It’s possible to find medical answering services to manage your calls at affordable rates! There’s no need to outsource overseas. Local medical answering services work for a variety of businesses in the healthcare industry, including private medical offices (physicians, chiropractors and more), hospitals, home healthcare providers and medical equipment companies. Compare several medical answering services to find the best fit for you.
What Are The Key Features of an Effective Medical Answering Service?
If your medical group practice is like most, a small army of front and back office staff with specific responsibilities are regularly enlisted in answering the phone. Despite this, most practices are unable to meet the first-ring standard that is necessary for an efficient and positive encounter.
Many estimate that phone calls to physician practices have increased by as much as 50 percent in the last five years. Even with multiple people beyond the practice receptionist handling calls for appointments, prescription refill requests, concerns from sick patients, billing issues, and the health reform law itself, medical group practices will be unlikely to be able to keep up.
When hiring medical answering services, find a call center that can respond to your patients’ urgent needs 24/7, support your office staff and provide flexible service options. Medical answering services should provide the following options or add-ons:
- Your own toll free 800 number
- A voice logger that records every conversation
- Message storage and retrieval
- First ring pick-up
- Automated call screening
- Local and nationwide paging
- Real-time, online appointment scheduling
- Multiple voicemail boxes
- Text messaging to cell phones, smartphones and pagers
In the first place, this enables first ring pickup efficiency during peak hours and low staffing times such as lunch, absences, and vacation. This is in addition to providing patient convenience via access to the office 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Patient convenience and satisfaction is also increased through the ability of a medical answering service to send appointment reminders via the patient’s preferred mode of communication such as instant message, email, text message or by telephone.
When using a service with deep experience in healthcare and specific types of medical practices, the medical group only needs to provide specific protocols to ensure that the patient always feels as if they are dealing directly with the medical group. Highly advanced and HIPAA compliant technology ensures that the live agent, or if requested, a messaging system component of the medical answering service asks specific questions that are based on the caller’s specific needs.
This allows the system and the live representative to match the responses to the medical practice’s provided protocols. Messages can be sent to multiple email addresses, text to cell phones, or even accessed anytime by Web-based applications that house the caller information in HIPAA compliant secure portals for extended periods of time.
How to Choose the Right Medical Answering Service
Regardless of whether a medical group practice is composed of general practitioners, specialists, or both, efficiency starts and ends with patient communications. For the patient, each encounter by phone whether it is the first or the fiftieth, must be immediate, informed, compassionate and convenient in addition to fulfilling their diverse needs.
Medical answering service agents should be trained to offer professional, caring support for your callers. When comparing medical answering services, ask them how they train their staff—training should not be a one-time event! Call centers function as more than just an answering machine, and as a business in the healthcare industry, your receptionists must be extra sensitive to patient needs. Receptionists should maintain a calm, caring tone, and provide callers with accurate information in an efficient manner. The medical answering services team must collect accurate patient or caller information, qualify urgent calls, take messages, schedule and confirm appointments. Medical answering services should provide bilingual support for Spanish-speaking callers.
How to Save with Medical Answering Services
While hiring and training additional staff is both too costly and of little benefit in the short term, the simple act of activating a medical answering service brings immediate convenience and efficiency via live customer service 24 hours a day. This seamless adjunct to the practice communication team can have a profound effect in several different ways.
When comparing different medical answering services, find a balance between costs and services. Don’t settle for the least expensive service! It may be tempting to outsource, but locally-run medical answering services can provide more personal service, and ensure your callers reach a team of native English speakers. Compare benefits, ask for references, and visit the company if you can. Taking a tour of the medical answering services facility will give you a good idea how they run their operation. By choosing the right medical answering services team, you’ll cut down on costs and maximize your communication efficiency.
How Hospitals Can Benefit from Medical Answering Services
The practitioners of hospital medicine called hospitalists are the fastest growing specialty in the United States. Virtually unheard of a generation ago, hospitalists now number approximately 30,000 and are practicing in 3,300 large hospitals and over half of community hospitals.
Hospital medicine, like emergency medicine, is a specialty organized around a site of care (the hospital) rather than an organ (like a cardiologist) or disease (like oncology) or a patient’s age (like pediatrics). The majority of hospitalists are physicians with a MD or DO degree. They work in the hospital and provide patient care, teaching, research and leadership related to hospital care. Hospitalists also develop and manage inpatient flow and quality assurance.
Hospitalists are employed by the hospital and their costs are mainly covered by professional billings and health insurance plans. Hospitalists often do the job that private physicians did while visiting their patients in the hospital while doing “rounds”. Private physicians find they can work more efficiently and are better off financially by seeing patients only in their office and letting the hospitalist take care of their patients while in the hospital.
Research shows that hospitalists reduce the length of stay, treatment costs and improve the overall efficiency of care for hospitalized patients. They are often leaders in quality improvement areas including transitions of care, co-management of patients, reducing hospital acquired disease, and optimizing the care of patients.
Anserve took a leadership position among answering services when it took on its first hospitalist account eight years ago. It has since acquired the technology, trained staff and state of the art on-call software necessary to manage the complexities of the large multi doctor in-hospital practice. Anserve ‘s SMS technology, customized scripting and sophisticated dispatching system provides the timely and accurate communication necessary to handle hundreds of daily hospitalists calls. Anserve currently handles over one hundred hospitalists in six hospitals.