Archive for the tag 'answering message service'

Looking for an Affordable, Quality Phone Answering Service

December 8th, 2008


When I was growing up and my parents needed to contact our family doctor after his office closed, they picked up the phone and dialed him directly. Gone are the days of that personalized after-hours service and you will now be hard pressed to find a physician who easily hands over their personal contact number to patients…just in case.

Physician offices are understaffed, underpaid from managed care organizations, and overwhelmed by the medical and social needs of the patients they serve. Many physicians feel “chained” to their practice and work long hours each day. Sickness and illness occur twenty four hours a day, seven days a week and often can not wait until the office opens. Physicians and patients alike rely on phone answering service to receive calls from patients and relay messages to the on call physician. A quality phone answering service performs this function seamlessly, integrating itself into the workflow of each physician office that it serves. Unfortunately, affordability of these services is often a prohibitive factor as well as the human error that can occur when an phone answering service is used.

Common physician complaints about live answering services include:

  1. Messages from the service are relayed to the wrong physician on call, sometimes repeatedly waking up this person throughout the night
  2. Patient names are not transcribed correctly
  3. Answering service staff are not well versed in medical terminology therefore incorrectly relaying chief complaints or presenting symptoms
  4. Calls are not triaged appropriately, with non urgent calls being lumped together with more acute calls, putting physicians more at risk for medical liability
  5. Patients and physicians are kept on hold for long periods of time
  6. Front office staff receive an influx of sick patient calls for appointments during the first hour of the practice being opened (the busiest time) from people referred from the answering service
  7. Cost of answering message service does not equal the quality of goods provided

Besides receiving after hour calls directly and never getting a break from patient care, another cost-effective option is to invest in a 24 hour, 7 day a week virtual answering service. These services cost a fraction of what traditional answering services cost minus the human error factors mentioned above. They have the ability to separate urgent from non-urgent calls and immediately connect calls without bundling them and relaying them at specific intervals. You won’t hear patients express frustration at being on hold for too long with these services because they handle multiple calls simultaneously and can even make appointments for the patient calling in. How is that for decreasing your front office burden in the morning, particularly on a Monday and improving your overall medical practice management?

Many considerations have to be put into your selection of an answering service. These include cost, efficiency, degree of worry, and the ability to care for your patients most effectively when you can not be there 24 hours a day, 7 days a week…just in case.

The benefits of an automated virtual receptionist versus a call center live agent

December 5th, 2008

Call center is one of the most frequently heard complaints by small business owners or medical practices these days. And one of the most frequently heard complaints about call centers is that you can never make yourself understood.

Whether the company you are trying to reach has made call center outsourcing to Scotland, or Mexico, or Bangalore, having a simple conversation such as making, checking or cancelling an appointment can sometimes become a real hard task. This is no reflection on the person on the other end of the telephone, as doubtless anyone would have the same problem if they worked for a foreign company whose customers were based abroad.

Even if the call center is based on home soil, there is the potential obstacle of regional dialects and accents confusing both caller and operator, or human factors such as the receptionist having a cold, or a sore throat that may make them less intelligible.

However, the fact remains that in the current financial climate, a centralised medical answering service is a viable and sensible way to save your practice money. So why not cut out the risk of your patients not being able to make themselves understood through an automated virtual receptionist?

A virtual medical receptionist uses Interactive Voice Response (IVR) software to speak to patients naturally, in their own language, and in a neutral accent. If you have used IVR in the past, you should know that speech-recognition technology has come a long way in the last few years in terms of the quality of IVR based self-service systems.

But perhaps one of the greatest advantages of a remote receptionist service is that it has back-up options.

If your patient calls a live agent call center and struggles to make themselves understood, they have little option but to get frustrated with the situation, slam the phone down and hope that when they try again – if indeed they do ever call again – they reach a different agent who might understand them better.

There is no such problem with a virtual receptionist, as they have a process to go through in the unlikely situation that your patient cannot make themselves understood.

On the rare occasion that the IVR software fails to communicate with a caller, perhaps when their medical complaint prevents them from speaking or hearing clearly, a virtual receptionist will firstly re-prompt the question and ask the caller to try and answer the question again.

If this fails, it will give the caller the option of entering the answer via the telephone keypad – something which in nearly all cases will solve the problem.

