Archive for the tag 'answering message service'

My Search for a New Doctor’s Office.

November 16th, 2008

I’m in search of a new doctor’s office to be my family physician. I have had so many issues with the current doctor I am seeing. Every time I call in, I get recordings that say, they are busy and can’t take my call. I have to leave a message on an answering system and wait and wait and wait to gat a return call. Sometimes they don’t return calls and I have to call back again, still reaching a recording just to leave a new message. When I do get a live person, they are so short and quick; they don’t seem to have the personal touch I want in a doctor’s office. I get so frustrated trying to get a prescription refilled. So, that’s why I’m in search of a new family physician.

I’ve called lots of offices and talked to several of the front desk receptionist as well as the answering services attached to the offices. Believe me; I have called every office in my area looking for just the right one.

Well, I think I have found them. I called this one office and didn’t get a live person, but I did get an automated system that was so helpful. This virtual medical office receptionist actually made an appointment for me. The voice was so friendly and caring, I had the feeling the entire office would be the same way. I actually got a telephone reminder call from the 24/7 patient scheduling system.

I went to the doctor’s appointment and talked to the staff about the electronic system they had. They absolutely love it. One of the ladies in the front office says the 24/7 medical reception system is the best there is. It frees them up to do the hands on things that are needed when the patients come into the office. She said they do answer the phone when they are free, but when patient’s need care, that need comes first and the 24/7 backup receptionist is turned on the patients can receive the best of care. The care you receive is so important to the entire staff.

I found out that the system is set up to automatically answer the phone, make appointments and take messages for the nurses. The nurses really love the system too. They are able to have the automated system make the reminder calls for them, which does cut down on patient no shows. Believe it or not, a lot of people do forget their appointments and just a little appointment reminder call, really makes a difference. And you know the more patients they see, the more money is made. Happy patients lead to a happy doctor, which leads to happy staff members.

They also told me that next time I needed an appointment; I didn’t even need to call in. I can get online, which I am very comfortable with and make my appointments for the entire family. I can even request prescriptions refills on line.

The neat thing about this new system is it can separate my emergency calls from the regular ones, so I’ll get the quick help in my time of need.

I’m thrilled with finding a local doctor that uses this great virtual receptionist system.

Find Efficiency and Effectiveness in Virtual Answering Service

November 14th, 2008

Essential ingredients in your medical practice are your staff members. These individuals are the backbone of your office. They are what keep patients, paperwork and telephone calls moving in an orderly fashion.

In an ideal world, your medical staff would be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You are well aware of the fact that this is not possible. In those moments where the staff is pre-occupied with other tasks, you need a reliable go-to service option. Look no further than a virtual answering service.

Efficiency of Automated Answering Service

At times when you or your office staff is unable to take incoming phone calls, there is the risk of patient calls being dropped. You could turn to a live agent answering service. This type of service will simply take down the message information and move on with the day. The chance of calls and messages falling through the cracks between their service and your office is high. Patients will be left wondering when or even if your office will get their messages. The end result is lost productivity as your staff scrambles to fix everything that the live agent did wrong.

With a virtual answering service in place the end result would be significantly different. As patient phone calls come in, the service would determine the nature of the call. Based on a patient’s response, the phone answering service can distinguish between needing an appointment scheduled, needing non-emergency medical service and needing immediate medical attention. Each call will then be handled accordingly. Patients can breathe easy knowing their medical needs are getting the attention they deserve.

Effectiveness of Automated Answering Service

A live agent answering service is only as good as the person answering the phone call. Outside factors such as fatigue, illness, hunger and jam packed phone lines greatly affect how incoming calls are handled. A live agent service experiencing any one of these factors can equal misplaced or mishandled telephone calls. Patients on the other end of the phone are given the cold shoulder.

On the other end of the spectrum is the virtual answering service. It is immune to human factors like fatigue and illness. Crowded phone lines are never an issue. The service is skilled in handling multiple phone lines ensuring each and every call is properly handled. This service will provide a level of reliability that has your patients feeling respected and validated. An end result such as this will instantly carry over towards the way your patients view your service, your staff and your overall medical practice image.

There is a common misconception in the medical profession that patients want a live person on the other end of a phone called placed to their doctor’s office. While this may be true in some circumstances many patients simply want the call handled efficiently and effectively. This leaves them with the peace of mind that they are a valued asset to the doctor and the medical staff. Trusting this patient aspect to a live answering service agent is risky business. In the event a call gets lost or a message gets misplaced, patients will start to feel lost in the system. Give yourself and your patients the value each deserves with a virtual answering service.

