The employment field for medical assistants is growing much faster than average, which makes this field among the fastest growing careers in this decade. The healthcare industry continues to grow at a rapid rate and more doctors need to hire medical assistants. As an assistant, you can work from a remote location, accessing the physician's office via its Intranet network and perform different duties as assigned by the physician.
A virtual medical assistant is a healthcare service provider who performs administrative and clinical tasks, supporting doctors and other practitioners in the healthcare industry from a remote location. They normally perform routine tasks like retrieving and updating records, verifying prescriptions, receiving inbound calls, and providing writing and data entry duties. Assistants may also be required to make calls to patients and other professionals who work with the doctor. One should not confuse the term medical assistant with physician assistant who perform advanced therapeutic, clinical and surgical procedures.
Employers will hire you to handle calls from patients with emergency issues so calls do not go unanswered or held for a long time, which is common after clinic working hours. These delays are not only frustrating, but also fatal to the healthcare industry. To avert this problem, a doctor may have you answer the phone after hours, and notify the doctor of any emergencies. You will send out important messages to the doctor, and communicate with patients by phone, instant chat or e-mail. Doctors know that patients always appreciate having someone answer their calls at all times. This is also one way to avert the emergency room since the patient will get the necessary help when needed. You also help with administrative tasks like maintaining digital records, and reminding patients when they need to refill their medications or when they have an upcoming appointment.
You can get professional training from a vocational college, or from an online college offering virtual courses. This job requires more than a high school diploma. Although formal training is not mandatory, you need some form of training and accreditation to ensure you can find a job more easily. You may find some situations where the employer requires you to train onsite for a few weeks before you can work from home. The other skill that you need is good communication skills since you will be dealing with needy patients.
Confidentiality is another critical characteristic of a medical assistant. Having the right credentials will enable you to climb upwards in the career more easily. You can specialize in particular area like ophthalmology. You must learn medical terminologies and educate yourself to interpret medical writing. Often times, you will work for online pharmacies which dispense medications that patients purchase via the Internet, and the company will require you to assist the patient.
You can earn an average of $31,000 annually; however, if you are earning per the hour this could earn from $25 to $45 per hour, depending on the job complexity, experience, and expertise.
Physicians, hospitals, and pharmacists hire medical assistants to help them with the daily operation of their businesses. You can also get a job with an agency that hires on behalf of the employer. However, this may pay you less than working for the employer directly.
You can find jobs in classified listings and by registering with staffing agencies. You can also register with freelancing websites, where potential employers often go to look for skilled staff; however, you have to remain alert and apply for a job as soon as it appears.
Working as a virtual medical assistant requires you to offer accurate clinical advice in the absence of the doctor, by answering patients' calls. This is an ideal way to help the patients avert the emergency room, which often happens in the absence of medical advice. You will answer calls, run the physician's automated call center, filter urgent and non-urgent calls, forward urgent messages to the physician, and call back patients in a timely manner. You will also be required to do basic medical data entry, and dispense medication remotely via the internet.