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.