Phone Answering Services Virtually Tend to Callers Needs

November 12th, 2008

Have you ever been placed on hold and forced to endure that horrible elevator music that is too loud and out of sheer frustration, you hang up or worse press ANY extension number just to avoid the dreaded silence of being forgotten on hold? Imagine needing an appointment with your doctor or medical practitioner and the medical receptionist places you on hold and accidently hangs up on you.

A virtual answering service can be the right choice for many business offices and particularly medical offices where appointment scheduling is the lifeblood of the practice. An answering service can relieve the stress of an overtaxed human staff and give them the peace of mind to look after the in office patients with the professionalism they deserve.

Many businesses insist that their employees always answer the phone regardless of the number of clients waiting in queue for assistance, never leaving a potential client waiting on his or her phone. Others practice the opposite theory of letting the calls go unanswered while they tend to clients/patients already in the office. Someone will always pay the price for not having a better call answering service policy in a professional office environment.

In the past, answering service technology was less than practical and full of bugs making it more frustrating for callers than anything else. Convenience over professionalism was acceptable to the public and the professional practice, however poor it was. Today the call answering tech expertise is without a doubt a vast improvement over what it once was and there are so many added features because of the internet and advances in telecommunications.

Answering services or an answering message service can now send out appointment reminders with a professional yet casual voice message that does not sound robotic but is natural. The human voice recognition software used is improving all the time, far more advanced from earlier versions. Appointment schedulers are automated so you will never lose an important call or infuriate callers.

A virtual answering service will save your business money and your current front office employees’ valuable time. Your professionalism will be enhanced by virtue of your efficient and respectful handling of all callers’ time. When you close your doors at night, you can feel good about your virtual answering service taking care of after hours callers and routing them to where they need to be. Your patient and client care needs well looked after by your answering service.

From an outside callers perspective you want to be sure your message is heard and acted on. You would like to think your call IS important to them just as the messages say they are. Your time is just as valuable to you as the professionals time is to them so you want to be treated with respect. An answering service that is quite functional, quick and concise, that continually proves its value to return callers is significant.

It would be business-savvy for any professional office to try out a demo of the automated answering services available as many offer free trials. You will always need a full time human employee to perform inner office needs, but in time, one can envision the entire reception-front desk staff being completely virtual.

The efficient after-hours answering service

November 12th, 2008

Many medical providers operate in industries and areas that require them to offer a 24/7 medical answering service. This can be quite challenging for some doctors, optometrists, chiropractors, dentists, and other healthcare providers. There are many issues that make providing an efficient after-hours answering service difficult. Hiring additional receptionist staff to provide a live answering service after-hours sounds great, but can be a practical nightmare.

Employees are costly. Additionally, some full time and part time employees require benefits. Employees are also real people with real emotions. Even good employees grow tired, have stress, and can be overwhelmed.

All of these live answering service challenges can potentially be overcome with a best in class virtual after-hours answering service. A virtual answering service use advanced technology to answer phone calls from live patients. It can effectively handle and manage appointment calls, emergency calls, and other common needs phone calls. A virtual answering service can multi-task and answer several calls at once. This means that patients will not be turned off by delays in setting up appointments in the evening. More importantly, it means that patients in an emergency do not have to wait for busy or slow live agents to connect them with a busy provider. The virtual answering service can directly connect an emergency caller to the appropriate provider.

There is more good news about the 24/7 medical answering service. Since it is an intelligent technology, the virtual medical answering service does not struggle with human emotions, stress or fatigue. It can work tirelessly, accurately, and efficiently, day or night. Though there will be a modest up front expense or a modest ongoing service fee, a virtual answering service requires very little to no ongoing maintenance. The ongoing expense and time involved in using and managing the virtual answering service is much less than it would be with a live agent.

Customer service has taken on a new meaning in today’s fast-paced and internet-driven environment. People still do appreciate a quality, personalized service experience. Sometimes, only a human can respond to the unique needs of a given customer. However, busy people also would prefer the efficiency and accuracy offered by a virtual answering service if it means they could avoid time consuming phone calls, being left on hold, being treated abruptly by a stressed employee, or the like. The virtual after-hours answering service can meet these demands of the busy person and is an essential part of operating a well-rounded customer service medical practice with costs and resource requirements that are doable from a business standpoint. The virtual answering service is also a great friend to the live agent who can focus time and attention on more demanding patient needs and completing laborious insurance paperwork and filings.

