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.
Naturally, whenever there is a major disaster or emergency, panic ensues. The solution to this problem is always to remain calm and take logical steps to save those who are in danger. The impact of a fire, flood or hurricane can be devastating. In fact, such destruction can put several businesses out of commission in just a few seconds. Thus explains the role of a disaster recovery service.
What if your business has been affected by a local emergency? Not only are you losing money because of damages but you are also losing money by the second due to downtime. If you depend on daily sales or have regular correspondence with your customers then sustaining communication is important.
With a disaster recovery service you can keep the lines of communication open regardless of what is happening with your phone line or the local scene. Even if your office is shut down and you are away from the office, you can have an operator take down in-coming calls. This can apply to a variety of scenarios including your own personal injury.
A superior disaster recovery service offers more than just a live operator and telecommuting technology. This company can also offer backup power for short-term or long-term outages, redundant and satellite phone lines from a variety of providers and emergency facilities on standby. A disaster recovery service should also have facilities scattered throughout the country so that it can bypass emergencies and reroute calls.
A disaster recovery service keeps you in business even when the elements of nature knock you down. This is an important part of staying in business, especially when your company expands beyond city or state borders. If you are going for a statewide or national audience, you must be prepared to meet the demands. Time is money…fortunately, disaster recovery saves you time.
It may be a difficult decision, choosing between a medical answering service and a regular call center, which seems cheaper at first glance. However, there is a big difference in these two types of services. While both options offer well-trained and experienced employees, only the former can guarantee efficient performance and medical experience.
If you are a doctor, nurse or another medical practitioner then you well know you have an obligation to protect your patients. While you cannot be available 24 hours a day and seven days a week, you still want to make your patients feel welcomed to contact you. A live operator will give the patient confidence that a human is listening and is concerned about possible symptoms or medication issues.
However, a live operator that previously worked with an airline company might not know how to take a medical call. The medical experience factor is one issue to be aware of when choosing between a medical answering service and a call center. Patients will have more confidence if they speak to a trained medical secretary that can address their concerns rather than just take messages.
Another key issue to consider in choosing between a medical answering service and a cell center is that of a dedicated service. When you go with a regular answering service, your patients may actually be competing against a variety of other calls—tech support, billing issues, plumbing problems and so on. In fact, the same operator may be addressing medical concerns while giving tips on overflowing toilets. It just does not seem fair to your patients.
With a medical answering service, you get employees specifically trained for medical calls, and that only take medical calls. Furthermore, a medical answering service does not outsource calls to India. These workers are trained in Health Insurance Probability and Accounting Act training as well HIPAA. This option is the smartest choice for a professional office!
HIPAA training refers to the HIPAA Act of 1996, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. This law was put into effect in order to protect health insurance coverage for workers and their families. In addition, the act also set national standards for electronic health care transactions and national identifiers. To this day, anyone that handles medical records must meet a high standard. This is true, despite the fact that not all providers must adhere to HIPAA rights.
However, to doctors who are concerned with patient health and legal liability, following HIPAA training and standard is an essential part of good heath care. These high standards improve efficiency in the office and protect patients’ confidentiality. An answering service that adheres to high HIPAA training standards proves that its employees are trained and ready for professional behavior.
In addition to agreeing to keep medical records confidential, the company might also strive to record and back up all telephone records, messages and voice recordings. (All federal laws on recordings are followed) This backup procedure is done for the protection of the doctor as well as for emergencies. The best companies also keep physical documents locked in a vault for a last resort.
When you use a medical answering service, not only do you get workers with HIPAA training, but you also get workers that have medical call experience. You can easily tell the difference between a HIPAA trained company and a substandard call center service. Furthermore, medical answering services deal only with medical calls. You do not have to worry about your patients competing with a variety of other industries.
If you are a doctor then you owe your patients the best client care available. You personally may not always be available but your office can be. Make your communication personal with a live answering service.
If you are a medical professional then you have probably already considered the option of a call center service. Is it a luxury or a need? You decide, as you review our list of five reasons to use such a service.
