This is a guest post by our friends at Ginger Desk.
Whether you are a solo practitioner running a virtual practice or you run a whole team of clinicians in a brick and mortar clinic, a virtual administrative department or office is something critical to consider. When set up correctly and with intention, a virtual office can impact your team, profit, and patients in a hugely positive way. Read on below as we dive into the strategy, considerations, and specific administrative steps you need to consider to set up your remote dream office.
1. Leadership and Values
When launching a new office or reorganizing systems, most people skip right to setup. However, the most important thing to get clear on before launching your online office is your own leadership and business values. Poor clarity on these important considerations will result in team dynamic problems and client retention issues becoming magnified and unruly.
As Ruth Bader Ginsberg said: “Fight for the things you care about. But do it in a way that will lead others to join you.” Go after what you want, work for it, speak about it, live it out, and make it easy for people to be inspired by your cause and your ethics so they align with you and support it too.
To ensure you’re working with the right people and your people know they’re working with the right business, ensure your top 3-5 core values are crystal clear. This is critical for any practice - whether solo or multi-practitioner. What’s important to you? Write it down, let it be known, and share it with everyone you work with.
2. Client Experience
Delivering value to patients in a virtual setting is a significant concern for some practitioners. Let’s remember, your virtual assistant is a human on the other end of the phone or the email. Patients love connecting with your practice, they love the attention and they want a fast response time. It doesn’t matter to them that this person isn’t sitting in your office, as they just want the support.
Another key point to remember is that your patients are as busy or busier than you. They don’t have 72 hours to wait for a response. They want their answer and their booking, now. Which a VA can assist with.
Having a VA can invoke trust and showcase the level of professionalism that the patient can expect to receive. Having an assistant already reflects your priorities to the patient, assuring them they’re going to obtain top-quality care. The ability to provide patient support between consults is another reason that your client experience is a step above in-person support.
3. Regulatory Considerations
This aspect is crucial for your virtual office, whether it’s virtual or brick-and-mortar. As you work with licensed healthcare providers, it's essential to navigate varying regulatory requirements across provinces, states, and different specialties like Functional Doctors, Physiotherapists, Dietitians, and Nutritionists. Ensure compliance with your college guidelines and local laws to have the right support team.
For instance, in the US, practitioners may sign a Business Associate Agreement (BAA) to ensure complete HIPAA compliance, while Canadian requirements differ. Your administrative staff must also understand your scope of practice, including prescription privileges and telemedicine consultations.
When enlisting virtual support, be mindful of privacy regulations like PIPEDA and HIPAA. Obtain patient consent for communication methods, and implement stringent security measures to protect sensitive information from breaches. By diligently managing regulatory aspects, you can confidently launch your online office and provide secure and compliant support to your patients.
Communication is an extremely important one to consider. And often the piece that most people find surprising when they hire their first VA. 94% of problems in a business are systems driven. Only 6% of problems are people-driven.
Have you noticed that communication breakdown is often the root cause of many workplace complaints?
Working with a virtual team requires more intentional communication. It needs to be on purpose and it needs to be scheduled. This means meeting your VA weekly for an alignment call to go over the week’s goals and expectations and any obstacles in their way.
I know you may be thinking: “What about the water cooler talk, the hallway in integrative clinics? Dispensary talk? We need more team gatherings, lunches, and parties!” And guess what? These can all be done virtually! It just needs to be organized in advance.
Key points to consider for communication with your virtual team:
- Frequency - Your team members want to hear from you and they want your feedback. You might do a 1:1 weekly. Just ensure that you have a schedule. If you don’t meet with them, how will they know which way to support you?
- Managing expectations - Write them out and tell your team members what the communication expectations are.
- Communication platform - There’s a huge variety of options to choose from. You can use text, email, phone, chat platforms, or video calls.
- Walking meetings - Consider connecting with your VA over the phone while you both engage with nature and get your steps in. This way everyone benefits!
Creating a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) on how to run your clinic will help you and your VA exponentially. This manual can save you SO much time and money down the road. If you and your VA take the time to outline each and every system in your office, from new patient booking workflow to dealing with patient complaints, you will have the most efficient office possible. By documenting everything you do, you’ll build a self-running machine that you can step away from and enjoy your life!
By addressing these five key considerations while partnering with a virtual assistant company like Ginger Desk, you can successfully create a virtual office that is efficient, client-centered, and aligned with your professional values. This approach will not only enhance your practice’s productivity but also contribute to a rewarding and balanced work-life experience.
If you have questions about hiring a virtual assistant for your healthcare clinic, we would love to answer any questions you may have on a complimentary discovery call!