The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) is just the most obvious of many changes that will impact healthcare settings in many ways in 2014. One major way that PPACA will impact healthcare is in internal and external communications. Consequently, medical answering services will need to play a larger part in the day to day operations of every type of healthcare setting.
The expected nearly 30-percent growth of retail health clinics over the next several years will go a long way to stem the tide of the tens of millions of new patients that will be entering the healthcare marketplace. The strain that these new patients are likely to put on primary care physicians not to mention the already overloaded ERs will also mean greater strain for the clinics. Medical answering services will become a more integral part of these retail healthcare settings by providing a friendly, knowledgeable voice to route overflow calls as opposed to longer on-hold times.
Although a licensed practitioner is always on duty during a retail healthcare clinic’s hours of operation, sudden patient surges or after hours emergencies must also be accommodated in operation plans. Medical answering services can provide communication for patient routing to other facilities and hospitals as well as the ability to contact practitioners that may be off duty to provide assistance. This ultimately maximizes the effectiveness and continuity of care between the retail clinics, hospitals and practices.
Medical answering services may be particularly needed after normal practice hours in order to field calls, answer questions, take messages and route any emergency calls to the cell phones or home phones of designated personnel.
Even a dedicated receptionist in a practice has other duties that will increase in a busier office in 2014. Consequently, utilizing these medical answering services will help mitigate late appointments, annoyed patients and staff as well as productivity loss. In addition, these practices will be able to provide these services with structured talking and information points based on specific practice protocols for new and existing patients.
With the mandatory rollout of the ICD-10 billing codes, meaningful use reporting, and many practices rolling out electronic medical record systems in addition to the other impacts of the Affordable Care Act, practices will be struggling internally to bring their current systems and personnel up to speed. It is apparent that 2014 will be a year of profound change to healthcare settings. Consequently, medical answering services will become an integral part of their ability to keep pace with those changes.