Sometimes it feels as though the expression “Hurry up and wait” was coined specifically to describe frustration that can be involved in a phone call to the doctor. I just want to make an appointment. How hard can this be?
From the perspective of the doctor and his staff, it can be downright impossible. More patients may mean more people helped and more money in the bank, but it also means more paperwork, more hours, and more phone calls. Putting patients on hold is often the only way to handle the near constant stream of calls wanting appointments, prescriptions renewed and called in to the pharmacy, or medical advice.
Even closing the office for the night doesn’t mean that the calls have stopped—in the morning your voice mail has eighty-nine messages, each needing your help. And for every call you don’t return, for every patient you lose, your profit margin slips just a little. You work 24/7, constantly at the beck and call of those you swore to help and heal. You cannot afford to miss a call.
With your hectic schedule, a professional answering service for medical offices is an inexpensive option that you can depend on. You can ensure that, during or after office hours, that your patients will get the care or advice they need. With as busy as a medical office can be, neither you nor your staff can always get to the phone. Medical answering services will take the calls for you so you’ll never miss another.
The idea behind answering services is nothing new. Your office hires a service to take and screen calls, providing basic information or passing along messages from patients. Some services will also take requests for prescriptions and schedule appointments. Answering services fall into one of these categories :
Automated answering service- Automated answering services is the name of the “press 1” menus we are all familiar with. Patients can get basic information based on their menu choices or leave a voice message.
Live answering service- Live answering services mean a patient can talk to an actual person who can answer more specific questions or in emergencies, patch the call directly through to the doctor.
Internet answering service—Internet answering service is the realm of the telecommuter. Through the interwebs, patients can get information or leave messages.
An answering service can help make a business run smoothly, allowing the doctor to have constant communication with their patients. If you are thinking of letting an answering service for medical offices take on your call load, here a few things you should keep in mind.
The operators should be friendly and knowledgeable, receiving consistent training to provide patients with a positive experience on the phone. They should also focus on your practice, so much so that patients do not even realize they have been transferred to an answering service. They should be HIPAA compliant in keeping with privacy laws.
Find out how charges are calculated, by time or by number of calls, and then decide if that method is the best option for your practice. The answering service should help you customize a plan that works the best for what you can afford and need. Lastly, make sure that the service is using technology that works with how you want to get your messages. Is there a back-up plan for a disaster? Will your patients be able to reach you 24/7? Finding an answering service will be a major help in running your practice efficiently and only needs a little bit of effort to make it come to fruition.