Should You Become a Virtual Dental Assistant?
Your alarm clock sounds. You wake up, look at the time and realize you have to be at work in 10 minutes. You smile and think, “No problem.” Why? Because you’re working as a virtual dental assistant. You stroll into the room next door, still dressed in your Spongebob Squarepants pajamas, and simply log on to your computer. Voila, you’re at work. If this sounds intriguing, you might want to consider a virtual job.
Virtual dental assistants provides office support services from an offsite location — typically at home, but it could be any other site separate from the dental office. They keep in touch with the dentist (as well as patients and insurance personnel) via technology like the telephone, Internet, email and fax machines, and they often use software that allows them to access the dental office’s computer directly, as if they were sitting at the front desk.
Because of the remote location, virtual workers aren’t able to perform the clinical duties that conventional dental assistants can, but they can still manage a wide range of administrative tasks, including:
- Answering incoming calls, including rerouting emergency care if the dentist is unavailable
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Sending and receiving emails
- Billing and collections
- Preparing paperwork/record keeping
- Acquiring dental histories
- Insurance verifications
- Insurance submissions and negotiations
- Managing blogs and online social media accounts
- Editing newsletters
Because of the clerical nature of working remotely, virtual dental assistants should hone their phone skills, their understanding of billing and collection, their knowledge of software and their attention to detail.
So, we know why someone would want to be a virtual assistant (jammies and limited hygiene requirements), but why would a dentist want to hire one? There are a number of reasons, such as:
- They perform some of the more dreaded and time-intensive tasks — such as collections, haggling with insurance companies and patient acquisition calls — which dentists and their office staff might not have the time or patience for, allowing them to focus on patients.
- They can answer phones during off hours, providing greater customer service.
- Since they are contractors and not employees of the dentist office, dentists don’t have to pay for payroll taxes, vacations or healthcare.
- They save the dentist money by not taking up space and resources (computer, phone, desk, etc.) in the office.
- They can work on collections that would otherwise be written off; it’s like found money.
Finding a job as a virtual dental assistant can be as simple as looking through job postings online, or you could approach one of the growing number of employment firms specializing in virtual job placement. It’s the 21st century, after all.
(Sources: Dr. Ron and MB’s Dental Management Resource Center, JillCoonInc.com, Dental Support Specialties, WebDental)