Medical offices have the responsibility of planning for disasters. After all, these are among the most important resources in any life and death situation. A medical call answering service is capable of handing numerous different types of disasters and of keeping lines of communication open during those disasters. This is accomplished through solid planning and the use of technology in effective ways. It also comes with experience, as the operators and other staff at medical answering services are familiar with the field and have appropriate training in dealing with medical emergencies.
In a disaster where communications are affected, a medical call answering service will still be able to maintain availability. This is done by having redundant systems of communications available. For instance, the call center will have service provided by multiple carriers, including both land-based and satellite communications options. This makes certain that the call center is not taken offline when most other means of communication have been compromised. Of course, natural disasters in your area will not affect a remote business, which means that your call service will still be up and running and able to offer information to your patients.
A medical call answering service will also be staffed by masters of relaying information. Everything and anything can be used, but text pagers are still one of the best options for medical professionals. Text messages are simple, fast and tend to be delivered much more quickly than other forms of communication. With professionals operating your office's phones, you can rest assured that you'll be informed if you're needed and that you won't be bothered with calls that don’t require your intervention. The operators at these providers are trained in HIPAA law and other important areas of patient information handling.
The workload faced by healthcare workers can oftentimes be nothing short of exhausting. When patient care is taking up all of the time of an office staff, a medical answering service can be of great value. It offers offices the opportunity to get the high-quality service their patients expect without having to hire and train a new employee. Because the answering service has no other tasks put to them than answering the phone, they are never distracted from their duties and patients can always get through to a helpful, professional person.
A medical answering service differs significantly from other businesses that provide telemessaging and answering services. The businesses that offer these services are staffed by professionals with experience in the medical field. This allows them to handle complex requests and to differentiate between those calls that require the assistance of a doctor and those that do not. They are also quickly able to identify emergency situations and to let people know when they need to get to help or to have help get to them fast. For patients, the answering service is another resource that they can use to receive faster and more effective care.
A medical answering service is a very specialty business. They don't work with other businesses, in the best instances, and this means that other, less vital businesses aren't competing for the ear of the operators you contract. It also means that your patients have the advantage of never being sent to voicemail without first speaking to a live human being. Oftentimes, the fact that there is always someone there to speak with is a great source of peace of mind for the patient and that may result in fewer calls, but ones which are more purposeful for doctor and patient.
HIPAA training is a necessity for any medical call service. This law encompasses a great deal of the obligations—and liabilities—that any medical service carries in the service of their patients. Without proper training, a medical answering service can put their clients at real risk. There are severe consequences for violating a client's privacy and for handling information incompetently. With a good telemessaging service, you can be certain that your patients, and your business, are safe from the consequences of improper information handling and transmission.
HIPAA training is not the only part of a medical answering service's obligation to their clients, however. The staff must also be able to communicate effectively with patients without violating this law. This means that they have to understand when a patient has a genuine emergency, even if the patient isn't aware of the fact. A potentially deadly drug interaction, for instance, may be caught by a nurse practicing telephone triage, and that call would be routed directly to the doctor, or the doctor contacted, before any other actions are taken. Medical telephone services are definitely businesses that owe their clients the ability to take care of emergent situations.
Aside from HIPAA training, medical answering professionals usually have some communications expertise and have many tools at their fingertips. These professionals still use text pagers for the most dire emergencies. Despite all the technological advances in recent years, these are still among the most reliable types of communication on the market. There are numerous other ways that these professionals can keep in touch. Doctors can also call in directly and get information from a trained professional who understands what a doctor needs to know and how urgently they may need to have that knowledge communicated to them.
As medical businesses grow, patient loads tend to pick up fast. These patients entail a diverse selection of needs and it's important that they have access to help when they need it. A medical call center is a good way for growing clinics and practitioners to handle an expanding patient load. These services are staffed by professionals. There are numerous economic advantages to contracting these services, many of which are mirrored in other outsourcing solutions. With a good service, it is also possible to maintain communications in a disaster.
A medical call center can handle a very heavy volume. If you hire a receptionist for your office, you'll be saddled with the expense and the time involved with their training and wages. These call centers already have trained staff. These aren't only trained operators, but are individuals experienced with working in the medical field, as well. Your business won't be responsible for HIPAA training or any of the other costly aspects of getting a new employee hired into a clinic setting. Of course, these businesses also operate on weekends and holidays, which is a significant advantage for both patients and their doctors.
