Archive for November, 2008

Psychiatrists need after-hours call answering service

Neil Kokemuller November 30th, 2008


It is not just a practical issue, in some places; it is a legal requirement that psychiatrists who operate a licensed practice offer an after-hours call answering service. Given the unstable nature of the minds and emotions of some psychiatric patients, medical providers need to enable those that are on the edge to have access to emergency care through an after-hours call answering service. Psychiatry has been known as a stressful occupation. Some practitioners can become overwhelmed with taking on the emotional and mental burden of their patients. However, the cost-effective and high-performing support offered by an excellent call answering service can be a tremendous relief and allows the provider to focus on vital patient care.

Mental and emotional problems do not always build in patients at ideal times. Some suffer with trouble after hours and need immediate help. Though a psychiatrists may not immediately be available to assist, and realistically cannot always be expected to, the virtual answering service can direct a caller to the appropriate medical provider in an emergency. In fact, a virtual answering service is typically more accurate and efficient and emergency call processing than live receptionists. Many patients of medical offices can share stories about calling for urgent care or emergency needs and having their message forgotten or delayed. Mental emergencies do not have time for delays and the immediate processing of an emergency call is vital.

Truthfully, for many psychiatrists, a 24/7 medical answering service is an important business requirement as well. Many psychiatry clinics cannot afford to pay the expense of hiring someone to answer phone calls when the practice is closed. Plus, an after-hours employee would likely be working without supervision, and must deal with stress and fatigue that can come from working late nights or overnight shifts. The call answering service does not suffer from the human limitations people face and its cost is modest compared to a live receptionist. A virtual answering service can be purchased with a moderate up front cost and a good one typically requires little to no ongoing maintenance. This means the practice gets to use the advantages of the call answering service without dealing with the disadvantages of an after-hours employee.

Patient relationships are important to psychiatrists. Patients of psychiatry clinics need to feel that they are valued by the practice. This means that whenever a need arises, the patient knows he or she can count on the psychiatrist or the call answering service to help resolve the issue that has come up. The after-hours answering service is not just there to provide help in emergency needs. Many patients simply appreciate the ability to schedule appointments after hours when there is no concern about a busy signal, being left on hold, or dealing with an irritated receptionist. A good virtual answering service can take on multiple phone calls at once, assist callers with appointment scheduling, and even deal in multiple languages. Whether it is for legal or practical reasons, a virtual answering service is a necessary investment for any psychiatry practice.

Optometrists rely on after-hours answering service

Neil Kokemuller November 30th, 2008


Like many other medical providers, optometrists cannot afford to miss out on opportunities for scheduled appointments or follow up visits. Unfortunately, many clinics can also not afford the costs to employ someone to answer phone calls 24/7. The amount of demand and emergency needs that might come up are rarely enough to justify another employee who requires labor and benefits expenses and management. There is another great option now for many providers to meet the practical, and sometimes legal, needs for an after-hours answering service. The 24/7 medical answering service is a virtual answering service designed to fit the gaps that optometrists have in service when there is no other practical option.

Though most optometry clinics are not open after hours, many patients in today’s busy environment want to schedule appointments efficiently without the hassle of dealing with a busy and overwhelmed receptionist. One of the main benefits of a top class virtual answering service is that it is able to manage multiple phone calls at once. Callers can typically complete appointment scheduling more quickly and accurately than they could with a receptionist.

A call answering service can do more than just help with appointment scheduling. Though emergency phone calls to an optometrist are not always common, it is important that the provider be equipped to handle any urgent eye care needs that may come up. Some patients may have trouble with recent treatments or care. Others may have other situations that arise at odd hours. The after-hours answering service can be neatly programmed to transfer emergency care calls to the appropriate provider as necessary. This is often more efficient than a live receptionist can handle an urgent care call in the midst of a busy day with patients and paperwork.

