Aside from their shared characteristic of healing the mind and body, disparate health practices, like those of dentists and psychologists, share a commonality in patient need. This is that these patients often defy routine scheduling and communication.
From open until close, every successful dental practice sees a non-stop succession of patients coming in for everything from routine check-ups to surgery. Receptionists are kept busy checking in new appointments, performing clerical duties, and answering nearly non-stop calls.
When this happens, an answering service with a live call agent is more than a convenience; it is a necessity to ensure the best customer service possible. When you consider the need to field calls for emergencies in a 24-hour business world, the implications to customer service as they relate to the bottom line are obvious.
Like any healthcare practice, a successful psychologist’s office must put a great deal of planning into patient appointment schedules. Due to the often specific nature of appointment durations, this requires an extra layer of communication to ensure that schedule changes are promptly and courteously conveyed to patients.
Many psychologists’ patients may be in the hospital for treatment of medical conditions that require some level of counseling in order to address emotional issues stemming from the illnesses or injuries. Working through these issues before and/or after their hospital stays may require more impromptu counseling with psychologists. This can prompt a need for unscheduled counseling support that requires them to contact their psychologists’ offices to set an appointment.
If these calls come in while the receptionist is on another call, or more likely, with another patient, it is important that each patient be greeted with a live, calm, and sympathetic voice. Similar to the receptionist’s job, the live call agent’s job is not to take any details from the patient other than name, contact info, and priority need. The point is to be able to keep the patient calls from going to voicemail while ensuring that the messages are immediately relayed to the psychologists.
Like all healthcare settings, psychologists, dentists, and other healthcare professionals are bound by HIPAA privacy regulations when undertaking any communication with clients or potential clients. The fact that leading medical answering services have the technology and the training to ensure the practice’s HIPPA compliance is paramount.
In terms of technology, the answering service is always recording and archiving calls intended for the practice. Healthcare professionals using these services are able to protect patients’ privacy with encrypted archives. In addition, medical professionals can listen to the actual call playback at their convenience to make any determinations as well as review how the live agent handled the call.
Since these overflow calls are automatically switched over to the specific call agent handling the practice’s answering service account, patients get a seamless experience where they always feel as though they are dealing directly with the practice. In point of fact, this is true since they are trained with the practice’s specific information, contact data, and scheduling updates.
The answering service live agent can provide a level of specificity as to when the caller will hear back directly from the doctor. This can range from less than an hour to any estimate under 24 hours. This is particularly helpful with after-hours emergency calls.
Health professionals can set up protocols for the best ways to reach them so that they can respond to the caller based on priority. This can include direct calls to designated numbers, emails, or voice messages. In all instances, they can access the original archived call before they respond to the patient.
Since the expense of having this level of collaborative support via a medical answering service is based on specific calls fielded, it is highly cost effective by any measure. When it is measured by its ability to ensure patient comfort, customer service, and privacy, it inevitably reflects a healthier bottom line. This is possible because the level of care results in higher patient retention and growth through the spreading of positive word-of-mouth encounters.