Having a doctor’s answering service may not seem like a significant part of your practice. In reality, these answering services do much more than just direct after-hours patient calls.
The benefits of using a doctor’s answering service go far beyond taking messages or putting a call through to the doctor. These helpful services can save time and improve the efficiency of your office in many ways.
To better understand the advantages of using a doctor’s answering service, read on.
What Is a Doctor’s Answering Service?
Doctor’s answering services handle your practice’s incoming calls. Since healthcare is complicated, these answering services provide top notch customer service. They’re well-trained and have an eye for detail that’s essential in the medical field.
These answering services are also up-to-date with HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) standards. This ensures your client’s information is private and protected.
There’s more to an answering service than just handling calls. Learn more about these benefits with this list of ten ways answering services help both employees and patients.
1. Round the Clock Availability
24/7 availability is crucial in the medical world. Due to the nature of health conditions, patients may need to contact you during non-business hours. Patients may also have other factors in life that prevent them from communicating with you during office hours.
It’s reassuring to the patient to be able to have someone answer questions or take an important message. This makes the patient feel like their health and concerns matter.
2. Coverage During Office Hours
It’s not only the after-hours calls that need answering. Busy offices often have more calls coming in than their staff can efficiently answer.
Your staff can offload calls to an answering service during office hours. This frees up employees and healthcare staff to focus on patients in the office and exam rooms. Patients get the attention they need without the distraction of incoming calls.
3. Keeping It Personal
Answering services eliminate the annoyance of having to speak to an answering machine or voicemail recording. Automated answering services are often unhelpful and are definitely impersonal. Your patients will feel better when they can speak to an actual person who can address their concerns appropriately.
The value of good communication in a healthcare setting can’t be underestimated. Having someone available to field questions or relay message is an excellent way to build trust with patients. You’ll retain patients and may even gain more through word-of-mouth referrals.
4. Help With Scheduling
In addition to answering calls, answering services can schedule appointments. New appointments, appointment time changes, and cancellation notifications can all be handled by your answering service.
After your office staff has gone home for the day, you won’t need to worry about open spots in your schedule. Patients often call very early or after business hours hoping to get in as quickly as possible, and you’ll need someone to assist them.
Your answering service can put patients in any open slots you have. This helps you care for patients and also helps you avoid lost revenue due to holes in your schedule.
5. Doctor’s Answering Services Can Provide Reminders
Answering services are especially valuable when it comes to providing appointment reminders. This can help reduce day-of cancellations and no-shows.
It’s easy for a patient to forget or change their mind about an appointment when it has been scheduled months ahead of time. Missed appointments mean less patient care and less billable services. This translates to inefficient patient care and a loss of revenue.
Answering services can reduce these missed appointments by reminding patients by phone, email, or text that they have an upcoming appointment. The patient will also have the option to cancel the appointment instead of not showing up on that day.
6. Help With Preregistration and Patient Follow Up
Answering services can help ease patient stress by eliminating the need for them to come into their appointment thirty minutes early for paperwork. Doctor’s answering services do patient preregistration for you.
Having a service take care of this preliminary paperwork allows office staff to focus on other important duties, increasing efficiency. It’s also nice for patients, as they don’t need to worry about arriving early.
After medical services have been rendered, answering services follow up with patients to answer questions or direct them to the proper healthcare professional. If an appointment is needed in the follow-up period, the answering service can schedule it.
7. HIPAA Compliance
Patient privacy is a top priority always. Doctor’s answering services are HIPAA compliant. Their employees are well-versed in HIPAA standards and keep patient data safe.
Answering services also use messaging that protects data that is transmitted to the medical staff, adding to patient protection. Using an answering service that isn’t dedicated to healthcare could result in costly noncompliance consequences.
8. Relief for Nurses
Some answering services can act as a nurse triage. Often nurses are overwhelmed with patient calls. Though these all need to be addressed, their urgency level may differ.
Nurse triage answering services can identify which calls can be handled during the call and which ones should be directed to a medical professional. Answering service personnel handling triage calls are highly trained so that protocols are closely followed. They know whether to give recommendations, advise a visit to an ER, or schedule a next-day appointment.
9. Improve Your Feedback
Patient feedback is typically polar. They’ll leave feedback for a really good or really bad experience. Accessibility and communication are huge influences on a patient’s opinion of a physician and an answering service can help you stay on top of both.
Excellent service and compassionate, accurate communication by a doctor’s answering service can ensure that you’ll leave a great impression that will lead to good reviews and ratings.
10. Improve Workflow
Answering services take the load off of in-office employees during and after business hours. This frees your staff up to better handle patients, paperwork, and any other office essentials.
Increase Satisfaction and Efficiency with a Doctor’s Answering Service
Your time is valuable. A doctor’s answering service makes your office a better work environment for your staff while keeping a good line of communication between you and your patients.
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