For budget-conscious optometry practices, a good virtual answering service can also be obtained with a modest up front cost and little to no ongoing maintenance. There are very little hardware and software demands and the service is easy to customize and use. The same can not always be said about employees. Medical receptionists are notoriously overwhelmed with multitasking. They become stressed and tired and can become irritable during important patient interaction. This is not good in the competitive eye care industry where patients have choices on where to go for care. The virtual answering service does not become stressed or tired. It is accurate and cost-effective.

A good after-hours answering service helps with many important business processes that can make or break an optometry practice. Even good optometrists must be fiscally responsible. An after-hours answering service helps with acquisition of new patients who may opt to call for assistance or appointment scheduling after work or when the office is closed. It is also vital for maintaining patient relationships. Clinic patients may not last long if they must deal with busy or stressed receptionists to make appointments. As is the case in any competitive arena, if one practice does not offer an after-hours call answering service, another does.

Automated Answering Service is Medical Office’s Best Helper for the Holidays

Dr. Hawkins November 30th, 2008


The holidays are a wonderful time for brightly colored lights, office parties and goodwill. It is also the time that your medical office receptionist and other staff members will want to take a big chunk of their vacation days off. They have worked hard for you all year round dealing with often chaotic office conditions. They need time off to rejuvenate and it’s the holiday season.

Holidays or no holidays, patients get sick and need to see you. You still need a medical office front desk receptionist, as well as other valued staff. Patients command attention. Appointments need to be made and tracked. Emergencies never seem to understand holidays. As the crunch comes, you have to juggle factors like who has seniority and who worked extra hours throughout the year to decide who gets what days off. All you really ever signed up for was to treat patients. This business management stuff is probably not your strong suit. I know it was new to me.

I would suggest moving to an automated medical receptionist as your answering service. This automated answering service will make appointments, answer phones, and coordinate many medical front desk issues. There are reliable remote receptionist services that can do reliably handle routine, but very important parts of your medical office operations.

Automated answering service will be any medical office’s best Helper, brought to you by modern technology!

No matter what you need to do in order to manage your office holiday vacation requests, a 24/7 back up receptionist can handle the appointment scheduling and keep your office running smoothly. You will have a virtual answering service, online appointment scheduler, automated reminder service and web-based backup technology to assist in those short staffed times. The right virtual medical office receptionist will give you the room to let your real receptionist take time. The programs work so efficiently and do so many office tasks that you may have to be reminded to schedule your medical receptionist for work after the new year!

A web-based doctor appointment scheduling service not only takes the hassle out of holiday vacation musical chairs, but it can be used all year round. Medical staff turnover is high in medical offices, especially the medical receptionist position. While you are trying to make everyone happy during the holidays, certain programs can lessen the load all year long. With mundane responsibilities taken off your medical staff’s shoulders, they are freed up to provide better patient care. Unhappy staff members project their displeasure onto patients; patients that may already be apprehensive about their care. When your staff is happy, they are better able to make patients feel welcome and important. Whether you realize it or not, patients that feel good about their care in turn, perceive you as a good doctor. While you may be the best doctor this side of Galen, patients must realize that you are a good doctor for it to matter. Happy patients mean healthier patients (and fewer lawsuits!).

When you have a medical assistant online all year, office staff can focus on patient care, the job detail that attracted them to medicine in the first place. Then by next holiday season, you will not be juggling so many schedules and maybe, just maybe, your remaining staff may not be so anxious to take time off!

HIPAA Security and Your Virtual Receptionist

Dr. Hawkins November 30th, 2008

There is no getting around it; every physician is required to comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act standards, better known as HIPAA. This means that every piece of medical information, everything from an email address to a cancer diagnosis, needs to be secure. You should be confident that your automated appointment scheduling service is up to the challenge. Whether you are shopping for a new virtual receptionist or you have an older web-based service, as a health care professional, ultimately if the service does not adhere to HIPAA standards, you are the one held at fault.

