Moving certain staff positions offsite can improve the efficiency of your practice. To make this work, you need to have the right technology set up. For example, our office uses an online technology called Team Viewer, which costs about $35 per month, to access office computers from a remote location. We are also planning to implement a new technology called network-attached storage (NAS), which acts like a virtual computer and allows offsite employees to access and work with computers located in our physical office space.
Positions that don’t require direct patient interaction can be moved offsite, which can help streamline workflow and allow more focus on patient care.
Successful Move to Remote Work for Billing Specialist
A few months before the pandemic, our office decided to move our billing specialist to a remote location. This is because their job can be done at any time and from anywhere. We gave the billing specialist one of our spare office computers, so they could easily access the office computer from home. Soon, we plan to use a technology called network-attached storage (NAS), which will allow the billing specialist to connect to the office computer from their personal device.
The move to a remote location has not impacted our patients in any negative way. They still receive the same level of service and have no idea that the billing specialist is working from home. In fact, the change has been a huge success in terms of efficiency. The billing specialist is now able to focus solely on each patient’s call without any distractions from others. As a result, their work has become faster and more accurate, leading to a 25% increase in efficiency.
Additionally, with the cost savings realized from the improved efficiency, we were able to offer a raise to our high-performing billing specialist. The only challenge we encountered was that our billing specialist needed to come to the office once a month to print out monthly statements, but she doesn’t mind doing so in the evening when the office is empty.
Expanding Remote Work with a Virtual Receptionist
Our clinic recently decided to expand on the success of our billing specialist working from home by moving our receptionist to a remote location. A few years ago, we moved our telephones to a separate office, so we were already used to not having phones ringing on the main floor.
We used a virtual assistant company, My Mountain Mover, to hire a receptionist from the Philippines. This allowed us to answer phones and keep the office running while we looked for a better phone system. However, we discovered that some phones couldn’t dial into the US and stopped using the company.
We eventually choose virtual assistants as our phone system, which allowed us to access calls from multiple locations, including our receptionist’s home. Our former virtual assistant was with us for about three months, and then we had the chance to rehire a former employee who had moved to another city. Our receptionist uses a computer at her house to operate the NAS/virtual computer, and she can log in to the same computer as the billing specialist.
Our patients appreciate the lack of distractions when they call in. In the past, there were often side conversations and background noise on recorded phone calls, but this is no longer an issue. Our receptionist has only been working in this position for a few weeks, but she’s already doing more work in less time because she’s free from office distractions. Her duties include answering calls and scheduling appointments, and we plan to track no-show rates to measure her efficiency. With only one person in charge of answering phones and scheduling appointments, there’s now better accountability.
Moving Insurance Coordination to a Remote Location
In our office, we have two important positions that help make sure patients understand their insurance benefits. The insurance coordinator is responsible for checking what insurance plans cover vision and medical treatments. The patient coordinator, who greets patients and collects insurance information during appointments, provides the necessary information to the virtual assistant.
Before a patient has their exam, the patient coordinator will have a short talk with them about what their insurance will cover and what they’ll have to pay out-of-pocket. This helps us be more transparent about costs and reduce any surprises for patients when their appointment is finished.
Even though the insurance coordinator helps provide information to patients, they don’t have direct patient interactions. This position could potentially be done from a remote location, and we plan to have it done from home by the end of the first quarter of 2022.
To make this work, we need to invest in a new scanning technology. This way, when the patient coordinator scans a patient’s insurance card, the information will show up on the insurance coordinator’s screen at home. We’re still looking into which technology and software will work best, and once we find what we need, we’ll train the insurance coordinator on how to use it from home.
The Virtual Assistant and insurance coordinator need to be able to communicate effectively, so we just started using a work communication platform called Slack. Right now, we’re using the free version, but we may need to upgrade to a more advanced version that costs around $70 a month to make sure our patients’ experiences aren’t affected by the remote position.