1. A call center service saves you money.
Instead of hiring another secretary or asking your current staff to work overtime, you can hire a live operating service for cheap. You pay only for the services you use. You can order services during your busy season and then reduce your operations for the winter.
2. A live operator service offers superior quality.
Call center employees, especially those with medical call experience, are dependable, react well under stress and are experienced in taking detailed notes.
3. A call center service has more features than an answering machine.
A live answering service does more than just take messages down. An operator can screen your calls and take down only the most important messages. In the event of an emergency, the operator will contact you according to your preference: by fax, phone, email, text or pager.
4. A call center service is always available.
Even if you hire a full staff, chances are, they are not going to work for you on holidays, sick days, nights and 365 days a year. When you outsource you are not paying an individual—you are paying a service. The service is available as often as you want it, even on holidays. With this option, there is never a sick day or a vacation to interfere with your success.
5. A call center gives the personal touch.
In this age of Internet supremacy and depersonalization, now more than ever before, it is important for businesses to connect with their clients on a human level. What profession, if not the medical profession, is dependent on human communication? Your patients are usually nervous or afraid when they call you. Having a human voice address their concerns can soothe them and leave a lasting impression of your practice.
A medical call center is not just an answering service. When a doctor has a practice, he has an obligation to get back with his patients as soon as possible. Some of these patients may be undergoing an emergency. Others merely want reassurances from the doctor that he or she is taking a situation seriously.
In the past, a doctor might have been content to add more staff to his/her team or ask for overtime. However, these expenses add up quickly. Before long, the entire practice is in jeopardy because expenses on salary are outweighing the profits. One solution would be to get an answering machine instead of a medical call center solution. However, many people tend to avoid machines. A human voice is preferable; patients prefer this and a live operator will probably get a more detailed message from the patient.
Another option might be hire a virtual call center to handle these issues. While this can work for some businesses, it is not ideal for a clinic, hospital or doctor’s office. Regular call center workers have no medical experience. Some workers may even be a lower quality in general, having only worked for cable companies or mid-level retail.
When you use a medical call center you get a higher caliber of worker. A medical operator is trained to handle medical and dental calls. In fact, this is the only type of call a medical operator will handle. They can react to stressful situations calmly and correctly. They can deliver you messages promptly and efficiently.
Working with a medical call center ensures that your patients never have to “compete” against retail customers or tech support customers. While these other issues may be important, medical calls very often involve life-threatening situations. Promptness and clear communication is imperative!
Contact a medical call center today and work with operators that are trained and ready for a fast pace work environment.
Several benefits can come from using a medical call answering service. First of all, these workers are highly trained in standard secretarial practices. They have training and experience superior to that of a standard call center worker. They are also trained in how to take medical calls for clinics, doctor’s offices and hospitals.
Answering services play an important role in our society today. In this age of technological prowess, the human factor is often times missing from the business world. When you use a medical call answering service, you give your patients the warm and reassuring voice of a human operator. Trained operators are also available at all hours of the day and night. This is of comfort for a patient that calls in the middle of the night worrying about new symptoms. They can talk to a human being who will deliver the message to the doctor by email, text, voicemail or phone if requested.
A superior medical call answering service has a hold time of 30 seconds, and can play back a customized message by a doctor or staff member. This is much better service than the average call center can promise, which is about two minutes. Another issue to consider is the burden put on by call center operators by their employers.
Some call center representatives have upwards of 150 clients and may have to take on a variety of businesses and industries. A medical call answering service only focuses on the medical profession. They handle medical calls and take only medical calls, leaving all those other callers to a call center. This reduces holding time, caller frustration and the risk of human error.
If you want to differentiate yourself from other clinics or practitioners known for treating their patients poorly, then invest in a medical call answering service. Show everyone that the welfare of your patients is a priority!
A nurse telephone triage service offers special features above an ordinary medical answering service—which itself is above a regular call center. Whereas a medical answering service answers general questions relating to doctor visits and other medical information, a nurse telephone triage service is actually capable of answering health questions.
