Busy medical offices often receive large volumes of patient phone calls. Physicians normally end up hiring someone to handle the calls while they and the other medical staff take care of patients. While this seems to be an ideal way to handle the problem, there is an alternate solution that many physician practices have come to rely on.
A live answering service could be the solution for your office. These companies are run by professionals who often have medical office experience and understand the daily functions of the staff who work there. Their job is to answer your calls and direct them according to your specifications. You could have billing questions directed to the billing department without employing someone inside the office to do this for you. Employee costs can be expensive, and when coupled with healthcare expenses, that amount is sometimes too great for smaller offices. A phone service is always available and does not cost as much as a full-time employee.
Another benefit to contracting with a live answering service is that patients have access to someone 24 hours a day. This is very important for after-hours calls and during the day. You can schedule the calls to be routed according to your office needs. For instance, if the office is very busy in the morning hours, you can direct the call-center staff to manage all the calls during that time only. This gives you some flexibility and control over the office communications.
When hiring a phone service to take your calls, it is important to make sure that they have experience and a reputation for quality service. Ask if they will provide you with references of companies that they are currently servicing, and if their specialists are trained in HIPAA compliance. It is important for them to understand that patient confidentiality comes first and that none of the information discussed with them should be passed on to parties not privy to that information.
During the first week or so of contracting with the answering service, pay attention to the different times of day that you are busy or the times when you will want to take control of your phone calls. Be sure to pass this information onto the service so that they will know your expectations.
With the right company and proper communication, a live answering service could benefit everyone that works in your medical practice.