What Does a Doctors Answering Service Do? | 11 Must Have’s To Avoid Bad Call Centers
A doctors answering service can free up healthcare providers while providing 24/7 support to patients. They can take care of appointment setting and much more.
Did you know that doctors spend about one-sixth of their working hours on administrative work? While doctors may not be answering phones, they could use a medical answering service to help.
That way, other staff in the office can help with administrative tasks. They won’t have to spend as much time answering phones, so they can provide the support you need.
Discover for yourself what a medical answering service does and how it can help providers and patients.
Doctors Answering Service Covers Calls During and After Hours
If you handle all of the calls in your office, you can only do that when your office is open. While that can be useful, it’s not always the best option for patients and families.
A doctors answering service can help you during and after your office hours. So if someone works during the same hours as your office, they may not be able to call and schedule an appointment or ask a question while they’re at work.
However, you can use a medical answering service to help at all hours of the day or night. Your patients can call to schedule appointments or ask about symptoms when it’s convenient for them.
Plus, your staff won’t have to handle as many calls during the day. That way, you can spend more time focusing on your patients.
A Quality Medical Answering Service Assists With Emergencies
Another benefit of using a receptionist service is that they can help with emergencies. If someone calls with an emergency during the day, the service can transfer the call to your office or to a hospital.
At night, the virtual receptionist can transfer the call to an on-call doctor or another emergency service. They don’t need to be a medical expert, and they can ask questions to determine where the call should go.
That way, your patients can get the care they need more quickly. You and your team won’t have to spend time on those calls when you could spend time on other tasks.
And the answering service can tell your office about emergency calls. Then, you can stay up to date on what’s going on with your patients.
Answer Basic Questions
An answering service can also save you time by answering basic questions that patients have. The receptionist can help patients that want to know:
- Office hours
- Email address
- Fax number
These basic calls can take up a lot of time, so using a doctors answering service can save you a lot of time. Plus, you can still have your patients speak to a person instead of an automated system.
While automated systems are convenient, they can be frustrating. They also aren’t very personal, and it can take a lot of steps to even reach a person with those tools.
By having a person answer the call from the beginning, you can make the call easier on your patients. That can make your patients more likely to call with questions when they have a good experience.
Good Call Centers Help Nurses
Perhaps your patients frequently have questions about their medical records, lab results, and similar information. A lot of those calls require a nurse to answer.
However, getting those calls directly in your office can interfere with nurse schedules. If you use an answering service, you can have the receptionist take a message for your nurses.
When nurses have time to review the message, they can do so and call the patient back. That way, they don’t have to stop what they’re doing just to answer a patient call.
Just make sure the nurses reply within a few hours and the call isn’t an emergency. If the call is an emergency, the receptionist can route it to the right place.
Scheduling appointments over the phone can be great because you can confirm the details right there. But if someone in your office has to do that, it can take up a lot of their day.
When you use an answering service, that team of receptionists can handle those calls. The service can help patients schedule appointments to make sure you have a full schedule without being overbooked.
And if you get a last-minute cancellation, an answering service may even help you fill that slot. Then, you won’t have too many gaps in your schedule as a provider.
Of course, a medical answering service can also help book appointments months out. While you may book follow-up visits at the end of the first appointment, you don’t have to deal with calls to book the next visit.
Once you schedule an appointment, you should remind the patient so that they know to show up. Some patients don’t need reminders, but it’s better to be extra safe.
However, spending time calling patients with appointment reminders takes a lot of time. Someone in your office may need to spend a few minutes on each call, so it could easily take up much of their day.
To get that time back, consider having a medical phone service handle those reminder calls. The service can ask the patient to confirm they’ll be there or if they want to cancel or reschedule.
Rescheduling can take even longer than a simple confirmation, so outsourcing that task may save even more time. Then, you can make sure you see your patients when necessary, and your staff can focus on other things.
The best doctors answering service can even help patients prepare for an appointment ahead of time. If you have a lot of paperwork for people to fill out, they may need to show up earlier to the visit than they’d like.
Of course, that can also waste time for the patient, and it can clog up your waiting room. Plus, some patients may not be able to get there that early if they have work or another commitment.
Fortunately, you can have your answering service register patients when they schedule or confirm the appointment. The receptionist can go over certain questions that they can answer over the phone.
While your patients may need to sign a few papers at the office, it won’t have to take as long. Then, you can still see your patients, and everyone can save time.
Comply With HIPAA
You definitely want to avoid bad call centers that are not HIPAA compliant. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requires you to protect patient information. While it can seem like using an answering service would violate HIPAA, it doesn’t have to.
If you hire a medical answering service, they’ll be more likely to already have processes in place to follow HIPAA. A general phone service might also have the resources to protect patient information.
Either way, a doctors answering service will take the necessary steps to keep patient information safe. Then, you can make sure your entire office follows HIPAA requirements.
Make sure you ask any service about how they follow HIPAA before choosing the company. The last thing you want is to choose a service that won’t comply with the law.
Save You Money
Of course, a doctors answering service can also save you money overall, even though it may appear to cost more. When you hire a full-time employee to handle the phones, you have to pay for their salary and benefits.
However, you can find an answering service that charges less than what you’d pay an employee. And you can enjoy the benefit of having multiple people available to answer your phones.
You also don’t have to hire multiple full-time employees just to cover the phones 24 hours a day. A good medical answering service can take care of that for you.
Help Traveling Patients
If you have patients that like to travel, an answering service can help them as well. They can provide the same service to patients in another country as those at home.
Since the service is active at all times, a patient can call when they wake up or have a free moment. It won’t matter if they’re in the same time zone as your office or not.
While patients may not need to call during a trip, you never know what could happen. If someone gets really sick or realizes that they don’t have enough medication for the trip, being able to call and get help can be crucial.
A lot of people like to think they’re good at multi-tasking, but that’s not usually the case. When you try to multi-task, you can waste quite a bit of time changing between tasks.
Consider if your employees have to switch between answering the phones and working with patients in person. It may look like they can do everything just fine, but they could be more productive doing one thing or the other.
By using an answering service, your office employees can focus on the patients there in person. Your virtual receptionist can take and screen calls, and they can only send calls through when necessary.
Which Doctors Answering Service Will You Use?
A doctors answering service can seem like an unnecessary expense, but it can save you time and money. The service will give you and your staff more time to spend with patients in the office.
But they can also send calls to you when there’s an emergency or another issue. That way, you can give everyone the best possible care.
Are you ready to find the best answering service for your medical practice? Compare prices for some of the best options today.