Five Ways an Answering Service Can Help With Patient Care
As a medical professional, time is your most precious resource. Of course, there never seems to be enough of it. As much as your patients might wish you were available 24/7, you do need to sleep and eat sometimes. Supplementing your practice’s staff with a professional medical answering service can help you provide the care your patients need without requiring you to be superhuman. Here are five ways an answering service can strengthen your practice.
1. Improve Availability
Most medical practices close after regular business hours, but people get sick 24/7. If your patients call your office only to be met with a recording telling them to call back later, they will feel more like products than people. This desperate feeling could translate into dissatisfaction with your practice.
A medical answering service can help you offer answers to your patients no matter what time of day it is. Some services can even dispatch emergency personnel or notify you of urgent situations, so your patients can always get help when they need it most.
2. Ensure HIPAA Compliance
While the greater number of communication options available today may seem to improve your availability, they can also jeopardize your patients’ privacy. Your 24/7 answering staff should always be aware of any updates to HIPAA regulations, because observing these rules is a fundamental part of patient care.
When you have a medical answering service, your answering staff will receive frequent training updates so they can comply with HIPAA regulations at all times. Some of the most important areas for your staff to observe include the following:
- Using encrypted files to transmit sensitive information
- Reaching you through HIPAA-approved communication platforms
- Awareness that sharing or selling confidential information is illegal
When your 24/7 answering staff is HIPAA trained, you not only provide better service to your patients, but you also decrease the likelihood of incurring penalties and investigations that could cripple your practice.
3. Organize Appointments
If you use your medical answering service to manage appointments, then you can improve the organization of your entire practice. Patients who do not receive appointment reminders are more likely to forget they were scheduled and to fail to show. Other patients do leave voicemails to cancel their appointments, but these messages are not heard in time to finalize the cancelations. When you can intercept these calls 24/7, you reduce the occurrence of appointment no-shows, enabling you to distribute your resources efficiently and serve more people.
4. Divide and Conquer
Patients call your office for all kinds of reasons–from scheduling conflicts to prescription questions. Some of these issues require medical knowledge, while others can be delegated to outside parties. Hiring a medical answering service to settle some calls and forward others to you is an excellent way to provide better service. Patients with administrative questions can have their issues resolved promptly, leaving your other staff free to handle more specialized queries.
5. Offer Perfect Etiquette
Your 24/7 answering service should not simply take messages; it should also represent the way you treat your patients. Anyone who calls a doctor after hours is probably not feeling very well, and people in this situation deserve to be treated with an extra touch of courtesy and warmth. When you pick a medical answering service whose core training goal is to treat people with respect, you can feel more confident that your patients are being treated well in your absence.
Comfort and Confidence
While being a physician is never easy, it is more rewarding when you know your patients are comfortable and safe. Making your practice available 24/7 with medical answering services by VoiceNation is a smart investment in your patients’ satisfaction. Call today to learn more about your options.