There are call centers which advertise to medical professionals which are not call centers at all. A professional medical call center is a complex business in its own right, and operates a lot of very expensive technology. They have redundant communications systems at their facilities that allow them to stay live in the event of disasters. In the event of a disaster in your area, they can use a multitude of different types of communication to keep your business operating and your patients cared for. If it's time for your business to take this next step, be sure that you hire a professional organization.
A physician answering service, above all other things, should make the delivery of patient care more efficient. Without this, the answering service really serves none of the other purposes to which it can be put. A good answering service is staffed by professionals who are trained in how patient information needs to be handled from a legal and ethical standpoint. This allows patients to be comfortable with the operators and for the doctor to concentrate on their patients without having to worry about covering themselves legally and where reputation is concerned.
The physician answering service will, for those patients who call, be the public face of the doctor and their clinic. This, obviously, calls for professionalism. The best service providers have very well-trained staff who can handle everything from telephone triage to routine patient information requests. Because they're not located at the office, all of their attention can be directed toward the caller, which ensures that the patient always feels cared for. This, of course, makes it easier on the rest of the staff as the patient has confidence in their abilities. Of course, it also helps with word of mouth advertising among patients.
A physician answering service should always be a professional organization. There are plenty of small, sometimes one-person operations that market themselves to medical professionals. These companies usually don't have the technological or human resources to provide service up to the level required by medical offices. They also may lack in professionalism where HIPAA law is concerned and where patient rights are concerned. While outsourcing is a good option for medical operators, you have to be certain that you're outsourcing to a qualified company. After all, there are definitely occasions where lives may depend upon your making a good decision!
A medical call center is a good option for busy offices. Clinics, family practitioners and specialists all face very high patient call volumes at times. There need to be people on the other end of the phone who understand what constitutes a legitimate emergency and what does not and which callers need to be forwarded to emergency resources. A good call center offers all of this by providing personnel who are trained for these situations. These call centers are not the same as those that handle the needs of regular businesses.
A medical call center should only handle medical businesses. The reason behind this has to do with priorities. Anyone with experience working at a medical facility knows that some calls need to be put off in favor of others that constitute genuine emergencies. A skilled operator can juggle such calls with those that are only routine questions or concerns and can determine which need to get through and which can leave a message or simply be handled by staff other than the doctor themselves. This makes it much easier for the staff to concentrate on patient care and to not waste their time on receptionist duties.
A medical call center can also help a clinic or other medical facility to always have its best face forward where customer care is concerned. In many cases, patients who are experiencing anxiety will experience even more if they're forced to leave a message on a voicemail or to make repeated calls to get through. While these patients can be bothersome, at times, they also sometimes have legitimate needs that need to be addressed. Addressing those needs requires personnel who are familiar with the workings of medical businesses and who can be valuable parts of the team.
The amount of information technology available at present makes the ability to filter information a valuable skill. A nurse telephone triage service performs this task for medical clients. The combination of medical knowledge, experience in routing communications and the calm and purposeful mind that comes with competence are what make these services work. For a busy medical office, these services can be of great use. They are among the services offered by telemessaging companies that work with medical professionals and these services can help an office to deliver better and more efficient patient care.
While any call to a business is assessed in terms of its importance by a receptionist, performing this task for a doctor's office requires a professional, such as a nurse telephone triage operator. What makes this problem over the heads of regular operators is that every client who calls is likely to feel that their needs are more important than ever other caller's. This isn’t selfishness, of course, it's just fear. A triage expert can route such callers to whichever service they need, whether it be a doctor at the practice they called or an emergency medical service that can pick them up.
When doctors need to be contacted, the nurse telephone triage service can get in touch, fast. These services oftentimes use text pagers for such communications, as these devices are among the most reliable available. Because they have medical expertise, these operators can communicate the most vital information to the doctor and make certain that they have an accurate picture of the situation when they call in or come in to the office. Such services offer patients excellent service while saving the medical offices that contract the service both time and money. The arrangement is thoroughly a win/win one.
