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[00:00:00] Dr. Sharp: Hello, everyone. Welcome to The Testing Psychologist podcast, the podcast where we talk all about the business and practice of psychological and neuropsychological assessment. I’m your host, Dr. Jeremy Sharp, licensed psychologist, group practice owner, and private practice coach.

Hey, everyone. We are talking again this week about virtual assistance. If you didn’t catch the episode from last week on when you need a virtual assistant, I would definitely recommend you go back and check that out because today, I’m talking all about actual tasks that you can delegate to a virtual assistant that won’t be too much of an emotional conflict for you, by which I mean, we have trouble letting go of the important aspects of our practice and these tasks while important, of course, are not going to be those huge tasks, like say, letting someone else answer the phone that can be really hard for [00:01:00] practice owners to delegate. So, I’ve got five pretty simple, straightforward tasks that directly pertain to testing that can easily be delegated to a VA.

Now, before we jump into the episode, I wanted to remind you again, I’m co-hosting a webinar two weeks from now, or co-presenting rather, with Dr. Ryan Matchullis, who is a psychologist in Canada. We’re going to be talking all about remote assessment with kids. I’m particularly excited about Ryan’s piece of the presentation because he’ll be talking all about remote assessment with, particularly challenging kids. I know that this is relevant for a lot of us, especially some of the school psychologists out there as school gets started and we might be doing more assessment with challenging kids. The link to sign up will be in the show notes. So make [00:02:00] sure and check that out. If you’re an iTunes, you should be able to click the link directly from the episode’s description.  And I hope to see you there.

I’ll also let you know about The Advanced Practice Mastermind, which will be starting in September. I’m currently screening folks and scheduling phone chats for anyone who might be interested. This is a group coaching experience with 6 other psychologists in the advanced stages of practice. We’re talking all about leveling up, hiring, additional income streams, streamlining your time, all those things that advanced practice owners tend to wrestle with. So check that out, thetestingpsychologist.com/advanced will get you where you need to go.

Okay, let’s talk about tasks you can delegate to a VA.

[00:03:00] Okay, y’all, here we are back talking all about tasks that you can delegate to a virtual assistant. So like the previous business episodes,  this one’s going to be relatively short and hopefully digestible. There are lots of links in the show notes. I’ll go ahead and throw that out there here in the beginning, two books, resources, VA companies, and different things that can help you on your journey to finding an assistant.

Okay. So let’s jump in. Top five things that you can delegate to a virtual assistant in a testing practice in no particular order, though. I suppose I’ll try to start at the beginning of the client journey and go from there.

The first thing that you can outsource [00:04:00] that takes up quite a bit of our time is checking insurance benefits. If you are an insurance-based practice, you know that billing insurance for testing can be a little complicated, and determining whether clients have coverage for testing can be a little complicated as well. Now, most of the time, at least with our panels, it tends to follow the mental health benefits. Sometimes it follows the medical benefits and sometimes it is totally separate for some reason and it has a different set of benefits. So having a VA check insurance benefits for clients is an easily delegatable task that will save you quite a bit of time.

So let’s assume on the short end, checking insurance benefits for a client only takes about five minutes per client. You log into say Availity [00:05:00] or another insurance portal, you put in the client information, you scroll through the benefits and it appears to all make sense and you get a good sense right off the bat of what kind of coverage they’re going to have for testing. That’s great. So maybe five minutes per client. If you are seeing, let’s just say, eight evaluations a month, that’s about 40 minutes, maybe 45 minutes that this could save you.

If however, things are complicated or there is no online portal or the benefits are hard to read or confusing, or misleading, then you have to jump on the phone. And most of the time when we jump on the phone, that is going to be maybe a 10-minute conversation to sort through and find someone who is able to answer your questions accurately. You want to of course get a reference number. So now maybe we’re up to 10 minutes apiece, which is about [00:06:00] an hour and a half over the course of a month.

So this is something that you can write out a very quick script and really define clearly what a VA would need to ask about. It typically takes a couple of iterations to really dial it in and train someone, but once it’s done, you are good to go. So number one, checking insurance benefits.

Number two, sending out intake emails and paperwork. This is super easy for a VA to do. All they need to do is look in your EHR and determine when your intakes are happening and you can set out a timeframe and agree with them on when you would like the intake email sent out and that’s about it.

