Despite the proliferation of advanced patient-doctor communication methods, such as web portals, telehealth apps, or text messaging, the phone remains the primary means of contact for patients requiring urgent assistance. It enables a real two-way, personal conversation, and makes it possible to obtain immediate assistance.
Every phone call brings you one step closer to your existing patients and provides an opportunity to attract new ones. However, practice workers often fail to offer adequate assistance over the phone as they lack time to answer all calls.
Here are three examples of real-life situations that are frequently experienced by healthcare providers. Professional phone answering services can help you address all of them, and deliver a consistent high-quality patient experience.
It’s estimated that by 2025, the US will have to hire over 2.3 million new healthcare workers to meet the increasing volume of patients. The healthcare industry is struggling with a persistent shortage of workers, both, medical and non-medical. As this happens, practice owners and hospital managers are gradually realizing the value of outsourcing.
There are several services, tasks, and operations that can be easily outsourced by medical facilities to free internal resources for their purposes and reduce the overall HR expenses. Call answering is one of them.
Hiring an affordable, specialty call answering provider will take the burden off your overworked staff and alleviate the impact of understaffing in your practice, whether temporarily or on a permanent basis. When your personnel is sick, on vacation, or otherwise unavailable, all incoming calls will be answered in a professional manner, and patient requests will be appropriately handled and forwarded to the medical personnel if required.
2. Daytime call overflow
Healthcare practices and hospitals frequently deal with large phone call volumes. While a typical healthcare provider receives 53 inbound patient calls per day, this number can get significantly bigger in busy periods.
With these figures in mind, it’s virtually impossible for your staff to respond to every single phone request. And failure to do so can have serious implications for your business. Putting your patients on hold doesn’t solve the problem, either. As research shows, long hold times are the source of frustration for 66% of consumers. And the last thing that your healthcare facility needs is upsetting its patients.
The common issue of call overflow can be easily resolved with medical answering services. Whenever your lines are busy, calls will be rolled over to an answering services provider who usually answers them in up to three rings. All phone calls are processed by live operators who use a customized script to handle each call exactly as you wish. With an answering service, you won’t miss a single call, and your patients’ needs will be addressed in a reasonable time and professionally.
3. After hours support
Many facilities, especially small practices, cannot afford to hire full-time staff with rotating shifts to pick up phones day and night. Instead, they choose from a variety of options to provide phone services to patients outside of standard hours of operation.
Some practices forward all calls to doctors on duty. However, this solution raises issues with most medics. Physicians don’t want to be disturbed with office matters in their private time unless it’s urgent, while patients tend to call outside of business hours with trivial concerns that don’t require immediate assistance.
Another solution is to install an automated clinical communication platform for voice and text messaging. The system records patients’ inquiries and forwards them to the correct clinician on-call. Although this is a highly efficient solution for after-hours patient communication, it doesn’t address the issue of patients reaching out to physicians with minor requests. More importantly, those systems remove all human interaction. As such, they are prone to errors and glitches, which results in poor customer experience. What’s more, 83% of US consumers prefer dealing with a real person when they need guidance. With those systems, patients don’t interact with a live person, which makes their experience suffer further.
Medical answering services take the best of these two worlds. With medical answering, patients are greeted in the same way as in automated platforms but have an option to talk to medically-trained call agents who then decide whether to page the on-call physician or not. To keep track of doctors’ availability, an answering services provider maintains an on-call schedule. Usually, it is delivered by a medical practice or hospital in advance, but it can also be updated on the fly to include any ad hoc changes. The answering service is available 24/7, providing patients with round-the-clock accessibility.
Specialty answering services offer an affordable, efficient way to address the above real-time situations in any healthcare facility. They offer 24/7 support to patients and allow healthcare staff time to focus on quality care. Outsourcing call answering enhances patient satisfaction outside of regular business hours and during the day, and helps your personnel become relaxed, happier, and more productive.
Whether you’re in charge of a hospital or running a small practice, The Doctors Answer can take care of all your call answering needs in every situation.