However, if for some reason they can still not get their message across, the patient will be immediately connected to a live staff person immediately.

There is even a backup to the backup.

Every call that is made to a virtual receptionist is detailed and recorded on the instant call log.

This log files all the details provided (name, phone number, time of and reason for call (i.e. emergency, appointment or voice-mail). Therefore if a patient is unable to be connected to live staff, someone can always call them back to resolve the situation.

LOOKING FOR PHYSICIAN ANSWERING SERVICE? READ THIS FIRST

December 2nd, 2008


It is now official that the US is in a recession. It started almost a year ago and the effects have been felt far and wide. Big companies continue to downsize while the not so big ones are looking for ways of remaining afloat in these treacherous economic times. The medical profession has not been spared either and practitioners are desperate for ways of retaining their clients as they endeavor to attract new ones. With the profession growing every new day the competition keeps on increasing. It takes experience, professionalism and apt customer care skills to maintain a loyal client base. Things like a good phone answering service may seem minor but if poorly handled its effects may be disastrous.

During peak hours clients may try to call and fail to get through because the line is busy. To avert the negative effects that this brings to your business, invest in a reliable physician answering service. A good physician answering service will handle all the incoming calls with outstanding efficiency. It can handle many calls at the same time thus reducing the inconveniences of clients having to wait on the line.

In addition, good physician answering service can prioritize calls and have the urgent ones get to you without delay. This makes your services very reliable and patients will trust you to always deliver especially when they need you most. A 24/7 doctor answering service guarantees your clients attention any time of day or night at an affordable cost.

With the prevailing economic times, investing in a virtual answering machine will save your business in terms of operating costs because the service does not require any maintenance. As far as productivity is concerned, a physician answering service performs way better than a human answering service because it does not get tired. The service does not ‘sleep on the job’ and there is no need to supervise how it is working unlike with humans. This will free and save you a lot of time.

An automated doctor answering service relieves your staff of tiresome and boring tasks and enables them to engage in other more important activities. By investing in this service you will offer more personalized attention to your clients and thus building their loyalty. The clients will feel appreciated and will find no need of looking for alternative services. Well, you may ask, ‘but, I can get the same from a human answering service by hiring more staff?’

A live answering service can do but at a higher cost. Human beings cannot handle many tasks at once. Thus, your clients will have to hold on the line in case there are many incoming calls at the same time. Human beings can also be unpredictable and their reactions are influenced by the external factors around them. As much as they may try mistakes are inevitable and with the ongoing credit crunch some mistakes can prove to be very costly both now and in the distant future.

So, try out something new this time round. Find for yourself how an automated answering service can completely turn around your medical profession. As other businesses count their losses be smart and see your clientele grow. That’s one sure way of beating the credit crisis!

Call answering service preferred by dental patients

December 2nd, 2008

For many people, dealing with irritable receptionists, being left on hold, or wasting time trying to schedule a dental appointment is more stressful and painful than anything that could happen in a dental chair. Dental care, though obviously important and necessary, is something that many people do not often look forward to. In order to make the overall experience more inviting and less overwhelming, dental providers need to make the process of scheduling appointments and getting assistance less of a burden. The virtual answering service is a big help in making this happen.

A virtual call answering service can help dental providers, their staffs, and patients alike. Personalized customer service is still important to most people. In an ideal scenario, a person calling a dentist office would have his or her call immediately picked up, answered, and the issue resolved. Unfortunately, humans are managing the front desk process and are therefore prone to human limitations and emotions. Good receptionists can still become overwhelmed with in-clinic patients, phone calls, and completing laborious insurance paperwork. Plus, a human can typically only handle one telephone call at a time. This means that if one receptionist is running a front desk, one caller is going to be responded to at a time.

So, what do dental patients prefer understanding the ideal scenario described above is not always feasible. Most people would suggest that an efficient response to their needs is a close substitute to personalized attention in certain circumstances. A large number of calls to a dental practice relate to appointment scheduling or questions. A virtual call answering service can respond better in many cases to the need for efficiency. Whereas humans have limitations, a top call answering service is an excellent multi-tasker. It can typically handle multiple phone calls at once and assist callers with routine tasks such as scheduling appointments.