A nurse telephone triage service is staffed by nurses. Nurses do more than just secretarial work. A nurse must be able to assess a client's health based on described symptoms. Not only must a nurse know how to recognize a patient’s condition in person, but he or she must also account for a lack of face-to-face interaction. Therefore, this worker must be highly skilled in medical knowledge, disease, hospital procedure and normal age development. In addition, the nurse must have excellent communication skills.
Not only must the nurse know how to respond in an emergency, but he or she must also have good listening skills and perceptive ability. For example, is a patient demonstrating vocal signs of the same symptoms he described? Or is she giving any non-verbal clues as to the condition, like anxiety, pain or confusion?
Nurse telephone triage services are also a step above health advice lines. The latter is mainly a community service and strives to answer general health concerns. The triage service does more than secretarial work. When a patient calls in, sometimes he or she wants more than just a live operator. They may want medical advice. This is not an appropriate action for a medical operator that only has experience in making appointments or filing for prescriptions.
A nurse telephone triage service is especially necessary in cases of a sick or sensitive patient. If the caller is susceptible to disease or infection, then a doctor must keep in close contact. If he or she is unavailable for a short period of time then a nurse may have to give lifesaving advice. This is the main difference and an important reason for you to order such a service.
Why should you use a live answering service when there are cheaper options out there? You may be wondering if a medical answering service is really worth purchasing, especially when compared to a voice recorder or standard call center service. Let us first consider these cheaper alternatives.
A voicemail service or an answering machine does not give your patients any one on one attention. Many people refuse to talk to a machine, while others will skimp on details. The simple reason is that these people want to speak to a live human being—one that seems concerned about their problem. A voice recording system is a lot cheaper, but this will not endear your patients to you at all. In the end, keeping your business is all about accommodating your patients.
Why use a live answering service when you can just hire another secretary? Because paying salary is expensive. Using an answering service is actually much cheaper than increasing your staff because you only pay for the services you use. You cannot very well tell a staff member to go home on a slow day. However, you can easily cut down on a live answering service in the slow season and save big money.
Lastly, why not simply use a substandard call center service like the phone companies and cable companies use? One, because you actually care about your patients and would not purposely subject them to inferior service. Two, because even conscientious call center workers outside the medical field could not be expected to take a medical call. Employees for a medical live answering service are taught how to respond to medical emergencies and other situations that involve medications and patient symptoms.
Using a superior live answering service reduces the risk of your patients waiting a long time or injuring themselves because of faulty advice. In short, this option lets your patients know that you care.
There are many reasons why the government put HIPAA laws into effect. As the owner of a medical practice, you are most likely quite familiar with the set of rules that govern certain areas of the health insurance process and patient privacy. In order to guarantee that patients are protected, medical caregivers must undergo HIPAA training.
Most likely, you have made sure that everyone in your practice is trained and up-to-date when it comes to HIPAA. To not train your employees would be to take risks with the complaisance of your practice, and you could face stiff penalties. While you have most likely taken great care to keep your staff trained, you may be overlooking one area of your business.
Many practices may not even think about their answering service in conjunction with HIPAA training. However, a responsible medical professional must consider this.
Keep in mind that, when a patient calls your answering service, they will share details with the operator. Additionally, the operator may have access to sensitive information in your practice. If you have not thought of this before, you could be opening yourself up to a big problem.
A quality answering service will be able to confirm that their operators have undergone HIPAA training. In order to make sure that your practice is compliant in all ways, you must choose a quality answering service that specializes in medical calls. You must also make sure that they understand the importance of HIPAA compliancy.
While a patient may never know the extent you went to provide them with the best service, you will know that you are providing them the very best possible. By choosing an answering service that requires HIPAA training, you are meeting the government’s requirements, and you are taking important steps to provide for your patients.
It is easy to make the mistake when choosing how to field after hours calls. It is easy to think that any call center is the same. It is extremely easy to look at the bottom line instead of considering services and options. However, not all centers are the same. Not all of these centers would even meet your expectations of quality and professionalism.
In order to make sure that you choose the right answering service, you must make comparisons and you must consider each before choosing the one that is right for you.
