Medical answering services allow a call representative to answer the phone if nobody is in your office. When one of your patients call, the call will automatically be transferred to the answering service, where a representative will be able to help the patient, even during after-hours and weekends. But as you might be unaware, your answering service could either be making or breaking your business, so it is crucial to engage a responsible one.
You are likely curious how HIPAA compliant medical answering services answer calls from patients, and we can easily say that there is more than one tactic for how an answering service might handle a patient’s call. Here is an approach that we would not take, which is known as the “answer and hold” approach.
When nobody in your office is available to answer a patient’s call, an answering service would quickly answer, and then tell the patient that they will be put on hold, whether they are okay with it or not. Oftentimes, patients aren’t even given the choice or even have a chance to talk, and aren’t even greeted. The patient is put on hold for two reasons. The first is so that the caller that the patient has can get to the new possible caller for another hospital that he or she might have more of an expertise in. The second reason is so that whoever can help the patient will be available to take the call, whenever that might be.
The intentions of the answering service might be good, but at best, the execution delivers poor results. While answering the call quickly is considered good service, that is where the good service typically stops. Having the patient be put on hold, in addition to being ignored is often a real turn-off. But that isn’t all; when a person does pick up the line to help the patient, they can tell that it is someone different. This can really anger and confuse your patients, considering that they may have urgent matters and need help that isn’t given to them right away. Medical answering services that do this could also actually hurt your business, rather than help it.
Putting the patient on hold is never in the plans of HIPAA compliant medical answering services. When a patient needs urgent help from somebody in your office, they should expect the person on the other end to be with them and give them their undivided attention.
And what if the patient doesn’t get urgent help? What if they just want to book an appointment or ask a question? These are things that should be taken care of in 30 seconds or less. Patients will certainly be unsatisfied if it takes an answering service 15 minutes or longer in order to do this.
Rather than the “answer and hold” approach, the next call representative that is available answers the phone, and they are professionally trained to know your practice inside and out, so that there is no need to put a caller on hold until the “right” representative becomes available.
Our representatives greet your patients just like your staff at your office would. The caller tells the representative what they need, and the representative does their best to serve the patient. If there is ever a time in which the patient needs to talk to you, specifically, for an emergency matter, we can transfer their call to your personal phone. Very rarely will we ever consider putting a patient on hold, because we know your patients need their problems or concerns addressed.