You can, of course, draft the template for the email. Maybe you have one already. You [00:07:00] should have one already. I hope that you are not writing your intake emails from scratch every single time. If you are, that’s a great place to use a tool like TextExpander or simply use the templates function in Gmail or another email provider to streamline that process a little bit.

So what we do in our practice is, we send intake emails two weeks ahead of the intake appointment. And that email also includes our paperwork to fill out. So for us, all of this happens through IntakeQ. We wrote an email template. It attaches the right paperwork and we’re good to go.

So this is again, an easy thing to train a VA on. And if you think about it, this maybe saves you about, let’s just say 5 to 10 minutes per client as well. So now we’re [00:08:00] up to somewhere around an hour and a half to two hours a month, just from training a VA to do those two tasks.

Next on the list is emailing online questionnaires. So these days, we’re administering all of our questionnaires online, the BASC, the BRIEF, ABAS, SRS, any behavioral checklist is going out online.

Now a lot of you probably know that at least as far as we found it impossible to only send checklists from one source. So we’re going into a few different portals. Typically, that would result in sending 2, 3, 4 separate emails to parents to fill out each of these [00:09:00] questionnaires. Now, there are a few things wrong with this.

And this is a side tip if you’re emailing online questionnaires. What we have found is that it works a lot better if you go to each of these disparate portals, and instead of sending the link for each individual questionnaire to the parent, you send all the links to yourself or to a VA, for example, and then that individual aggregates all of the individual links into one email so that the parent or the teacher or the other reporter only gets one email with 2, 3, 4 different links rather than them having to track down three or four separate emails. Because inevitably what we found is that, especially ones from Q-global were getting lost in the spam folder. If you send two questionnaires from the same [00:10:00] platform, the emails nest behind each other, and parents think that it’s just a repeat and so they don’t fill out the second one. So, aggregating all of those questionnaire links has been really helpful.

Now, the tricky part is it that takes an additional amount of time. So that adds probably 10 extra minutes per evaluation to go through that whole process on top of the 10 minutes that it takes to actually sign the client up and get them into the portals and assign the right questionnaires to them. So in this case, a VA could save you anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes per client to send them to send out online questionnaires. Again, the only training involved would be defining which portals [00:11:00] correspond to which questionnaires.

And then, what I did was I just made a video showing each of the portals, walking through the whole process, then walking through the process of aggregating the links into a single email. That video ended up being about 10 minutes long. And I sent that to my admin staff and now they know how to do it. So, training is fairly minimal. And then all you have to do is specify using task management software like Asana or Trello or Todoist. There are tons that you could use and you just assign the questionnaires and specify where they need to go and your job is done.

So again, 10 to 20 minutes per client, just for your online questionnaires. All of a sudden now, if we’re operating on this eight evaluation a month schedule, we are up to another hour and a half, [00:12:00] maybe even maybe two hours over the course of the month. So now we are saving somewhere in the neighborhood of 3 to 4 hours by assigning these tasks to a VA.

All right. So let’s move on to task number four. So task number four is scoring the questionnaires and saving them to the client file. So, this is another really easy thing to do. In most of the online questionnaire platforms, it really just involves clicking on the client name and clicking on a button that says run report or generate report or score now, something like that.

So, you can set it up in most of these portals where it will send a notification email to the email address that you specify letting that person know when a [00:13:00] questionnaire is completed. So a trap that I got into is, when I originally signed up for these portals, I put my email address instead of a general practice email. And you can always go in and change it. But you can tweak that so that the notification of completion emails go to your assistant and then they know to jump in there, score each questionnaire and again, save them to the client file that is hopefully residing in some sort of cloud-based system, like a G Suite or OneDrive or some other HIPAA compliant storage system.

So that’s a pretty labor unintense task. Training is pretty low as long as they have the logins for each of those portals, which they would if they are sending the questionnaires. So they just jumped in there and score them. So this maybe saves you, I don’t know, 10 minutes per client, let’s say. So [00:14:00] that tacks on another hour, maybe an hour and a half. So now again, we’re up around 4 to 5 hours a month that are being saved just by having this VA.

So the last thing that I want to talk about that a VA can do fairly easily is ordering testing materials. So this is something that I’ve found as just has been the bane of my existence because I never check things in a timely manner or notice when we’re running low. And I always end up ordering at the last minute and hoping it’ll go through. And we all know that depending on who you’re ordering from, that might happen quickly, it might happen less quickly.

