Small, local, family practices are an essential part of any community. They allow individuals and families to develop trusting, long-term relationships with family doctors that know their medical history and help them to manage health concerns. These practices give patients a place to turn for medical advice, perhaps helping them to avoid costly and unnecessary trips to the emergency room for minor maladies, or alternately, seek out proper medical facilities and life-saving care in the event of an emergency.
That said, private medical practices have to keep an eye on their bottom line, just like any small business. This means carefully controlling costs and finding ways to reduce waste and increase efficiency. You have to be careful how you spend if you want to stay in business and continue providing the best possible care to your patients.
You might think that hiring a service to automate calls for your practice is a waste of money. Why would pay for this service when your staff is already handling appointment reminders and other calls for your practice? As it turns out, you could be wasting a lot of money by continuing to call manually. Here are four ways that antiquated calling practices could be costing you.
1. Actual cost
Whether your staff receives hourly or salaried pay, their time is costing you money. If you don’t have any idea what you’re actually paying your staff to call patients to remind them about appointments, overdue bills, and so on, it’s time to start adding up costs.
Suppose each staff member spends an hour or more each day making calls. What does that equate to over the weeks and months that make up a year? You may find that you’re paying thousands of dollars for seriously overqualified employees to do the work of a receptionist. Of course, it might cost you a lot more to actually hire a full-time or even a part-time receptionist to manage calling.
However, you also have to consider that every hour your nurses and other staff spend on calls could be spent doing something far more important for your practice, like filling out charts, billing, or spending additional time with patients in need. In addition, the tasks they don’t get to because of time spent calling don’t just go away. This can leave employees feeling rushed or having to work overtime to get everything done.
In time, the costs add up, and they aren’t limited to the money you’re spending. When you opt to hire a service to automate calling, you could actually pay less that what you’re currently paying employees for the task, and your employees can turn to more important tasks in the meantime.
In order for your practice to run like a well-oiled machine, every member of your staff must complete their work in a timely manner. This includes processing and attending to patients, updating charts, managing inventory, handling billing, and more. These are important tasks and you hire qualified professionals to ensure that they’re done right.
When these workers are interrupted throughout the day to complete calls and remind patients of upcoming appointments, it can not only take time away from more important tasks, but it can also significantly impact the efficiency of your office. This, in turn, can eat into your profits, and you risk having things fall through the cracks, to the detriment of your practice and your patients.
You want knowledgeable, experienced, and compassionate staffers for your practice, which means you probably go to great pains to hire the most qualified candidates. You want the best workers on your team to ensure that patients feel welcome and well-cared for, and that every task is completed with competency and attention to detail.
On the flip side, the nurses and other staff members you hire have spent years of their life gaining the training and experience necessary to best serve a patient population. They are dedicated to learning all they can in order to provide the best possible care to patients in need.
It is therefore not only a waste of resources to ask your staff to take time away from more important duties to attend to manual calling, but it’s also a bit of an insult to their intellect. You’re not necessarily paying these professionals to be receptionists – or at least, that’s not the job they were hired for. Asking overqualified members of your team to call patients with appointment reminders when they should be attending to more important duties could naturally upset them.
If you want to hire a receptionist specifically to handle calling and other front desk duties, that’s one thing. However, it’s another thing entirely to expect highly-trained nursing professionals to add this task to their already busy schedules. Because many small, family practices rely on nursing staff to do double duty by checking in patients, loading patient calls on top may be too much to ask.
It could lead to resentments, in-office tension that affects staff and patient relationships, and perhaps even staff turnover. This, in turn, could cost you a lot when it comes to downtime, hiring, and training new employees for your practice.
4. Customer satisfaction
Your staff should be focused on providing the best possible care to patients at all times. In addition, it behooves you to find ways to increase convenience for patients. Using an automated calling service helps you to accomplish both of these goals.
When staff members have to call patients to confirm appointments, they take time out of their day that could otherwise be devoted to serving patients in-office. Employees may have to call several numbers to ensure that a patient receives the message, or if they actually get a patient on the phone, the result could be long conversations as patients ask questions and voice concerns that would be better discussed at their visit.
With automated services, patients simply receive a message via call, text, or email, often with the option to confirm their appointment with a click. This modern convenience is beneficial to your patients and your practice. You’ll not only save time and money by using a call service, but you could also retain a loyal and satisfied staff and provide quality care and convenience to patients in the process.