Although HIPAA standards were implemented to allow patients more access to their medical information, the standards for keeping medical information private and secure increased. At the same time the penalties for violating these standards were augmented and enforcement efforts were heightened. Today, all health care providers are responsible for protecting that all patient information whether it is a chart left on a counter or data including in an appointment scheduler.

Many virtual medical office receptionist services on the market will save you time and money by freeing up staff from mundane tasks. Some can perform self-service patient appointment scheduling, act as an automated appointment reminder and handle web-based doctor appointment scheduling. Pretty cool stuff, right? But with all of this is useless to modern medical practice if a patient’s privacy is not kept safe.

Potential threats of disclosure are very real and dangerous possibilities when using the internet to relay any private information. Every medical practice, regardless of size, must make sure all their patients’ identifiable information is secure at all times, and that includes what is online. This is why your virtual medical office receptionist service must be on guard against unauthorized privacy breaches or erroneous email deliveries.

Many internet users now prefer to do most of their personal business online, and those patients expect easy communication with their doctor’s office on the web. These computer savvy patients realize that they can demand a 24/7 medical answering service, online medical scheduling and automated email appointment reminders, all without speaking to anyone and from the privacy of their computers.

Self-service patient appointment scheduling and other online services are becoming a part of medical office support much like the move to an electronic medical record. The increased efficiency and convenience for both office operations and patients argue that these systems are here to stay. While staff and patients rave about these systems, your responsibility is to choose a 24/7 medical reception service that has built-in security and is fully HIPAA compliant. Your virtual receptionist service must be enabled to secure patient privacy in all its stored or electronically transmitted features.

So no matter what automated appointment scheduling program you decide to use, it must include standard HIPAA abuse and privacy protections. The service should also allow you or authorized staff to program access controls for each patient. Make sure the Virtual Medical Receptionist you already have affords total information protection. If it does not, you will need to replace it immediately. Your staff may need to be reminded of HIPAA compliance procedures from time to time, but the right remote receptionist service will always “remember.”

Cut down on patient appointment no-shows with reminder call technology

Aubrey Andrews November 28th, 2008

Would you like to reclaim over 18 wasted appointment times a week? Or help your practice as a whole reclaim cash wasted in missed appointments? If your answer is yes, then you should take advantage of the latest in telephone reminder software for your practice.

A survey by the Doctor-Patient Partnership in the UK showed that on average, a UK practice misses 18 appointments a week per GP, and a further eight with a practice nurse. This amounts to a staggering 10.5 million missed appointments over the UK alone, and at an average of £18 per consultation, this is costing the health service around £187m a year.

You can do your bit to reduce figures like this, and at the same time improve the efficiency of your practice in general, by employing the services of a virtual receptionist, and the automated appointment reminder service that comes with it.

Taxi technology

The technology used by telephone reminder services can already be seen in day-to-day life. Many among us will have phoned for a taxi at some point over the last few months, and received an automated phone call shortly afterwards (or not-so shortly in the case of some taxi companies!), telling us that the taxi is about to pull up outside. Unlike in the past, when this meant that the taxi had in fact only just left the depot, the automated nature of the call means that your car really is just around the corner, and that reminder call saves frantic curtain twitching looking out for the taxi.

Taxi companies use this technology just to make sure that their customers are ready in time, but for a doctor’s surgery, it can make sure that your patients turn up at all, or at least remind them to cancel appointments that are no longer needed.

Cost efficient

By reminding patients of their appointments, it can pay for itself in no time at all, you are able to end that revenue loss. Your automated appointment reminder offers call-backs or reminders which are sent out to your patients, and some services can even ask them to make a follow-up appointment or relay messages.

Despite the above statistics, most people do want to make their appointments; the one in 10 people who do fail to turn up are usually due to having simply forgotten about their appointment. Thus the automated telephone reminder service provided by a virtual medical receptionist is an ideal way to address this issue.

