Customer service is important in all industries, but it is especially crucial in the healthcare industry. Lasting patient-doctor relationships rely on continuous communication, and that includes after-hours. We all know it’s not fun being a patient because of the pain from certain symptoms. This is why it’s very important for patients to hear back from their healthcare provider in a timely manner — it gives them a sense of relief and support.
If you have a growing number of patients, however, it can be a challenge to juggle your medical practice and maintaining that communication. This is where a medical answering service can be of great help.
Hiring a medical answering service for a doctors’ office is like hiring a receptionist to answer the phone. Incoming calls are routed to live, remote receptionists who are well-trained to handle calls in the healthcare industry. These receptionists know what information to collect and how to handle it, and they can handle basic customer service inquiries, make appointments, and forward emergency calls to the right parties.
A medical answering service can benefit your medical practice in many ways, from being HIPAA compliant, having 24-hour availability with quality service, and financial savings.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) is a law that aims to protect the privacy of your patients’ medical information. This includes: everything that that healthcare professionals put on a patient’s medical record (including conversations), any information within an insurer’s computer system, and billing information. HIPAA establishes national standards for processing electronic healthcare transactions and requires healthcare organizations to implement them.
It’s important to ensure that your medical answering service complies with HIPAA rules and regulations, just as your practice does. There are serious legal and regulatory risks if your practice or your medical answering service isn’t HIPAA-complaint. Additionally, your practice or your answering service may face serious fines.
AVAILABILITY & QUALITY SERVICE
Medical emergencies can happen during any time of day or night. If one of your patients needs to make an appointment or speak with a doctor right away, they’ll be relieved to find out that your medical answering service is always available. Your medical answering team will be trained to answer calls at any time of day, and will be able to forward urgent cases to the appropriate extensions. Speaking with a live representative, regardless of the time of day, can make patients feel more confident about their care.
The longer you put your patients on hold, the more dissatisfied they become. Responding to patients in a timely manner is an essential quality to possess in the medical world. Another quality is promptness; it’s important to transfer information regarding patient diagnoses, medications, procedures, and other patient concerns so the information is where it needs to be for the appropriate person.
As a provider, you need to feel confident that your medical answering service is taking accurate notes and moving quickly to get critical information to you. Your patients also have to feel confident that the answering service is responsive to their concerns, knowing that it will act quickly to get their questions to the doctor. Your service needs to be part of a network that gets information to you efficiently, provides message delivery confirmation, and that has a reply capability.
The constant demands of the profession make it challenging for healthcare professionals to promptly answer calls from patients. This can yield negative feedback about the practitioner or the medical facility itself.
A knowledgeable medical answering service will have representatives who can provide expert information on all kinds of medical services and practice. This will ensure that all of your patients are satisfied due to the quick, accurate, and personal attention to their needs because of the trained representative. This helps provide quality service to your patients, which can help improve your practice.
Quality service means being there for your patients, and this includes speaking their language. If you have any number of Spanish-speaking patients visiting your office, you should implement a bilingual messaging system to support them. It’s crucial to look for a bilingual medical answering service, where agents possess both written and oral Spanish communication skills. This will ensure that you receive accurate messages and are providing best-in-class care to your bilingual patients.
Now more than ever, there is pressure on the medical industry to contain costs. Good medical answering services will work within your budget and help you find a solution that works without sacrificing quality.
Hiring and training new employees to do what a medical answering service can do costs more time, money, and resources. A reliable call center trained in medical answering services has established systems and processes to get the needed work done. Utilizing the services of a medical answering service is a more cost-effective way to delivering top-quality customer service to patients instead of paying for an employee’s salary and benefits.
There are two common ways that a medical answering service can bill. The first method is “per minute” pricing, and the second is “per call” pricing. When you look at various packages, 95 cents-per-minute is not always more expensive than 75 cents-per-minute.
When comparing “per minute” and “per call” rates, many times you will find that the “per minute” rate is a better value. If you’re getting a lot of calls that last less than thirty seconds, then that one dollar ($1.00) per call is really costing you about two dollars ($2.00) per minute.
It’s important to do whatever it takes to maintain patient trust and confidence in your practice. A doctor’s medical answering service is supposed to represent the medical practice after hours. If it’s done right, the doctor will build a relationship with the service, much like they do with other employees. The most common reason a doctor leaves their medical answering service is because too many mistakes are being made after hours.
Contact One is a call center based in Tucson, Arizona that provides answering services to various industries. Our team is HIPAA-compliant, available at anytime of day, and will provide everyone on the end of the other line with high-quality service. Our highly-trained team of virtual receptionists will provide you with a variety of services.
Call us at 1-800-278-3347 to find out more about what we do, and how we can benefit your medical practice.