Virtual Receptionist Features to be Considered

November 12th, 2008

The evolution of the Internet has opened up new avenues in medical practice management. The concept of a virtual receptionist has made it possible for medical practitioners to streamline their operations and cut costs. Doctors who have opted to deploy a virtual medical receptionist either as a backup to their front-end reception or as a replacement for a human receptionist have reported increased efficiency and greater productivity in their work which has translated directly into improved care for the patients and better earnings for the doctor.

If you are a medical practitioner, whether established or still growing you need to be aware of the real benefits that a virtual assistant can offer you. If you are planning to invest in an online receptionist service then you should be aware of the features to look for.

  1. Compare virtual receptionist products and services for cost and feature benefits. Basic features to look for include scheduling, canceling, and conforming appointments; reminder calls; call transfers; new patient registration; 24 X 7 availability; and maintenance support by the company. Cost of course is a basic consideration and you should evaluate services based on fee requirements; hidden costs, if any; and any hardware or software installations to be done on your part.
  2. Check the success rate in handling calls. Your virtual receptionist should have at least an 85% success rate in call handling. Make use of the demo services offered by the provider to get a feel about the quality of interactivity offered by the system. The virtual receptionist should be such that in the event of a communication failure the call gets transferred to a live receptionist.
  3. The virtual medical receptionist that you opt for should be customizable to your specialty as a health-care service provider. It should allow you to set restrictions for the day and duration of appointment; enable the patients to set their own appointments; include any special information from the doctor to patient, when required; and the rule-based online scheduler should work in sync with the virtual receptionist.
  4. The virtual receptionist should be adept at not only managing existing patient accounts but also adding new patients to your existing base of patients. Find out whether the process for registering new patients is smooth or cumbersome. Your virtual receptionist is the first point of interaction for a new patient and its imperative that the system creates a good impression of your service.
  5. Data and service migration should happen smoothly without loss or corruption of data. This is an important consideration as often data migration comes at a cost of time and money. Ideally, the migration should happen right the first time itself with zero data error. It’s a great help if the virtual reception system is compatible with MS Office tools like MS Excel.
  6. Consider ease of use for the patient as a top feature requirement. As in any business, retaining an existing customer is far easier than acquiring a new one and your virtual receptionist should also be able to double up as CRM tool for you. It should be able to handle multiple calls simultaneously so that patients are not put on hold; multiple language support should be present; and self-service features such as scheduling and canceling an appointment by a patient should be made available.

On Keeping Good Medical Technicians

November 11th, 2008

I run my own Internal Medicine practice and most of the time I feel like I am flying by the seat of my pants. Luckily, I have been fortunate enough to find a few, loyal and efficient medical technicians. They are hardworking, great at handling the charts (well electronic charts now), taking vitals and eliciting demographics. As a group, however, they drew the line at answering phones. For as good as they are, I had to respect that. I wasted quite a bit of time and money hiring and firing front desk receptionists. Without getting into the details, it turned out to be impossible to keep someone posted at the receptionist desk full time.

I also found that I was spending way too much money on a live answering service. Since I am the only physician in my practice, having a 24/7 medical answering service is critical. However, even though I was paying for a live answering service, there was no attempt made at triaging calls. Emergent calls would take just as long as prescription refills and I had to sort through them on my own. While I wish I could say that I thought of using a virtual answering service de novo, I was actually told of the program by a close friend and colleague. The software has turned out to be a boon for my practice.

Imagine having a 24/7 medical answering service that will separate the emergent calls (and forward them immediately to the correct emergency contact), from the urgent calls, from the ASAP calls, from calls that can afford to wait. Fantastic, right? This next feature was the clincher, for me. It turns out the same program will allow my patients to either call my office to make a doctor appointment or go online and use the web-based doctor appointment scheduling system. My schedule was kept online and new appointments could be made 24 hours a day. It even included an appointment reminder system to help me keep track of things during the day and week.

When I implemented the program the response that I got from patients was surprising. Almost universally, my patients were very enthused by the idea of being able to call or log on and do their appointment scheduling directly. I’m not sure why they felt like they could not do this before, but some patients said that they felt like they had access straight into my calendar. Some described the process as self-service patient appointment scheduling. Having this “power” was important to many and I think I have actually a little better patient follow-up. The other positive is that with this virtual receptionist, patients are never placed on hold, a feature that is very important to patients.

I was initially worried that calling my office would seem like calling a bank or the cable company. In actuality, the phone answering service uses a natural, interactive dialogue which closely mimics a medical receptionist. The other big issue was security. This is a web-based doctor appointment scheduling system after all and I am very strict about the safety of patient information, even demographic data. I simply would not use a program that did not fully adhere to HIPAA regulations. The program I eventually decided on was fully secure.