For a medical office, being out of communications range is not an option. Patients sometimes have emergent needs, of course, but they also sometimes fail to understand that their emergencies need to be handled by a hospital and, in error, they call their family clinic. In situations where there is heavy call volume or when there is a natural or manmade disaster ongoing, a good answering service can help make sure that such patients get the help they need and, if their needs can be handled by the clinic, that the patient gets through to you.
While there are plenty of answering services available today, not all of them are qualified to work with medical providers. An answering service that does work for those businesses needs to have personnel trained to deal with medical situations and, at the very least, needs to have personnel who speak the language of medicine. These are specialty operations that cater to medical offices exclusively and that have those right personnel on hand. They also have systems built into their communications design that make them reliable resources in the event of an emergency.
Because of the potential gravity of medical calls, an answering service that caters to these businesses needs to have redundant systems built into its communications infrastructure. This means telephone service from several different carriers, the availability of satellite connections, power generation equipment and the capability to forward calls to another center if there is an emergency with the main office. These companies provide the type of reliable service upon which medical offices depend and, for the patients at those offices, they provide excellent customer service. When there is an emergency, you can be certain that these companies will handle the situation correctly and effectively.
A brick and mortar call center building takes literally thousands of dollars to create. Not only do you have to rent a building, set up dozens of computers, and network every system together, but you also have to pay each employer’s salary. This is simply not an option for the average businessperson who is struggling for profit day by day. If you are the entrepreneur, then you should get that money! Why share it with a team of agents if you don’t have to?
Believe it or not, you can keep the profits for yourself while also hiring a team of staff members to handle your incoming calls. You can do this with a live answering service, which is equipped to handle as many incoming calls as your company gets. You don’t have to just hire one virtual agent—you can get a whole team of agents ready and trained to work.
This is a great way of streamlining your business while also adding that “personal touch” to each and every call. You can create your own scripts for your virtual agents and be instantly notified of new messages coming in via text, phone, email or pager.
Instead of paying a flat rate for these services, you simply pay for the call center service you use in a certain period of time. This is one of the most difficult aspects to manage when it comes to a large office staff. How do you dismiss a salaried employee when there is no work? Problem solved with a virtual call center. You hire the service when there is increased activity (around the holidays or the New Year) and then lay low during the summer months (or whatever season is slow for you).
Some of the top corporations in America have already invested in outsourcing and virtual call center services. You, as your own boss struggling in this difficult economy, should likewise cut corners. You can cut corners without hurting anybody! Sounds like a plan.
Some call agencies might tell you that their team follows official “HIPAA training.” (HIPAA can also be spelt HIPAA) What is HIPAA? No, that’s not hippo…or HEPA, as in an absorbent cleaning filter. HIPAA stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. Back in the 1990s, the government ordered some healthcare reform and one of the biggest issues was the quality and conduct of medical or healthcare specialists.
Just because someone is not a licensed doctor does not absolve him or her from being a part of the medical or health profession. HIPAA standards specifically apply to privacy rules, including confidentiality agreements. This means that all operators who handle these sensitive files must use discretion in communicating with the patient as well as with others about confidential matters. Imagine if such an indiscretion happened and the patient was embarrassed or slandered in public because of such an error!
When a company states that endorse HIPAA training, this indicates that they exercise confidentiality clauses from their employees, and also back up all files in a safe and discreet way. Under these standards, the company sees to it that all telephone conversations and all voice mail messages (or digital content) will be backed up in a safe and off-site location. HIPAA standards, in short, means that all state and federal laws are strictly taught and required to be followed by a company’s employees.
An outsourcing firm would be careful to train their employees to respond correctly in emergency situations. This will protect the client company from breaking HIPAA protocol—a mistake that could easily result in a million dollar loss. Call center workers should be experienced and knowledgeable in HIPAA training. These standards are usually recommended for professionals, hospitals, community clinics and managed care organizations. For more information, contact a call agency that advocates HIPAA.
Have you thought about a physician answering service? If you are a physician in private practice, then no doubt you can appreciate the importance of streamlining a business. It’s not practical to bring on new staff members when you barely have enough income to support two or three salaries. Your instincts are good—a call answering service would be a good idea. After all, patients do appreciate a warm human voice and will respond to a living person better than they would to an answering service.
