If you answer calls in a medical office, read this!

October 18th, 2008

If you’ve been in to see your doctor during cold season, you’ve seen how busy the receptionists are answering phone calls. Appointments, cancellations and patients asking if they really need to come in. The receptionists aren’t the only ones who end up talking on the phone a lot. Nurses spend time consulting with patients who need a little advice or aren’t sure about their medicine.

I’m lucky because a close friend is a nurse and she’s a great help when I need a little advice. I usually call her with a question or two before going to the doctor, that way I know if I need to go or not. And she can help with some things by recommending a cold medicine or telling me what to avoid. She loves helping her family and friends that way because she’s so happy to be a nurse – she earned her degree and has been working in a medical office for two years now.

She tells me about her work sometimes when she helps someone feel better or meets an interesting person. But there’s a downside to working in a medical office that I didn’t think about. The one of the front desk receptionists puts people through to talk to her on the phone about their medical problems. Well, that’s what they’re supposed to tell her. Many go on to share their life story or some other problem, or go into way too much detail that she doesn’t need to help with their medical issue. It’s very time consuming. She has to do other tasks while listening to them.

She told me about one such conversation that lasted half an hour, and I vaguely remembered hearing about an automated system that takes calls like that. It separates out the calls so patients can make an appointment without having to talk to the front desk, or ask for medical help. It sends emergency calls right to the doctor.

Now my friend doesn’t even work at the front desk – she’s a nurse. But she still gets bogged down in calls sometimes. I’m sure the front desk receptionists do as well. There’s some calls that they need to take, but I’m thinking this service will cut down on those calls. Some people want to get in and out, taking care of their business such as making an appointment or talking to their doctor. Thinking about my friend, it’d give her more time to help patients in the clinic that need her. That, in turn, will speed up appointments so patients aren’t waiting so long. At the front desk, people can use the automated system, or receptionist, to take care of routine things while more urgent calls go through. It’d hopefully weed out those long calls my friend complains about so she could deal with patients who need live advice.

These services also offer an online appointment scheduler so people can make their appointments online or over the phone. Either way makes it easier and helps the medical staff. After I talk to my friend about having an automatic medical receptionist, she’ll probably want to recommend it to her office. I wouldn’t mind having the extra options at my doctor’s office either.

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