I now have a small group of very happy, hard-working medical technicians, a fully automated appointment scheduling system and physician answering service and I am actually saving the money!

Online Medical Answering Service: Your Solution to Medical Practice Management

November 11th, 2008

If you are running a successful medical practice, chances are that your receptionist is just too busy to be fielding calls all day. She may have too many other responsibilities. This is where an answering service can come into great use. Especially, when it is one that is answered by an automated medical receptionist.

Do you ever wonder how much business you lose because your office is closed or your staff is too busy to answer the calls? A medical answering service can pick up those calls that otherwise would have been missed or placed on hold forever. Isn’t this just what your medical practice is missing?

What a Medical Answering Service Can Do?

The days of a live agent answering service just passing along messages are comming to an end. An online virtual medical answering service now offers many more benefits in the age of modern technology. It is equipped with the ability to discern between emergency and non-emergency calls. It can immediately forward your emergency calls to any number that you specify, book appointment for your patients, and make timely appointment reminder call to them.

When a medical answering service is answered by an automated receptionist, it can perform many of the same tasks that your receptionist usually does; an automated receptionist is an additional, or back-up, receptionist working for you at a fraction of the hiring cost.

An automated medical receptionist is can engage in natural language dialog with your callers using advanced speech recognition technology. It usually has the ability to perform the following tasks:

· Talk to your patients to determine their need, forward call to emergency contact.

· Search and Set appointments that match their date and time preferances.

· Make daily appointment reminder calls

Such a multi-tasking frontdesk helper allow your staff to focus on other important tasks. For exmaple, they will have more time for patient care and medical billing.

Virtual medical answering service functions 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. It is extrodinarily dependable in performing routine, repetitive tasks that are not particularly enjoyed by human staff. Computers are not susceptible to the weaknesses inherent in humans like, fatigue, health issues, bad days. A medical answering service answered by an automated medical receptionist is a virtual work horse that does not tire and does not need any time off. If this sounds like something your medical practice may benefit from, then you should investigate the benefits of having a service like this. After all, with so many obvious benifits to your medical practice, what have you got to lose to try one?

Is It Time To Automate Your Medical Answering Service?

November 7th, 2008

When you run a physician’s practice, it is critical to have an answering service. The problem is finding one that is both affordable and reliable. When I left residency and turned in my hospital pager for the last time, I was happy almost to the point of tears. I had just endured three years of hammer-pages, three years of 2 AM pages about “dangerous” lab values like a BUN of 4 (yes, the concern was that it was too low!), and three years of constantly changing the ring style so that I did not get physically ill every time I heard a familiar chirp. Leaving that pager was a truly happy day.

Then I began work in a medium-sized practice. I still had call, though it was nothing like residency. Now it seemed that the medical answering service was my new nurse’s station. I would get all sorts of call. While they were not BUN levels (thankfully) they were never properly triaged and they did not always arrive in a timely fashion. Some emergent calls could have been handling more quickly while some routine calls could have been deflected.

When I could finally afford to move to my own practice, I just assumed I would purchase the same physician answering service as I had used previously. I never imagined that an answering service could represent such a large fraction of my overhead. When I combined this with a medical receptionist, medical technicians, a physician assistant, etc., it became difficult to justify the cost and yet I had to have an answering service.

Thankfully, as I was lamenting to a colleague she told me about software that would allow me to automate my phone answering service. I was a bit apprehensive at first but I soon realized that there are programs that are HIPAA compliant (always important) that function as a fully automated 24/7 medical answering service. As I began to look into the available products, I found that for less than I would pay a medical receptionist or a live answering service, I was able to get an automated appointment scheduler, appointment reminder system, and a 24/7 medical answering service. Moreover, this service is 24/7 online, working after hours, during lunch breaks, during coffee breaks and did not need time off for vacation.

Since I was trying to grow my solo practice, if this was going to alienate or anger patients, there is no way I would use it. I would have to break down and spend the money for a medical receptionist and a live answering service. What I found was an answering service with natural dialogue that was very easy patient-friendly. Patients could instantly arrange a time to see me right over the phone based on availability in my schedule. They did not need to talk to me or a medical receptionist and the process was faster and more reliable than the old paper appointment log.

A few programs are so sophisticated that you really do not need a front desk receptionist at all. The programs are reliable, inexpensive and can handle multiple calls simultaneously so your patients are never on hold. The major advantage of this (besides happier patients) is that emergent calls are immediately forwarded to the appropriate emergency contacts.

Before you renew or begin your contract with a live answering service, I highly recommend that you consider the various automated or virtual answering service programs. I think you will find that they are less expensive and in many ways superior to a traditional physician answering service.

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