How to Choose a Healthcare Answering Service
As a healthcare provider, your day doesn’t always end at 5 pm.
Physicians want to have clear communication channels with their patients. It’s one of the most important parts of providing excellent care.
But everyone needs time to rest and recharge after work. How do you ensure you’re available to your patients while still having quality time away from work?
You hire a medical answering service.
You want to have more control over after-hours calls. And you want to maintain excellent communication with patients.
And you want your patients to feel confident when they have after-hours concerns.
Read more to find out why an answering service might be the right choice for your medical practice.
Why Use an Answering Service?
With all the ways we have to stay in touch, one might think an answering service is obsolete. That couldn’t be further from the truth.
Of course, you have voice mail. And you can leave an emergency phone number on your outgoing message. But not every after-hours call is an emergency.
How can you screen after-hours calls and provide service when it’s needed?
After hours answering service operators are available around the clock. They’ll take your calls and only deliver the messages you want when you want them.
Do you think an answering service might be right for your practice? Read on and we’ll find out more.
How Does a Medical Answering Service Work?
In the past, a physician’s office would forward their phones to an after-hours answering service. The operators would answer calls, take messages and relay important information to the person on call.
Today’s answering services perform those tasks but also offer much more.
Now calls can be recorded for your records. Operators can access your scheduling system and make or cancel appointments. Some medical answering services can accept payments from patients right over the phone.
The rise in telehealth visits might have affected the way your staff handles calls. An answering service can help take up the slack so your in-house staff has more time to devote to your patients.
But each aspect of the relationship with your 24×7 medical answering service is up to you. You can choose as many or as few options to ensure your practice provides the best service to your patients.
When your patients need to call after hours it’s a stressful situation. A voice mail message directing them to call 911 or another physician might be confusing. Having a medical answering service ensures your patients speak with a trained professional who can advise them on the next steps.
Plus, you’ll have a detailed record of the call and the directions given.
Should I Choose a Medical-Only Answering Service?
Answering services have diverse clientele. Most of their clients might be healthcare providers but other businesses have after-hours needs as well.
Some answering services only work with healthcare clients. Their operators are often trained in medical terminology and HIPAA compliance.
This makes a difference when deciding who will be in charge of your phone lines when your staff is not.
The staff at a doctors answering service cannot give medical advice. But they can act as a direct link between you and your patients. This gives your patients peace of mind when leaving messages and personal information.
Does Location Matter?
Location isn’t only important in real estate. It’s also an important quality in a good answering service.
Many corporations have outsourced their call centers. This may be fine for banks but it might not work well for your patients.
Your answering service represents your practice when you’re away. Your patients want to feel confident that their message is accurate and delivered in a timely fashion. Patients might be reluctant to give detailed information if they feel their call has been routed to an overseas call center.
Location is also important when you consider regional accents and second languages. Does the answering service provide multi-lingual operators? Are the operators familiar with strong accents and hard to pronounce names?
Healthcare providers in places like Hawaii and the Deep South should ask these questions. You can understand your patients perfectly. You expect the same from the answering service you trust to be the first point of contact after hours.
How Much Does an Answering Service Cost?
Answering service costs can vary. But they’re usually tailored to the services you need and your call volume.
Do you only need an answering service to screen calls after hours? Or do you need a service to act as a full extension of your front office?
Some medical answering service providers charge by the minute. Others assess your needs and offer monthly plans. Be sure to explore all available options and get quotes from multiple providers.
You’ll want to have your attorney look over any payment contracts before you agree to services.
What Services Do I Need?
Assessing the needs of your practice is vital to a successful relationship with your answering service.
Is your practice a busy one? Do you need someone available throughout the day to handle overflow calls? Or do you only need after-hours call screening and forwarding to a hospital answering service?
Talk to your front office staff. They’re aware of the days and times when call volume is high. Are too many calls going to voicemail on Monday mornings? Are you receiving more calls during flu season? Are you missing calls from pharmacies and insurance companies at certain times of the month?
Keep a call log for four to six weeks. This will help you determine who is calling and when. You can bring this information to the customer support team at the answering service. They will help you decide what is needed and what is not.
Also, ask if there is a trial period. This can help you tailor your services while still providing after-hours attention to your patients.
Find Your Medical Answering Service Today
Are you ready to give your patients the best communication services you can? Have you decided that a medical answering service is right for you and your practice?
Your patients trust you and you want to provide them with the best care possible. Explore different types of after-hours answering services and get a quote today!