Once we delegated the ordering of testing materials, things got a lot smoother. So we have a big spreadsheet with all of the item numbers or SKU numbers for the materials that we order, both paper and digital. And on that spreadsheet, [00:15:00] it also says what the minimum number we need to maintain is, so essentially, how many do we have left that will trigger a reorder. And we also specify where you need to order each of those materials. So what website.

Once you have put that together, then you just have to agree on a set schedule. We do a once-a-week check to make sure that our inventory is high enough and if it’s not, then the admin staff will order testing materials. So again, this saves you, gosh, depending on the size of the order and what you’re doing, that could easily be 10 to 15 minutes a week, which doesn’t sound like much, honestly, but if you think back to my episode about time blocking and that idea of attention residue, this is just another one of those [00:16:00] little tasks that:

1) Is distracting and wrecks your focus and concentration when you’re trying to do important work.

2) It is just one of those tasks that you absolutely do not need to be doing. It’s a rote task that is easily trained and is not something that you are getting paid to do at all.

So if we go back and total up our time, a VA is going to be saving us somewhere around let’s say six hours a month just from these five simple tasks. So 5 to 6 hours a month. Let’s assume that your time is worth $100 an hour. You can do that math pretty easily, that you could feasibly be spending $500 a month on a VA and it would pay for [00:17:00] itself in the time that it gave back to you.

So, that’s just the way to wrap your mind around it and think about it. I hear a lot of folks saying, I can’t afford a VA, or I don’t know where to get started or what would we do with them. And I hope that this has broken it down just a little bit more clearly in terms of just some easy tasks that you could delegate like tomorrow if you spent an hour or so putting together some training materials.

So, I hope this is helpful. I’m a big fan of assistance, of course. And like I said, there are several resources in the show notes in terms of where you might find virtual assistance and how to work with virtual assistants. And I should say too, this doesn’t just apply to virtual assistants. You can certainly train an in-house admin person, which would be cheaper and it involves a little bit more work in terms of the employment [00:18:00] piece in setting up a contract or a W2 situation, but it can apply to any assistant that you would like to bring on in your practice. And again, these are low emotional investment tasks that you should be able to trust and delegate to someone fairly easily.

Okay, y’all, thank you for checking out this little mini-episode or rather mini-series on virtual assistance. There is a lot to be said about VAs. I have two other podcasts about VAs, one with Uriah Guilford from The Productive Therapist and one way back with Jaime Jay from Bottleneck Virtual Assistants.

There are many other tasks that you could delegate to a VA as well. I just picked the top five that I think would give you a pretty good bang for your buck and are easiest to delegate. So hope you’re thinking about that.

And like [00:19:00] I said at the beginning, if you are interested in a group coaching experience for advanced practice psychologists, you can go to thetestingpsychologist.com/advanced, get some information about the group and get on the list to do a call to see if it would be a good fit.

Also in our show notes, I’ll have that link to sign up for the webinar on remote assessment. This will be in August co-sponsored by Build Great Teams and the Psychologists’ Association of Alberta, Canada talking about remote assessment with complex kids. So lots of resources over the coming weeks.

As always, thank you for listening. If you haven’t rated the podcast and subscribed to the podcast, I would invite you to consider both of those and be ever so grateful for both of them as well.

Okay, y’all, [00:20:00] we are heading into the last part of the summer. School is going to be getting started soon in some form or fashion. We just got our announcement this week and we’ll be home with our kids a lot, at least for the first, first few weeks. So hope all of y’all are hanging in there. I may be able to take a little break or get out of town before things get chaotic again in the fall. I’ll be back next week with an episode on Monday with Dr. Bridget Rivera on clinician identity and layers of culture and how they come into our assessment process. So stay tuned for that as well.

All right. Take care of y’all. Until next time.

[00:21:00] The information contained in this podcast and on The Testing Psychologists website are intended for informational and educational purposes only. Nothing in this podcast or on the website is intended to be a substitute for professional, psychological, psychiatric, or medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please note that no doctor-patient relationship is formed here, and similarly, no supervisory or consultative relationship is formed between the host or guests of this podcast and listeners of this podcast. If you need the qualified advice of any mental health practitioner or medical provider, please seek one in your area. Similarly, if you need supervision on clinical matters, please find a supervisor with expertise that fits your [00:22:00] needs.

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