Virtual receptionist features

A multilingual appointment reminder service can contact your patients in their own language and leave messages in a clear and informative manner. The service can also detect the difference between human voices and answering machines, and will retry unanswered calls at different times of the day until it gets an answer.

The virtual receptionist logs all calls, attempts and results with efficiency and accuracy.

Reminder calls are just one aspect offered by a virtual medical receptionist, and such calls, in general, are received well and greatly valued by patients, so this part of the package can be a good way to get your patients familiar with a service which you might want to expand upon at a later date.

Psychiatrists find virtual answering service responds better in emergencies than live answering service

Neil Kokemuller November 26th, 2008


Today many medical professionals are required by law to offer after-hours physician answering service. This is especially important in psychiatry given the sometimes unstable nature of the patient. A good doctor answering service must be able to efficiently and accurately manage emergency calls in a pinch.

A 24/7 virtual answering service is not only a cost-effective alternative for practices that do not want to pay expensive live agent in call center to answer phones after hours, it tends to perform better than live answering service with regard to processing emergency phone calls.

Often, patients that make calls to a psychiatrist are looking for immediate help. Some of the most extreme cases of mental and emotional instability require that the patient have the ability to contact a professional in quick order. Unfortunately, agents with live answering service are themselves stressed and burdened at times with high call volum and tasks. This causes delays in responding to emergency needs, or a lack of empathy for a patient who may be dealing with emotional struggles.

A top virtual answering service does not bring the same human struggles and limitations that come with a live agent. A 24/7 automated medical receptionist performs consistently and reliably day or night, without irritation, stress, or fatigue. Instead of being placed on hold, left to wait, or forgotten about, a patient is efficiently and accurately transferred to the appropriate emergency care provider when a call is processed by the medical answering service.

What makes the virtual receptionist even more valuable is that it is much less expensive than a live answering service to employ and maintain. People are paid, receive benefits, and sometimes require, coaching, incentives, and other motivation. The virtual receptionist simply performs as it is trained to do with no questions, complaints, or inappropriate behaviors. A good virtual phone answering service can be acquired by a psychiatrist for a moderate up front cost with very little ongoing maintenance time and expense. It can be customized to meet the needs of the individual practice.

Emergency situations are not the only occasion in which the virtual answering service performs either. Live agents can only receive and handle one phone call at a time. A virtual receptionist can process multiple phone calls at once, separate emergency from non-emergency calls, and ensures that patients do not leave your psychiatry practice because they are ignored or inconvenienced.

A top of class virtual medical receptionist can assist patients with scheduling appointments as well. This is obviously a big plus for any medical practice where appointment booking is a major resource cost on front desk. Ultimately when we add up all advantages and benifts a virtual receptionist can deliver (lower cost, reliable consistant performance, appointment booking), it should be clear that it is a much better business solution against conventional call center live agent.

Online scheduler allows psychiatrists to focus on patient care

Neil Kokemuller November 26th, 2008


It is well documented with research that psychiatrists are among the more stressed and emotionally burdened professional groups. They work with clients that range in mental and emotional needs and sometimes find it difficult to not get caught up on the burden they bear in managing patients with such challenges.

Often though, it is the overwhelming process of managing the business side of the clinic that makes patient care stressful for providers. Many practices operate with one or a few receptionists. This means that the receptionist is responsible for appointment scheduling, answering calls, greeting patients and walk-ins, keeping files, and completing paperwork, along with any other office tasks. Turnover is high in medical receptionist positions because of the stress of multitasking. Similarly, providers must cope with constant hiring, training and managing of employees.

The online scheduler has been a great relief for both receptionists and psychiatrists, not to mention patients.

An online scheduler is an scheduling program that enables patients self-service appointments. This frees up the receptionist from having to manage this entire process and allows him or her to focus on more personal care or paperwork requirements.

Additionally, many patients prefer the ability to use web-based scheduling program if it means avoiding busy signals, being left on hold, or dealing with stressed-out receptionists who are sometimes helpful and sometimes not.