A physician answering service is not just an ordinary answering service. This is a special call center feature that lets your patients speak directly to a trained staff that is equipped to take medical calls. These patients know the best way to respond to patients. They handle medical and dental calls exclusively, so that there is no break in concentration. For example, a call center agent answering phones for a doctor, and for the Home Shopping Network, could involve a “conflict of interests” of sorts.
These workers are trained to respond to people in a medical context, and above all, to be prompt, polite and professional. This is the next best option to talking to a patient yourself. In addition, medically trained call center agents are also familiar with HIPAA training procedures. These are very specific guidelines that protect a patient’s privacy. Failure to adhere to HIPAA guidelines could lead to a lawsuit.
A physician answering service is more expensive than the typical call center agency, but it is still affordable and, most importantly, customizable as to your company’s telephone time. In other words, you will not be charged a flat rate—you will only pay for the service that you receive. For more information on the benefits of a medical answering service, contact an answering service agency today!
A medical call center is not just another outsourced firm of call center workers. This type of agency provides a medically trained staff. You might not appreciate this feature until you actually experience the bad side of call centers. Imagine the worst call center agent you have ever spoken to. Remember that one, with that guy? All right, now try to imagine this setting in a medical context. What if you were having a panic attack or a heart attack? What if there was a crisis involving medication?
Try to put yourself in the mind of the patient. He or she is already suffering from the ordeal and doesn’t want the additional stress of dealing with an improperly trained non- medical call center agent. Unfortunately, due to the popularity of outsourcing work in this day and age, bad call center service is prevalent.
It’s one thing for a phone company or a cable company to provide a bad customer experience. We sort of expect these people to be at “bottom of the barrel” when it comes to high quality phone service. However, in a medical context, you absolutely cannot afford this problem!
You want your practice to be associated with positive response. You want to let your patient know that he or she is valuable. You want referrals. You want your clients to know that they can come back to you at any time. In order to do this, you do need to use a qualified medical call center agent company.
You cannot rely on kids that have barely trained a few weeks to take care of your most pertinent medical cases. Do not conclude that the cheapest call center service is the best. You owe it to your clients to provide a fast and accurate response to all health-related questions.
Sometimes a medically trained staff is not enough. If you are a doctor and are constantly communicating with patients who depend on you for life and death matters, you cannot take chances with amateur services. The communication process between doctor and patient is imperative. This is why in some cases a nurse telephone triage is your only real option.
What is a nurse triage service? This is an agency that provides registered nurse assistance to patients. These workers are not just call center agents—they are nurses who are trained to respond to medical emergencies. They are often asked to provide triage health advice to both patients and caregivers. Private citizens, recovering patients or nursing facilities might find a nurse’s words very comforting and informative.
There is a big difference between a nurse telephone triage and a medical call answering service. The latter does train employees to follow HIPAA guidelines and to respond in a positive way to patient’s concerns. Unfortunately, unless such a worker is directly conveying a doctor’s words, he or she cannot provide medical advice. Unfortunately, when patients call their doctor on the phone, they usually want just that. They want to be told what to do—not simply to “wait for the doctor.”
In cases such as this, it might better serve the doctor or the clinic to have a trained nursing staff on-hand ready to take calls. Hiring a full nursing staff can be very expensive. For most privately employed physicians or small clinics, this is not an option.
With nurse telephone triage services you only pay for the services you use. You pay for the time the virtual nurses (who are registered and legally able to give medical advice) spend with your patients. This is a great way to show your clients you care without breaking the bank, or breaking your back!
Natural disasters—they are everywhere! We have seen both Haiti and Chile suffer extensive damage from earthquakes in recent weeks. It seems as if every land has its own type of disasters and disaster recovery to contend with in this generation. Even here in America, we are not free from worry. Earthquakes ravage the west coast, while tornados hit in the southern plains area. Blizzards freeze Colorado while hurricanes threaten Florida. Only one thing is for sure in this day and age: you can never predict the magnitude of a natural disaster!
As grateful as you will be to stay alive after a natural disaster strikes, you must also give some thought as to your possessions and your professional business; all of this is known as a disaster recovery plan. If you run a company then you already know the importance of customer satisfaction. Unfortunately, your customers don’t know or appreciate the fact that a tornado is tearing through the local neighborhood. Someone a half a state away can’t expect to know that you’re trying to survive a flash flood.
