Virtual Administrative Assistant – Part 1
Ever wonder if you’ve needed a dental virtual administrative assistant (which I will refer to as a virtual assistant from here on forward)? Not even sure what they do? Well please allow me to shed some light on the subject.
I want to share with you not only what they do, but if the services would be a fit for your practice, and how to maximize the relationship, which can make you more profitable. In Part I we discuss what some of the tell-take signs might be and how to determine whether you should explore this for your office. Part II is how to maximize what your virtual assistant has to offer and how this partnership can make you more profitable.
How do you know if you need a virtual assistant? There is no magic formula. In a growing practice you generally need 1 front office/patient coordinator for every 25 new patients per month. Now, this is under the assumption that your accounts receivables are all current and you hardly have any outstanding recalls or treatment plans. Please continue if this describes you.
Let’s start off with the services of a virtual assistant (may vary depending on the service you use):
- Post payments with necessary adjustments
- Send claims and attach necessary documentation electronically
- Manage denials, appeals and claims needing narratives
- Verify benefits and eligibility
- Follow up on outstanding claims
- Sends statements
- A/R management (calling patients, sending statements) – essentially acting as your billing department
- Answer phones on lunch break
- Treatment plan follow up
These services can be done remotely, or you may run across a service that offers training for your entire team and on-site coaching. All services are usually à la carte and a company or individual can create a contract to your specific needs.
Now that you know the what, here are some of the whys:
- Your front office team members don’t have designated administrative time during which you have no patients or incoming calls.
- You are afraid to look at your accounts and insurance receivables because you know they are not good. For example, your 90+ days is more than your 30-89 days period.
- You’ve lost more than a couple patients over insurance discrepancies or “billing” errors.
- There is no time for the office to make out-going calls to work on outstanding recalls and treatment plans.
- Statements don’t go out on a regular basis and you don’t use a collection agency.
- The front office team is reluctant to share practice metrics with you when you ask for them (they may be frustrated they can’t get to it or in worse cases, they are hiding something). It’s important to remember not to scold the front office team. This is a great opportunity to communicate with them and find out their needs.
- There is a large amount of credit balances – this could be due to posting errors or not understanding insurance adjustments.
- You are a brand-new practice and having trouble with managing insurance or NP calls.
- You already know you need one, you just need to take the plunge!
This is not a conclusive list and even if you are not sure, most virtual assisting companies will offer a complimentary call to assess your needs. Down the road they can also offer constructive feedback on where your practice can really fill in some gaps with training. Not only am I currently doing some virtual administrative assisting, I’ve worked with many over the years. A good company can address your concerns about PHI, how the assistants are trained and what they need from you for a successful transition. I’d recommend reaching out to Dental Practice Enhancement to start. Good luck!