Privacy is a big issue with a call center. Do you know that many centers employ operators who work from home? Ask yourself, do you really want your patients’ information on someone’s home computer that could be susceptible to viruses or even prying eyes of others? You must find an answering service that offers the very best in privacy.
Training is also another big issue. Not all answering services are equipped to provide for medical calls. In this situation, their operators will not be properly trained in HIPAA laws, and they may not even be trained to field medical calls. You must choose a call center that specializes in medical situations so that they can guarantee HIPAA training for compliance.
Extended options are a final issue that you should consider. Not all centers will offer quality options. You may not be able to add on a nurse triage service, or you may not be able to have your messages delivered to you in the way you need them. If you choose a quality medical call center, you will be able to upgrade as you see fit.
When it comes to your patients, they need to be able to depend on their physician whenever they need to, not just during office hours. A big part of this is choosing the right call center on your part.
You own a medical company. You have to make a number of decisions for the company that have an impact on the finances, the patients, the employees, and basically all aspects of the business. One of these decisions is what to do with calls that come in after hours, and whether to choose a medical call answering service.
You must face the fact that you cannot schedule medical problems during business hours. You cannot tell a patient to only get sick between the hours of eight in the morning and five in the afternoon. Patients and their families become ill at any hour. Additionally, a patient may put off making the call because they cannot handle personal business during work hours. You have to be aware of the importance of being reachable after hours.
Here are three very real reasons to employ a medical call answering service.
1. To the patient, their medical issue is extremely important. If you treat it as unimportant, and that is what the patient will read from it if they cannot reach you, you will lose business. If you make sure you or someone is available at all hours, you will show that you care about the well-being of the patient.
2. Quality medical call answering services get you messages quickly and efficiently. Unless you intend to give out your home number, which would be extremely unadvisable, you need the answering service. If you use an answering machine or voicemail, you will not get messages until the next day, and a very important medical question may go unanswered for too long.
3. Much of your reputation and your new patient base come from word of mouth. It is no secret that people talk. If a patient is satisfied with the service and care they receive before, during, and after hours at your office, they will tell others.
A medical call answering service is very important for the professionalism of your business and the care of your patients.
It can happen, especially if you do not choose a quality live answering service. For a medical professional, it can be a disaster. A breach of patient privacy can mean, at the very least, a loss of patients, and at worst, a very large lawsuit. Most of all, it means that you will have let your patients down.
Many call centers do not offer the quality of service or privacy that you need. Have you heard of some of the security breaches that have happened with some of the big named credit card companies? If that can happen with them, just imagine what can happen with a subpar live answering service.
As a medical professional, you are required to provide privacy for patients. Their records and their information are not to be shared. Not only could you be facing legal issues if your patients’ privacy is leaked, but you will also lose your reputation among current and possible patients.
It is very important to remember that the live answering service that you choose will be a reflection of you. When a patient calls the service, if they have a bad experience, they will not equate it with a third party company. Instead, they will see the experience as a negative mark on your professionalism.
How can you avoid such situations? Choose an answering service that provides professional quality and highly secure ways to provide total privacy. Choose a live answering service that offers quality, trained operators who work out of a secure office. Look for services that specifically provide the utmost in privacy options through telephone calls and electronic communications.
What happens when an answering service lets you down? You let your patients down. You take chances in losing patients and even facing legal issues. Choose a professional, quality live answering service to provide the very best for your patients.
Choosing the right medical answering service is vital to the professionalism of your business. It is easy to forget since you know the difference, but patients will see the answering service as a part of your company. They will not consider that it may be a third party that they are speaking with. If they have a good or bad experience, they will feel that experience is a part of your business.
When you choose a quality call center, you are extending your professionalism past normal business hours, which is extremely important.
You cannot guarantee that someone will become ill during your office hours. In fact, it seems that many medical situations happen during the evenings or nights. If you cannot be reached or your make use of a subpar answering service, then your patients will most likely choose to look elsewhere.
However, if you choose a quality answering service, your reputation for going above and beyond will quickly spread.