All they are thinking is, “Boy, what lousy customer service!” Indeed, natural disasters can wreak havoc not just on property but also on business in general. Such an event could easily close down your office for weeks and send 50% or more of your customers down the drain right along with the excess rain.
A disaster recovery service allows you to field in-coming calls to a professional call center that is conveniently and virtually located. With this feature, you will no longer have to worry about missed calls or lost customers. You can receive all of your messages just moments after a natural disaster strikes. Life goes on after a disaster and it moves fast—move right along with it! For more information, talk to a disaster relief agency about this service.
If you are a doctor by profession then you are all about weighing the pros and cons of any situation. Let’s discuss the advantages of a medical call answering service. The first advantage to speak of is that of convenience. You well know that in this business that communication between the patient and the doctor is essential. However, you cannot possibly be in the office 24-7. (Though some patients certainly think you should be!) Instead of letting them wait, you can provide prompt patient assistance through a call answering service.
Another advantage to consider is that of economics. It is far less expensive to hire a virtual answering service than to hire a team of employees. You can streamline your business, while at the same time, providing a service to your patience. You don’t have to worry about raises, bonuses, overtime, sick days, insurance or vacations. With a medical call answering service, you don’t have to worry about dismissing a secretary when her services are no longer needed. There is no responsibility here—just a professional contract. You pay for the services when you need them.
Lastly, there is something to be said about the quality of a medical call service. When the workers are trained to handle medical calls, they provide superior patient assistance. They are able to provide specific directions to keep the patient calm and in good health until you can personally return the call. Using a lower quality service could result in poor patient-doctor communication, irritable patients, mistaken advice, and even HIPAA violations, which as you know, can be very costly.
You owe your patients the best quality of service, even if you personally can’t be in the office every minute of every day. For more information on a medical call answering service, contact an answering service and ask for medically responsible employees.
Does your company really need an answering service? Why would you want to invest so much money in hiring new staff members when you can just order a fancy new answering machine? Come on, who doesn’t love a voice mail message? Actually, very few people do. Wouldn’t you know, the answering machine craze of the 80s and 90s is over. People no longer respect machines. Who’s to blame? Probably those awful “automated systems” that the phone company uses to screen calls.
In any event, rest assured people do not like voice mail machines. Unless you are a major corporation that can afford to keep people waiting, it is not advisable—all the more so if you are a new or growing business. Customers want a human voice to talk to. They want to share information and ask questions of a real, living person. At the very least, they want someone who can feign a bit of empathy and compassion.
This is how you ultimately make your sales—by connecting with your customers on an emotional level. An answering service gives your company that warm touch that is sorely missing in automated machines. We human beings enjoy the Q and A and the back and forth of a conversation.
Of course, hiring a new staff just for personal interaction is not cost-feasible for most businesses. You really only have two options—be personally available at every minute of every day (or get your family to answer the phone when you sleep) or hire a virtual answering service to take your calls and record messages for you. Customers do not notice the difference. They are happy to talk to any living person. Rest assured, customers will feel a connection to your company right away if the person they talk to seemed nice and interested in their concerns. This is marketing 101 for the new age—always make it personal!
Despite what they always said about Johnny-Five—no, he wasn’t really alive. Machines are not alive! Herein lies the flaw of the answering machine (aka the voice mail service). It is impersonal. It makes a new customer feel three feet-tall. After all, what does it say to a person to hear, “We’re sorry…due to so many new people calling us we are unwilling to answer the phone right now.” If you had that attitude in dating, you might not get very far in the game of life! Now enter the option a live answering service.
This system works because in order to sell your services and products you need to connect with your audience. You need to let them see the real side of you, the human side. It makes buyers feel better about their purchases and about the dealer or merchant they use. When customers are happy, they come back for additional services. They refer friends and acquaintances. When they are unhappy, you will probably never know—because they never come back!
A live answering service provides this human interaction. It lets your callers converse with someone while you take care of other business. It’s not very reasonable to say, “I personally am available 24-7.” Yet, that is what some merchants do, and unfortunately for them, they get calls at 3 AM in the morning that they have to take. A live answering service gives your customers that much needed human voice, an actual person that responds to important phone calls. At the same time, this telecommuting technology gives you a much needed rest.
