maybe even help plan your vacations)
  • Stay on top of invoicing and billing
  • Help with insurance preauthorizations or direct insurance billing
  • Manage your accounts receivable and collections 
  • Triage client messages and forward them to you

What to look for in a virtual assistant

So how do you choose the right VA for you? 

Julie says you should start by prioritizing VAs who have worked in a brick-and-mortar health clinic, ideally for at least three years. You might also want to look for people who have worked as an executive assistant or in a similar role that calls for highly autonomous administrative work. 

Your VA should be trained in HIPAA compliance — and your software

You’ll also want to look for a virtual assistant who’s comfortable with your EHR software. You already need to onboard your new VA to your personal systems, so you can save a lot of training if they’re already familiar with your software.

If they’re already handy with your preferred EHR, make sure they’re also trained in HIPAA compliance. It’s vital that they understand the need to maintain strict confidentiality and the secure handling of patient data. For example, Julie stresses that a virtual assistant should know they can’t download patient data to their laptop for any reason at all — that laptop could get stolen, and your patient’s personal health information would be exposed.

Next, you might want to consider where your VA lives.

A virtual assistant should be in your time zone

While a VA in another time zone might be cheaper than one that’s closer to you, location matters. Someone who works in the same time zone can support you best because they understand what’s going on in your part of the world — like tax changes, holidays, and current events.

A virtual assistant needs ongoing training and resources

You make sure you get the continuing education credits you need to keep your skills sharp. Dr. Julie says your VA should do the same.

If your VA comes from an agency like Ginger Desk, they can draw on resources and training their agency provides. They might have access to other VAs and experts, and they can talk to those people when questions arise or they need advice. With a whole team behind them, they’re better equipped to give you the support you deserve.

A virtual assistant success story

Contrary to what many practitioners think, VAs can actually save you money and time. Think of how you could reinvest those resources back into your business — or your personal life.

Julie likes to tell the story of Andrea, a naturopathic doctor who had always done her own admin work. She was on top of her paperwork, but she wanted to delegate new patient onboarding to a VA, because it was taking too much of her time. 

Andrea made more money after hiring a VA

It took some time for Andrea to shift her client onboarding duties to her VA, but after six weeks her VA was managing it all. And Andrea found she netted 50% more revenue that year, because her VA was able to clear up enough time for her to bring on new clients and focus on helping them.

How much does a virtual assistant cost?

Pricing for VA work can vary. For example, Ginger Desk offers packages for solo practitioners — who might just need help with client messages and scheduling calls — and for multi-practitioner clinics who have more complex administrative needs, like insurance preauthorizations. 

VA packages are often priced based on the volume of clients and the number of tasks the VA needs to perform. Julie says hiring a VA should cost around a quarter of what a practitioner might typically pay to train and manage their in-house team.

Focus more on what matters by hiring a VA

Hiring a VA may be one of the most important investments you can make in your practice. Delegating administrative tasks to someone who is well equipped to handle them can allow you to get back to spending more time with clients — or with family and friends.

As Julie says, the right virtual assistant can be the reliable, trustworthy person who can support your patients while you’re building your empire.

Happy building.

Subscribe to our newsletter for more expert tips on growing the practice of your dreams.

About Julie

Dr. Julie Durnan, ND, is a naturopathic doctor and the CEO of Ginger Desk. With over 20 years in the health and wellness industry, she has built two clinics from the ground up and mentored dozens of other practitioners. 

After discovering a gap in the market for health and wellness practitioners, Julie got to work building Ginger Desk. Now spanning across Canada and the United States and supporting hundreds of practitioners, Ginger Desk has proven itself as North America’s most trusted Virtual Assistant service for Health Practitioners. To inquire about hiring a Ginger Desk Virtual Assistant for your practice, book a Discovery Call.

Keep Exploring

The Dietitian’s Ultimate Guide to ICD-10 Codes

Published May 21, 2024

Imagine you’re shopping at a new grocery store. When you go to check out your weekly haul, the cashier doesn’t scan each item to tally…

A woman making a referral when she's marketing her clinic, seated at a table with a potential referrer.

How to Open a Clinic: Marketing Your Clinic for Acquisition and Retention

Published May 08, 2024

A picture of a woman writing SOAP notes on her desk in front of her laptop

Mastering SOAP Notes as a Health Professional

Published May 07, 2024

A clinic team gathered around smiling at each other.

How to Open a Clinic: Software, Logistics and Team Management

Published May 06, 2024