A 24/7 medical answering service also supports the need of many dental providers to offer an after-hours answering service. For many, paying a live agent to respond to after-hours phone calls is not cost-effective. However, a virtual answering service that requires a moderate up front cost and little to no ongoing maintenance makes perfect sense as a solution to help schedule appointments and meet other needs in an after-hours dental office scenario.

Surprisingly to some patients, a virtual answering service is also more often the more efficient method for getting immediate transfer to a provider in an emergency. Dental practices may not often deal with emergencies, but tooth pains and urgent dental care does happen after hours at times. Sometimes, people simply cannot wait until the next day or next appointment time to get their problems resolved. Whereas people can be tires or irritable in assisting with emergency care calls, a virtual answering service is… well… a machine. The 24/7 medical answering service is a great support for patients of any dental practice as it helps as a backup receptionist by day, and as an after-hours answering service by night.

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

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!

Psychiatrists love virtual answering service

November 25th, 2008

Many small to medium sized psychiatrist practices struggle with balancing fiscal responsibility with legal and ethical obligations. Though some providers in some areas are legally required to offer an after-hours answering service, many professionals cannot afford to pay someone to cover phones after hours. The labor and benefits expense is likely too much given the fact that no revenue is generated while the office is closed. The challenge then is for psychiatrists to meet the need of offering an after-hours call service without bearing the expense of paying someone to deliver it. What is the “answer”? A top of the line virtual answering service is the best solution to efficiently answer calls with only an up front cost and little to no ongoing maintenance.

A virtual medical answering service is a technology that is able to handle multiple phone calls at one time, while working with callers to set up new appointments and transferring them to providers in cases of emergency. Given the unstable nature of some of the patients that psychiatrists work with, the ability to be efficiently contacted when a patients is in dire situations is vital. Obviously, the provider does not want to sit by the phone all day. A virtual call answering service is typically more efficient than even a live receptionist at transferring emergency calls as it skips delays and interruptions.

Along with the fact that a virtual answering service requires little ongoing investment, it also does not struggle with human limitations. Psychiatrist clinics can sometimes be stressful places. Receptionists often deal with patients, phone calls, office tasks, and insurance paperwork. Juggling all of these can be stressful and exhausting. People may become irritable and inefficient when stressed or tired. The medical answering service does not face these limitations. It performs endlessly and tirelessly despite being able to take on multiple calls at once and never getting a break. Additionally, many virtual answering service solutions come equipped with a multilingual answering service capability in order to effectively respond to calls from a population that is become more and more diverse in culture and in language.

The business advantages offered by a best in class virtual call answering service are many. It is not only a good tool for use as an after-hours answering service, it can also function well as a backup receptionist. If the live receptionist is away from the desk, working with a patient, or on another line, the virtual answering service steps in to take the call. Although most people would prefer to talk to a live agent if one is readily available, they also prefer to work through a virtual answering service if it is immediate, effective, and hassle-free. It is better to let a great virtual answering service help your patients set up appointments than to make them wait on hold or face a repeated busy signal every time they call your clinic. The virtual medical answering service can improve appointment scheduling and reduce the stress for your live receptionist.

Improving Medical Practice Efficiency Through Automation

November 20th, 2008

When I decided to move to appointment scheduling software for my medical practice, I approached the decision much like I make other business or budgetary decisions: Get everything that I need for the best possible price. At first I found that many appointment scheduling programs had some, but not all of the features that I needed. I also realized that in order to make the process truly cost effective, I should integrate all of my needs into one software package.

I first needed to clearly define everything that I needed in a medical appointment scheduler. Since I run a solo internal medicine practice by myself, I am always making business decisions when I should be caring for patients. One area that I particular hated was the hiring and firing of my medical reception. I firmly decided that I needed a program that provided self-service patient appointment scheduling. This way, patients could simply call me or log on and schedule a time to see me.

Since I had decided to move to a web-based doctor appointment scheduling system, I decided that a package should offer an automated appointment reminder. If patients were doing their appointment scheduling online, I should be able to have an automated reminder for those appointments. Instead of having a medical receptionist make calls, I asked myself, why not get a package that would do it automatically and without error? I could then use it for keeping track of my schedule, as well. It seemed silly to go paperless for appointment scheduling and then waste paper by printing out my list of patients at the start of every day.