You can get your new messages instantly via text messaging, voice mail, email, pager or phone. Your customer will probably never realize that you have “outsourced” your calls. For all they know, you have someone working in the office all day long. What matters is that you made the personal connection. This is what a live answering service offers today’s entrepreneur.
What is the big deal anyway? Why is there such a big difference between a medical answering service and a regular call center agency? You may have to experience the difference to truly understand. Let’s put you, the doctor, in the place of a typical customer. How do you think your conversation would be handled? Let’s say you have a medical crisis. You are out of medication and need to talk to a doctor right away.
Suddenly a charming Indian voice comes on the line and explains in a dry and almost perfunctory manner that the doctor is unavailable. Despite your objections, the other person merely repeats script and grows increasingly agitated. By now, you’re fuming. You can tell this person doesn’t know anything about your condition or about medical practice in general. Rather than blame the Indian fellow, you’re going to place blame on the doctor for being so cheap. If only you had hired a medical answering service!
The truth is, bad customer service really isn’t the customer service agent’s fault. If a person is not trained to handle medical calls, then the entire situation is just a disaster from the start. Rest assured, hiring a cheap call center with low-level employees will quickly turn your patients against you. Patients not only want a comforting and warm voice to confide in—they want to be told what to do.
A medical answering agent is trained to handle medical calls for dentists, doctors and other physicians. When you purchase this feature, you can be confident that your clients will be treated with respect and will be given accurate advice. The best thing about a medical answering service is that it’s not expensive. You only pay for the service you receive. This is a form of outsourcing work, but a more effective type of work.
A physician answering service does not just offer superior quality and a personal touch; there are also other features that will help your practice. Consider a few of the more interesting options available. First off, the operator taking your calls will have your contact information. In the event of an emergency, you will be contact by phone and at the phone number you provide to the company. An operator will easily be able to give office hours, business address and any other basic information.
Another convenient feature of the physician answering service is that of text messaging. You can have important caller information sent to your pager, PDA system or cell phone. This feature is compatible with most types of carriers. You will have a voice mail service and can listen to the operator summarize all messages that your patients leave. You can receive email messages that review the contents of the call. If the situation merits (by your request) you can have the operator contact you by phone directly. A physician answering service can also deliver messages by fax.
The best advantage of this service is the ability to screen patient calls. Naturally, a doctor or a nurse does not have a lot of time to spare in a typical day. The more simple calls are filtered out, (but still addressed in a compassionate way) the more time the medical team has to devote to issues at hand.
The operators that answer your phone calls will have access to your office information. This is whatever information you want to make accessible. This is the best way to screen your calls and expedite your busy day.
If you ever have a problem with your physician answering service (whether a technical issues or a call quality issue) you can talk to a supervisor. You can provide specific information on the incident and request help. This entire process is customizable. You can be sure that your patients are cared for because you make every decision.
Not every business needs a medical answering service but a medical clinic or a hospital would certainly be an exception. This is a great way for a doctor or nurse to respond immediately to patients even when they are not in the office. Needless to say, a patient forms a very deep attachment to his or her doctor. A doctor guides his or her patient through numerous difficult episodes and experiences. There is a level of trust here that is built over time.
When a doctor uses an answering service, he or she communicates with the patient, personally and quickly. A patient is more likely to be satisfied talking with a secretary or doctor’s assistance than leaving a message on a machine. A doctor does not have to add to his staff when he uses an answering service. He does not have to pay overtime to an employee. The doctor simply allows the service to take over and returns a call when convenient.
This concept gives the patient exactly what he or she wants: the attention of the doctor and a human voice that will address immediate concerns. The doctor is now reachable at night, in the early morning, even on weekends and holidays. Yet, the establishment never has to pay extra because services will be provided on an “as needed” basis.
Options for this answering service are customizable. You can have voice mail, text messaging and paging services installed to inform you of new messages. You can even connect with an operator to speak to patients directly in the event of an emergency.
If you want to be available to your patients but have limited resources, an answering service is your solution. Remember that these workers are not just trained secretaries but have experience and education in medical secretarial work. You lose nothing and gain your patient’s trust.