In order to choose the best medical answering service, look for a company that offers the utmost in privacy software. When it comes to your patients’ medical information, privacy is vital. Also choose services that offer trained operators. Services that employ and train their operators can provide a much higher quality of service to your patients.
Finally, look for a company that offers good customer service in dealing with you. You will need to make sure your messages are getting to you in a timely manner, and you will need to know you are working with a company you can contact when you need to.
What happens when you find the right medical answering service? You will be able to offer a higher standard of professionalism to your patients. You will be proving that you are interested in the health and safety of your patients as well.
Just choosing to employ an answering service is a step in the right direction for any medical business. When your patient calls and hears a live person on the other end of the line, they will feel much more at ease. When they call and they only hear the recorded message of a machine, they will be unhappy, especially if they or their family is ill.
Obviously, an answering service is a good idea, but you can go a step further by choosing to upgrade to a nurse telephone triage. This way, instead of just leaving a message, the patient will be able to speak with a medically trained nurse to answer their questions.
Imagine this scenario that could become a very real situation. It is late in January, and the weather outside is quite cold. As a pediatrician, many of your patients are under the age of one. One such patient belongs to first time patients, a category that often may become fearful anytime their little one falls ill.
At eleven o’clock one evening, the young mother becomes quite frightened. Her six month old has been crying for hours and is running a fever. With influenza prominent and the cold weather making everyone ill, fears arise for the parents. They call your office and are able to speak to the nurse telephone triage.
Instead of leaving a message for you and waiting anxiously to hear back, the parents describe the situation, and get answers immediately. As it turns out, the little one is exhibiting the classic signs of beginning the teething process. The nurse is able to provide the answers to the parents’ questions and ease their fears. They do not have to make an unnecessary trip to the emergency room, and they do not have to spend a night in fear that their baby is very ill.
A nurse telephone triage can be an excellent choice to add to your medical answering service. Whether you experience the scenario above or something similar, there are bound to be situations where your patients can benefit from the service.
It may be hard to remember things from your patients’ perspective sometimes, and while you may be focusing on running your business correctly, it is important to put yourself in your patients’ shoes at times. When it comes to choosing a medical call center, it is very important to think from the patient’s perspective.
Instead of choosing the answering service that offers the best cost effectiveness, instead, think about what would be best to serve your patients. Imagine yourself as a patient and think of what you would want if you had to call after hours.
Think of this: you are a parent, and your little one is running a high fever. The doctor’s office has been closed for an hour. You do not know if you should go to the emergency room. Above all, you want to talk to someone who can help. What would you want from a medical call center?
If you are already worried about your little one and you call only to speak to someone unprofessional, you will not get the help you need. Worse, if you call and get an answering machine or you call and leave a message with the answering service and never hear back, you will become afraid and frustrated. Above all, you will become irritated with the doctor.
When patients cannot reach a quality medical call center when your office is closed, most likely, they are going to take this as a reflection of your professionalism. When it comes to health and medical concerns, patients need to speak with someone very quickly, or there is a good chance they will find someone else to visit.
Instead of looking at everything from a budget or business minded standpoint, consider what is best for your patients. Consider their story and put yourself in their shoes. You will soon find the kind of answering service you need.
Disasters can strike, and they generally do not come along with advance notice. Whether you live in a coastal town and the threat of a hurricane can bring high winds and flooding, or you live in an earthquake prone area that can send buildings tumbling, no one is immune to the possibility of disaster, and disaster recovery is vital.
During these times, your patients will need you most. There is more of a chance of injuries as they face the disaster. Ill patients may not be able to reach you as easily. Unfortunately, when the disaster strikes, it can affect your practice as well as your patients. In the most extreme cases, you may have to shut down your practice for a while.
In such a situation, where does this leave your patients? If they cannot reach you when they need you, they will either suffer in silence or they will have to turn elsewhere for medical care. You will lose patients and your practice could be severly affected.
If you choose to employ a disaster recovery option along with your medical answering service, you will be averting the possibilities of a very bad situation. Even if your practice has to temporarily shut down, your patients will be able to reach you. This is because the answering service will be available twenty-four hours a day.
