Why do doctors have answering services?

There are several significant reasons why doctors have a telephone answering service. These relate to better meeting patient needs, strengthening your healthcare business, and separating your work life from your personal life.

At a foundational level, medical office answering services answer telephone calls for healthcare providers when they can’t. This occurs both during office hours and after-hours, meeting several important objectives.

Here are some of the top reasons why doctors have answering services:

Serve Patients More Effectively

Patients call when they have a need. It doesn’t matter when this need occurs, be it during the day, evening, weekend, or holiday. If something concerns them, they’ll call you. And when they call, they expect a response.

The response they expect is being able to talk to a real person.

It doesn’t matter if this person is in your office or works for your telephone answering service, the key is that your patients are able to interact with another human being. 

A recording is insufficient. An answering machine will disappoint. And voicemail infuriates most people. If you can’t answer their call with a real person, they’ll call another provider in hopes for a different outcome. This brings us to our next point.

Retain Existing Business

Having a professional telephone answering service handle your medical calls when your staff is unavailable is a simple, practical, and affordable action you can take to better retain patients.

Being available for them when they have a need is the first step to keeping them as a patient. And disrespecting them by assaulting them with technological solutions or otherwise dismissing the importance of their phone call is the first step to sending them somewhere else.

Therefore, healthcare providers use answering services to better retain their patients.

Attract New Patients 

We talked about how patients will react when they call and expect to talk to a person and aren’t able to. They’ll call someone else. What if they call you?

A disgruntled patient from another practice might phone your office. If you have a person answer their phone call, you’ve just taken an essential step to getting a new patient.

Remember, they’re calling because they have a need and their desire for a satisfactory outcome is high. Impress them when they call, and you’re likely to earn the opportunity to meet their future healthcare needs.

Maintain a Better Work/Life Balance 

Patients can have a need arise at any time of the day or night. Healthcare providers, however, don’t want to be available twenty-four-hours-a-day. They can’t. At least not if they want to maintain their health and their sanity. How can you be available and still maintain a healthy work/life balance?

It’s tricky but a telephone answering service can help.

Answering services are the first line of defense to achieve this critical dichotomy. They’ll answer your calls, take messages, and offer solutions according to your specifications. In doing so, they screen calls and only involve you or your on-call staff for the true emergencies.

Support Staff More Fully

A final constituency to consider is your staff. Answering services can back up your practice’s personnel during office hours when they are busy, understaffed, and on breaks or at lunch.

Though answering services can’t do everything your in-house staff can do, they can answer the telephone. And this frees up your office personnel to focus on other things.

Optimize Operational Efficiency

By outsourcing your call handling to a specialized medical answering service, you also improve the overall operational efficiency of your practice. Administrative tasks can often bog down your staff, leaving them with less time for patient care. An answering service allows them to delegate the repetitive but necessary task of handling calls, enabling them to focus on more critical functions that require their specialized skills and expertise. This leads to improved productivity and can also contribute to increased job satisfaction among your staff.

Enhance Professional Image

Your front-end interaction with patients is a critical element in establishing the professional image of your medical practice. Poor call handling can lead to negative reviews and damage your reputation. A medical answering service not only ensures that all calls are answered promptly and professionally but also can offer additional services such as appointment scheduling and reminder calls. These value-added services can significantly enhance the image of your practice and contribute to your business growth.

Compliance and Security

A HIPAA-compliant medical answering service is more than just a convenience; it’s a necessity in today’s healthcare landscape. Violations can result in severe penalties and undermine trust in your practice. Professional answering services usually have well-established protocols to ensure they meet all regulatory standards, thereby ensuring that you are also in compliance. This adds another layer of security and reliability to your medical practice, which is particularly important when handling sensitive patient data.

Flexibility and Scalability

As your medical practice grows, so will the volume of calls you receive. Having a flexible and scalable answering service is crucial to accommodate this growth. Most answering services offer a variety of plans that can be adjusted according to your evolving needs, allowing you to scale up or down without major disruptions. It’s a more flexible alternative to hiring additional in-house staff and gives you the agility to adapt quickly to changing business conditions.

FAQs

Q: How can an answering service improve my medical practice’s online reputation?

A: An answering service can play a crucial role in customer satisfaction, which in turn can lead to positive online reviews. Timely and professional answering of calls, along with services like appointment scheduling, can provide a seamless customer experience that patients are likely to share online.

Q: Can a medical answering service integrate with my current EHR system?

A: This largely depends on the answering service you choose. Many advanced services offer integration capabilities with popular EHR systems, allowing for a smoother transition and centralized record-keeping. Always check with the service provider to understand the level of integration possible.

Q: How does a medical answering service handle emergency calls?

A: A reputable medical answering service will have protocols in place for emergency calls. Based on your specifications, they can either directly contact you or your on-call staff, or route the call to the nearest emergency room. Make sure to discuss and establish these protocols when you sign up for the service.

Conclusion

The decision to invest in a medical answering service is a multifaceted one that impacts your patient care, operational efficiency, and even compliance standards. The advantages clearly indicate its value not just as an operational tool but as a strategic asset for healthcare providers. Don’t compromise on quality when choosing an answering service. Your patients expect the best, and so should you.

Ready to elevate your healthcare service to the next level? Contact us today at 800-450-9045 or sign up online to find out how our HIPAA-compliant medical answering service can help your practice grow while ensuring the satisfaction and safety of your patients.

Use Answering Services

Ready to view  medical office answering service pricing, or are you ready to move forward? Sign up online or call 800-450-9045 to discover how we can provide you with an affordable and effective HIPAA compliant medical office answering service to serve you, your staff, and your patients and callers.