It can be difficult for a medical practice to balance streamlined operations and excellent patient care. A virtual front desk receptionist is a popular solution for medical practices—merging the cost-effectiveness and convenience of modern technology with the personal touch that is vital in healthcare. Fortunately, using a live virtual receptionist allows practices to ensure that every patient interaction is handled with the highest level of care and professionalism from beginning to end.
Of course, strong customer service and satisfaction are only two positive aspects. Another significant advantage of a virtual front desk receptionist is that it is more cost-effective than an in-house receptionist. In general, medical practices can allocate resources more efficiently without the need for an employee in the office and the associated overheads. Additional benefits include scalability—which means practices can easily adjust the level of support in response to patient call volume—and 24/7 availability, among many others.
It’s clear that virtual receptionists have many advantages, but what exactly are they, and what do they do in the medical field? In this article, we’ll explore questions like: “What does a front desk receptionist do in a medical office?” and “How much does it cost to have a virtual front desk receptionist?” We’ll also talk about setting up your virtual receptionist services so you can start reaping the benefits immediately!
What Is a Virtual Medical Receptionist?
A live virtual medical receptionist is a third-party professional who performs administrative duties remotely—rather than in a physical medical office like an in-house receptionist. As the name suggests, most of a medical front desk receptionist’s communication with patients happens virtually (i.e., over the phone or through live chat)—including setting appointments, handling inquiries, and maintaining records. This is particularly helpful when patients are unable to come into the clinic.
Plus, having a virtual receptionist ensures that clients’ inquiries and other administrative needs are always handled professionally and sensitively. This delicate approach is especially important in a medical office, where laws and regulations like HIPAA are essential for patient safety and discretion.
What Is the Difference Between Virtual Assistant and Virtual Receptionist for Medical Practices?
The roles of medical virtual receptionists and virtual assistants—often viewed as interchangeable—have distinct responsibilities and operational impacts on medical practices. So, what services do virtual receptionists offer? And, ultimately, what are the contrasts between virtual receptionists and assistants? In general, there are several important differences between the two:
- Customer Interaction: While virtual assistants usually provide more direct support to in-office staff and healthcare practitioners and seldom interact with patients, for a medical office, virtual receptionists frequently serve as the initial point of contact for patients, taking calls and responding to live chats.
- Duties: Virtual receptionists handle billing, appointments, and other patient-facing interactions—they also take calls and respond to messages. However, virtual assistants are mostly used for internal tasks such as checking and responding to emails, as well as organizing conference calls and organizing business trips.
- Handling of Sensitive Information: Even though many tasks can be performed remotely by virtual receptionists and assistants, the privacy and security of a virtual receptionist’s services—like taking medical information—is paramount, given the sensitive nature of medical information.
- Working Hours: While virtual assistants usually work during standard business hours and can coordinate with their company, virtual receptionists are available to help with medical services for their patients 24/7—especially when they need it the most.
- Services: Medical practices are increasingly looking to hire virtual front desk receptionists who have completed extensive training in the healthcare industry. This is especially important for duties like patient scheduling, answering questions about treatment, and insurance verification—all of which require familiarity with medical terminology and the office’s day-to-day operations. On the other hand, a virtual assistant can handle a wider range of administrative duties unrelated to patients (like internal meetings and other business tasks).
Simply put, virtual receptionists complete all the patient-facing administrative tasks, where it’s important to be knowledgeable and helpful to anyone who calls in. Virtual assistants, on the other hand, are solely responsible for internal duties and don’t generally interact with patients. With virtual medical receptionist services, like those offered by Berkshire Receptionists, your medical practice can set appointments, take payments, and answer patients’ questions for all customers right away.
What Does a Virtual Receptionist Do in the Medical Field?
A virtual receptionist is one of the most important components for businesses to connect with and help their customers—and it’s no different for healthcare providers. Because a virtual receptionist can do all of the duties of an in-house receptionist—plus other benefits like 24/7 availability—your clients will feel secure knowing that your practice is available to help in any way they need. So, what exactly does a virtual receptionist do? Their tasks include:
- Managing incoming calls, which includes providing patient information, triaging urgency, and detailing services.
- Organizing and coordinating medical professionals’ schedules to ensure efficient appointment booking and adjustments.
- Updating and managing patients’ electronic health records, processing new patient forms, and maintaining compliance with privacy laws like HIPAA.
- Demonstrating a high level of accuracy, discretion, and knowledge in medical terminology and procedures to support healthcare operations remotely.