In fact, these services will be able to take over all the regular calls, fielding your patient’s calls throughout the situation. You can even set up an alternative method to reach you so that your messages will get to you in a timely manner. You will be able to contact your patients as needed.
You cannot promise that your business will not face a disaster, and this makes disaster recover vital for both your business and your patients.
Consider the scenario from a patient’s perspective instead of from your perspective. When a patient calls your office after hours, there are basically three different ways the situation can play out. Consider each, and you will quickly see why choosing a physician call answering service is vital for your practice.
1. A patient comes home from work feeling not so great. They have heard that a nasty stomach virus has been spreading around and they fear they may be getting ill. However, as the night wears on, they become progressively worse, going from feeling bad to being downright sick. They begin wondering what may be wrong, so they call their physician.
When they call, they find themselves listening to the recorded message of an answering machine. The machine gives them two options. They can either call 911 or they can wait until the next business day. In the patient’s world, this is a big frustration. If they wait, they may become even more ill. If they call 911, they will face high emergency services charges.
Their trusted physician was not there for them when they needed, and they did not even get a physician call answering service.
2. Replay the story above, only this time; the patient does not even get an answer on the line. The phone rings and rings, and the patient’s frustrations continue to rise. This patient will most likely be looking for a new doctor.
3. The same situation, but in this case, the call transfers to a physician call answering service. The patient gets to speak to a live person and they know their message is sent to you immediately. They know that their physician will be caring for them no matter the hour.
It is easy to see which of these scenarios is best for the patient.
Providing a live answering service for twenty-four hours a day is the best way to make sure your patients are always able to get the help they need.
As a medical professional, there are certain things that become extremely important to you. These things take on a new meaning due to the sensitivity of the patients’ information.
For example, privacy is extremely important and you have to take steps to go above and beyond what is normally expected for privacy in all areas including the answering service. You cannot take risks with your patients’ privacy. In addition, your patients need to feel confident knowing that they can call in and not worry about their own privacy.
When you choose an answering service, make sure you choose one that offers the best in privacy. There are certain things you should look for in how the service operates to determine that you are getting the highest quality in privacy.
A quality service will make use of the best technology. Unfortunately, some services try to save money by choosing free options, like free webmail accounts to send and receive sensitive emails. They may also use free software programs for logging the calls, and these programs may not provide true privacy. A quality service will make use of high quality and truly private email accounts and software to guarantee that your information will not be leaked.
Some answering services try to save money through the operators. They may hire operators who answer the phone from their own home. This offers very little or no privacy since anyone in the operator’s home may see the information. Other services may choose operators located in foreign countries. Unfortunately, not all countries have the strict privacy laws that ours does. A quality service will hire full time operators who work in our country in a secure and private environment.
You do not want to risk a breach in your patients’ privacy. By choosing an answering service that will provide you the utmost in security and privacy, you will be able to offer the best service to your patients.
One of the most important things that you must consider when you are hiring a company to take phone calls for your clinic or medical practice is HIPAA training. The acronym stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. This training is something that answering service you are considering must have. It encompasses teaching the value of patient privacy as well as the legalities of the matter. Any high quality call center will ensure that their employees are well versed in this area. The law requires it although some companies may try to find ways to skirt the law.
Those individuals who have undergone the training are more likely to treat your patients with care and respect, which is very important if you want to keep your patients happy and their information secure. Knowing that they have gone through the HIPAA training will give you the peace of mind you need. Know that your patient's information is safe by hiring only a high quality medical answering service.
Of course, their training in regards to patient privacy is only a portion of the things that you need to consider when you are hiring one of these answering centers. You will also want to see where the operators are located. Those who hire employees who have a solid grasp of the English language should be on your short list of companies to choose. When you are working in the medical field, it is important that whoever is answering your calls is able to relay information from the patient to you with no language barrier.
Find a company that has a good reputation, a cost that you are able to afford, and HIPAA training for all of their employees who deal with patient information. For the sake of your patients, take the time it needs to find the best service.