As a busy professional dealing with a fast-paced medical practice, you might not always have time to think about small ways to make your business better. Medical staffers tend to put their focus on people first and save the bottom line for later. However, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to prioritize patient needs while streamlining your medical practice at the same time. A way to do this is by outsourcing calls to a medical answering service to transfer calls and take messages during non-business hours. Many smaller practices have guidelines set up for dealing with urgent calls from patients, but what happens to all the other after-hours calls that come through? None of your patients should feel ignored or swept aside. If you’re looking to do the best thing for your practice, investing in a medical answering service is a great place to start. Here are a few reasons why.
Give Patients All-Hours Access
These days most medical practices, from large hospitals to the smallest private practices, have a web presence that helps patients find basic information during off hours. However, even the most state-of-the-art websites can’t give patients everything they need, especially if they’re calling with specific, private information about medication or symptoms. Most patients simply aren’t satisfied with having to fill out contact sheets online. Having an all-hours answering service won’t just allow your patients to get through to your office with non-urgent calls, it will help you recognize trends and analyze caller data so that you and your practice can be better prepared to meet patient needs. Some services will even give you the option of being notified in real time on your own phone, so you can always be aware of when your patient is reaching for answers.
Stay HIPAA Compliant
Every medical professional knows that when it comes to patient information, staying compliant with HIPAA and HITECH protocol is of the utmost importance. You’ve already worked hard to earn the trust and loyalty of your patients. Finding a medical answering service that will keep information private and protected should be your first concern when seeking out ways to streamline your business. While many business answering services are aimed at corporate workplaces, medical answering services are specifically designed to keep patient confidentiality at the forefront.
Increase Patient Loyalty
Just like any business, your practice depends on building relationships with patients. If your patient base doesn’t feel a personal connection to your practice or feels that they’re receiving generic care from your facility, they’re likely to seek treatment elsewhere. Getting a medical answering service might not seem like the most obvious way to increase patient loyalty, but you’d be surprised at how far a simple action like setting up an answering service goes in terms of letting your patient base know that they’re being listened to. If your patients are made to feel that they’re only welcome to ask questions or raise concerns during office hours, loyalty may drop off, especially if your competitors are offering a more personalized, round-the-clock approach to patient care. Using an answering service is a small step you can take toward creating an environment of enhanced care and safety for each and every patient that comes through your doors.
Protect Your Business
Every business needs to be protected from any possible legal issues. Many businesses devote an entire wing of their company to dealing with legal matters. While some larger hospitals also have a legal team on staff, many smaller practices simply can’t afford to take this step. Fortunately, if you’re using an answering service that documents each call, you won’t need to arm yourself with a legal team. Many medical answering services give you the option to keep calls on record so that you’ll always be protected in the event of a lawsuit. You’ll also be able to protect your staff from unwanted calls by blocking certain numbers and keeping courtesy calls and telemarketers from clogging up your call flow.
Cut Down on Costs
Many patients prefer to speak to a human rather than a machine, with good reason. However, when it comes to keeping call flow steady 24/7, human error can easily get in the way of quality service for your patients. While it can be great to employ a full-time desk agent to field calls during work hours, this method can also easily backfire when you’re short-staffed or simply can’t find enough dependable staffers to take on your practice’s growing call volume. The alternative is less expensive, more efficient, and can help your business formulate a much more consistent approach to meeting patient needs. Medical answering services exist to redirect calls, answer basic information, such as business hours and location, and collect call data safely and in compliance with HIPAA mandates. These services also cost far less to install than it does to employ full-time staffers to work overnight and holiday shifts. If you’re looking for a practical way to cut down on costs while keeping up with patient needs, getting a medical answering service is the way to go.
Offer Help to a Wider Variety of Patients
If your practice is located in an urban capital, or even a smaller, diverse town or city, chances are you’re dealing with a multi-ethnic client base. Many of your patients will need basic information, like directions to your facility, pharmacy hours, and office hours, translated into a range of different languages. If you’ve been relying on staffers to take calls, this could already be proving a problem. Not only do you have to employ staff to field calls 24/7, you also have to make sure those staffers are well-versed in the primary languages of your patient base. With an answering service, it’s simple. You can pre-record messages in a variety of languages without worrying about patients getting confused or constantly redirected. You can even employ a function that allows callers to choose the language they’re most comfortable with on each call. Using an answering service will just be one more way that you show your patients how dedicated you are to serving them in a patient, respectful manner.