As the main point of contact, medical front desk virtual receptionists help with patient needs and general administrative health care support—making them an essential member of your team. While their industry-specific knowledge ensures that each interaction with patients is handled professionally, what’s most important is showing dedication to providing patients with the best possible care. With a virtual receptionist, like those at Berkshire Receptionists, your practice will have better customer service and retention of patients who trust your practice and those who help over the phone.
How Does a Virtual Receptionist Work for Medical Offices? How Do You Hire One?
Choosing a virtual receptionist provider is important for businesses seeking help answering phones and other administrative tasks. One great benefit of selecting a provider is adding a customer service expert to the team. Their success is partly because of their understanding of your medical office’s and patients’ unique requirements.
After choosing the best virtual medical receptionist provider for your practice, the rest of the onboarding process involves integrating systems and ensuring that the recipient has the resources to meet your practice’s needs. Here are a few steps to consider when considering a receptionist:
- Assessment and Planning: Your medical practice should determine which administrative tasks are necessary to best help your patients over the phone or through live chat. By assessing factors like call volume, appointment scheduling, and management of patient information, among other duties, you can define your goals and decide which services are most important to provide.
- Researching Providers: Different virtual receptionist service providers offer a range of experience, training, compatibility with electronic health systems, and compatibility with medical privacy laws like HIPAA. Your office should consider all of these factors when deciding which virtual receptionist service is best for your practice.
- Selecting a Service: After deciding on a virtual receptionist provider, different options to meet your needs will be outlined—such as the number of minutes you expect your medical office to use. Then, you can begin creating a service level agreement (SLA) outlining the requirements for the virtual receptionist service to meet.
- Integration and Onboarding: When you decide on a service, they’ll partner with your medical practice to integrate your various technological systems. To do this, the office might be required to take extra steps to ensure that all data is handled in accordance with privacy requirements. For example, providing secure access to the scheduling software and electronic health records.
- Training and Customization: The virtual receptionist provider you choose will educate their staff on the processes and protocols unique to your healthcare practice. This is to familiarize themselves with your office’s procedures, industry jargon, and administrative software your business uses. Ultimately, this preparation is to provide an individualized and customized service that fits your business’s needs.
- Testing and Refining: To ensure the virtual receptionist can do the necessary duties, many providers have a trial period to ensure it’s the right fit for your practice. During this time, your medical office can provide feedback for revisions to the script or other policies.
- Go Live: After a successful trial period, the virtual receptionist service of your medical practice will handle all incoming calls and other administrative tasks.
- Ongoing Support and Evaluation: In order to make sure that the level of service continues to be high-quality—and to adapt as your medical office’s demands change—regular check-ins and performance reviews are essential. This will make sure your business’s needs are met despite not having a receptionist in-house.
After following these steps, your medical office will see a huge shift in your customer service and a more organized and efficient office. Plus, you can save a lot of time and money over an in-house receptionist.
How Much Does Virtual Front Desk Cost in the Medical Field?
Believe it or not, a virtual receptionist is only a fraction of the cost of a full-time in-house receptionist. With providers like Berkshire Receptionists, you can get a monthly plan for as low as $40. In comparison, according to ZipRecruiter, medical receptionists make an average of $39,000 a year. That’s over $3,000 monthly, not including benefits and other overhead costs, like PTO.
The main factor in determining how much a virtual front desk receptionist costs is typically based on per-minute or per-call volume. At Berkshire Receptionists, our plans are priced per minute every month:
- Starter Plan: If your practice has a low call volume, our Starter Plan is $40 monthly, plus $1.89 per minute. With this plan, you’ll receive all of the benefits of a virtual receptionist, including 24/7 service and bilingual receptionists.
- Small Business Plan: If you have a higher call volume (or want services such as after-hours support), our Small Business Plan is available for $180 a month for 100 minutes, plus $1.79 for each additional minute. Some of the additional benefits include a Follow Me number, as well as personalized greetings, and custom hold music.
- Pro Plan: Our best value plan is the Pro Plan, at $350 a month for 200 minutes and $1.74 per additional minute. With this plan, you’ll have an online client portal and dedicated account manager available.
- Enterprise Plan: The Enterprise Plan is the most comprehensive plan at $850 a month, plus $1.69 per additional minute. With the Enterprise Plan, you’ll get benefits like disaster recovery and usage reports.
As you can see, the cost of a virtual receptionist—even for the most comprehensive plan—is significantly more affordable than an in-house receptionist. With no long-term contract and omnichannel support, save time and money with Berkshire Receptionists today!
Do I Need a Virtual Receptionist for My Medical Practice?
While every medical office is different, having a dedicated employee for all your administrative duties—including being the main point of contact for patients—is essential. With a virtual receptionist, you’ll find that it is more cost-effective and that you and your in-house employees can focus more on essential business operations.