As I was researching the various programs and their features, I found that the level of sophistication in these programs was pretty impressive. The larger packages make it so that I do not really need to have a front desk receptionist at all. Some programs provided the equivalent of 24/7 medical reception. Now you may think that would be impersonal but it really is ideal. Patients hardly miss a live front desk receptionist because my medical technicians greet them when it is time for their appointment and begin intake right away. Since appointment scheduling is automated, the practice runs much more smoothly, and patients are not kept waiting nearly as long as they had been in the past.

Since I was moving towards automating just about every medical receptionist duty, I decided that should probably also consolidate my physician answering service into the same program. Why pay for a live answering service when I would have to manually input patient appointments into the now online appointment scheduler?

With all of these features, I realized that I was really asking a lot from a single piece of software or a single online service. I wanted a virtual receptionist, a reminder program, a 24/7 medical answering service and 24/7 patient scheduling. I may have been able to sacrifice one of these, if I had not found them all in a single package, but I had to have a package that was secure. In order to make the move to automated appointment scheduling, the entire program of service had to be fully HIPAA compliant. Regulations have gotten extremely strict over the past five years or so and I cannot afford to have fines or lose clinic days for a violation.

Now that I had this tall order to fill, I went online and spoke to colleagues to find out the best programs available and at the best price. The programs available today are very advanced and I was able to find one that provided all of those features and did so securely. When I considered the savings in terms of personnel costs and hassle, I wish I had made the move to automated appointment scheduling sooner.

Benefits of a Medical Answering Service

November 17th, 2008


An answering system is an important communication tool in modern medical practice. As a medical practitioner you should be aware of the features such a system can provide you with when shopping for one for your own practice.

  1. A good answering system will help you respond to patient queries in a timely manner and must be available 24/7. It should free you from having to depend upon live receptionists all the time. As a backup to live receptionists, you should be able to forward your business calls to your answering system on BUSY (when your line is taken), on NO-ANSWER (when you can not pick up a call), or IMMEDIATE (when you are off work or on vacation).
  2. Advanced medical answering system can help you acquiring new patients even on after-hours. Some system can engage in natural language dialog with callers, plays your voice instruction giving a list of accepted insurance policy. Allows caller to reserve a new patient appointment after they have heard your instruction.
  3. Many answering systems can make patient reminder call. In addition, if your see patients who speaks language other than English. You can make your reminder calls friendlier to them by using a phone reminder system that has multilingual capacity.
  4. A medical answering service enables you to attend to questions and messages even when you are short-staffed. The service helps you maintain a schedule and keep your staff happy so that they can enjoy their lunchtime, breaks, sick leaves, holidays, unforeseen emergencies, etc. It frees your staff so that they can attend to matters that contribute directly to patient well-being and your clinic’s bottom line.
  5. You can customize your medical answering service to reflect your specialty in the medical field – so whether you are an obstetrician, oncologist, or cardiologist you can get an answering system that reflects the significance, delicacy, and specific nature of your calls. Customizations such as managing and viewing multiple doctor schedules; defining individual appointment profiles and rules for telephone messaging, etc are also possible. You can also define the rules for managing emergency calls.
  6. You can gather valuable data on a variety of issues with the help of a medical answering service that can be programmed to ask questions to callers. You can inform patients on healthcare specific to their condition. You can subtly advertise your practice and refer other physicians to the caller.
  7. A medical answering service that helps you achieve HIPAA compliance in a systematic manner is a great asset. You can breathe easy about the privacy and confidentiality of patient records.
  8. Physicians depend a lot upon referrals to boost their medical practice. A medical answering service keeps them in the loop about new cases even if they are not present to receive the calls themselves.
  9. A virtual medical answering service that works 24 x 7 and can be deployed to do the shifts when live receptionists are not present is a great cost-saving investment. In the long term it works out cheaper than employing human receptionists. Such a service is free from the limitations regarding language and number of calls that can be handled at a time.
  10. If the medical answering service offers digital recording of all phone conversations, it places you in a better position to treat patients, tackle complaints, and maybe lawsuits from irate patients as well.

Thus, for a medical practitioner, there are many positives that come out of having a medical answering service to work in conjunction with the front-end reception desk managed by live personnel.

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