Automated appointment scheduling is extremely efficient and the best 24/7 appointment scheduling solution can be customized to fit the schedule and appointment parameters of each given psychiatry clinic. Online appointment scheduling also fits well with improved internet technology. Many patients may have Blackberry devices or other handheld devices that enable them to quickly and easily schedule an appointment, even on the go.

Efficiency is not the only advantage with an online scheduler. Patient relationships are important to the long-term business success of a psychiatry practice. With an appointment reminder software program, the patient’s data and email can be easily collected at the point of scheduling. This enables the provider to track patients and maintain a backup database with all patient details. Thus, patients that have not been in for a while can be contacted. Additionally, automated email reminders or phone reminders can be used to remind patients of pending appointments to reduce no-shows.

Web-based scheduling program is only going to grow in interest from consumers. Any psychiatrist can benefit from the value created by an online scheduler. Doctors today can chose scheduling program with great features such as new patient registration, automated telephone reminder and email reminder.

Modern scheduling program is not only excellent with regard to scheduling and maintenance of patients. It is also very affordable. A 24/7 appointment scheduling solution can be purchased with a moderate up front cost and requires little to no ongoing maintenance. Additionally, a good online scheduler comes with a database backup and advanced privacy features to protect the personal data share by your patients. Patients benefit from the efficiency attained in appointment scheduling. Receptionists are able to focus on important tasks. The psychiatrist is less overwhelmed with managing the practice and can focus more on patient care. Everyone wins with the online scheduler.

Respond to the High Turn Over of Health Care Office Staff

Dr. Hawkins November 25th, 2008

Your office hired an excellent medical front desk receptionist not too long ago. She had medical office superpowers that allowed her to answer phones, cater to patients, make reminder calls, deal with insurance paperwork and companies and rescheduled appointments.

Now she is gone.

Once again you are left with the prospect of advertising, rehiring, and training another qualified receptionist who may leave at anytime. Is there a solution to this all too frequent scenario? One alternative is to take your medical reception online.

A good online medical scheduler will streamline all of your essential office operations to allow you smooth transitions between office receptionists or assistants. Imagine being able to have your appointments scheduled, calls answered, and emergencies dealt with 24/7—even during under staffed periods. Well, it’s not a dream. You can get all of this and more with the right online medical appointment scheduling software program.

What can the right online scheduling program do for you? Well to start, you have a remote receptionist service. In or out of office hours, around the clock service is available to answer calls from your patients. Even if you are one of the fortunate ones and are fully staffed, the service can pick up the phone when your receptionist gets overwhelmed or takes her lunch hour.

If you do keep a full staff (you may not need to with the right software), an online medical answering service can free your staff up from the most trivial of office duties. For example, some programs can perform automated appointment reminders. This is something that staff hates to do and often forgets. Automated appointment reminders can cut down on income loss due to missed appointments.

A Virtual Medical Office Receptionist can triage urgent or emergencies by immediately forwarding calls to the appropriate contact number, unlike most human operated answering services. A few programs can actually differentiate a regular call from an urgent one. A feature like this will increase patient safety and will assure a timely response. Speaking of patient safety, make sure the software that you use is HIPAA compliant. Many of them are, but you need to make sure that patient information is secure.

Self-service patient appointment scheduling is available for patients online with online scheduler software. This is not only great for your short staffed moments, but also for the growing number of people who would rather do most things online, including scheduling their medical appointments.

Automated appointment scheduling programs include the ability to track statistics such as cancellations and no-shows. You can then pinpoint problem areas and make corrections. Even the best medical receptionist does not have the time or the skills to do this with the fill-in-the-blank paper schedule that you are probably using.

The best of these web-based doctor appointment scheduling programs are maintenance free and do not require hardware— the software installed in your office and administered remotely. Given the versatility of current medical appointment scheduling software at a fraction of the cost of full-time medical receptionists, it makes sense to automate well in advance of the next resignation notice.

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