Archive for the tag 'automation'

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

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.

Respond to the High Turn Over of Health Care Office Staff

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.

Patient appointment reminder service is a dentist’s best helper

November 25th, 2008

Many dentists are turning to an automated appointment reminder software solution to complete all-important appointment reminder calls to patients. There are a couple main reasons that dental offices deliver appointment reminder calls to patients. The first is simply as a reminder call to ensure a scheduled patient does not forget an appointment or neglect to cancel in advance. This is an important service for the patient who may not keep a good schedule or one that does not offer the courtesy of a phone call in advance. Additionally, a telephone reminder can be used to remind recent patients to schedule follow up visits which are very common with certain types of dental procedures. Some patients will avoid or neglect to schedule a follow up after a procedure. The dentist wants to make sure everything is okay and repeat visits are an important revenue driver for the dental practice.

Surprisingly to some providers, an automated appointment reminder is often more efficient and cost-effective than a live agent telephone reminder, and many patients prefer the automated patient appointment reminder. Receptionists in a dental office can be stressed or overwhelmed with work which prevents them from efficiently completing appointment reminder calls. Sometimes, their irritable tone can even turn off new or existing patients. However, the automated reminder service does not grow tired or weary and it performs the telephone reminder consistently and accurately every time. Though not as strong on personal interaction, the appointment reminder software solution is just what the “dentist” ordered for many patients.

The automated reminder as an appointment reminder courtesy can allow the patient to confirm or cancel their appointment. This way, a cancellation still leaves time for the appointment time to be rescheduled, preventing lost revenue for the practice. Dentists rely on appointments to generate revenue and missed times are a burden. The phone reminder can also include notes directing certain types of patients (new, follow up, certain procedures) on arrival times, what to bring, and the like.

The telephone reminder as a reminder to the patient to schedule a follow up visit helps encourage ongoing relationships with patients and repeat business for the dental practice. Many patients just forget the importance of a follow up visit and get caught up in their day-to-day lives. A simple telephone reminder can be a great prompt to get them to return to the dentist office for follow up care.

The efficiency and accuracy of an automated appointment reminder is a great value for many dentists, especially given the moderate up front cost and little to no ongoing investment. It is not just the performance of the phone reminder program that is important to keep in mind. Employee performance should also greatly improve if they are freed from the burden of processing the reminder call program. Employees can focus on personal attention to callers and patient visitors, while also completing important insurance paperwork and other routine office tasks. Everyone wins when an automated telephone reminder is used in a dental practice.

Appointment reminder software drives optometrist revenue

November 25th, 2008

From a consumer standpoint, an eye doctor appears to be someone there to perform eye vision screenings, give us glasses, and manage our ongoing eye care needs. These are all elements of an effective optometry practice, but optometrists are also business people who must earn revenue and manage costs. One of the biggest drains on eye clinics is missed appointments and lost opportunities for follow up appointments. Though many clinics rely on appointment reminders to handle these challenges, the effectiveness of an appointment reminder is questionable at best given that they are sometimes missed or poorly delivered by stressed and overwhelmed receptionists. This is why many eye doctors are looking to a best in class appointment reminder software solution to perform daily patient appointment reminder calls.

Patient no shows are a burden for any optometry practice. Each scheduled appointment time is important to the clinic as completed appointments are the key driver of revenue for the business. When a scheduled time is missed or empty, the practice does not collect that revenue despite having to pay for the costs to earn it. Employees are still present, utilities and other resource bills are still paid. Thus, avoiding patient no-shows or last minute cancellations is critical. A top automated telephone reminder program is an efficient and accurate way to cut down on missed appointments. The phone reminder is not only an appointment reminder service, it also allows a patient to confirm or cancel an appointment. Earlier detection of a cancellation allows the eye clinic to fill that time with another patient, thus avoiding the lost revenue. The telephone reminder can also be a way to deliver quick notes about the appointment as it pertains to the patient’s situation.

Another important use of an automated telephone reminder in the eye care profession is to encourage patients to schedule follow up visits. When patients have treatments, new prescriptions, or other issues handled in an office visit, the eye doctor generally likes the patient to return for a follow up visit. This is a way for the provider to ensure everything is going well and it is also an important way for the practice to maintain an ongoing relationship with its clients. The phone reminder can be used as a tool to prompt the patient to schedule a follow up visit and it can give them specific reasons to do so.

The efficiency and accuracy of the automated reminder is what separates it from a live agent in delivery effective telephone reminder calls. People struggle with stress and fatigue and must also manage personalized situations with in-clinic visitors and complete tedious paperwork. The appointment reminder software can be programmed to perform reminder calls quickly, accurately, and in a way that works for the provider and patients. Some even come with a multilingual appointment reminder feature that allows the clinic to manage the telephone reminder with a multilingual population. Best of all, the reminder service is a moderate up front investment with little ongoing maintenance.

Cut down on human error with a virtual receptionist

November 25th, 2008

Human error has long been recognised as one of the biggest obstacles to improving productivity, efficiency and quality of service. Just look at the improvements inventions such as cash machines, vending machines and now self-service supermarket checkouts have made to our quality of life.

The same principle can be now be applied to a medical reception desk using an automated answering service.

Upgrade and improve

Whether someone is looking to improve on the service their front desk currently offers, or simply to provide an out-of-hours service for patients, a virtual medical office receptionist will be there to help with every need.

A virtual medical receptionist will man your front desk 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It can schedule appointments, provide natural conversations with patients in their own language, divert emergency calls to the correct number when necessary and even remind your patients of their appointments, thus slashing the costly no-shows from which practices currently suffer.

Cost-effective

You can often try a service for free with a one-month trial, and should you decide to keep it, you could find it is a much more cost-effective option than a live agent.

A virtual receptionist will never call in sick, never be late for work, never need a holiday and never go on strike! It is easy to use and maintain and exceptionally reliable.

You will find that your practice improves, both in terms of business efficiency and also in patient satisfaction, because a virtual receptionist works the hours that they do. Whether they call at four o’clock in the morning or 10 o’clock at night, it will be there to take their call.

Never miss a call

A virtual receptionist can distinguish and therefore separate emergency calls from non-emergency calls, so only really urgent situations will be diverted. And you can be assured that when they are, they will be connected to the correct number without any delay.

No longer need you be interrupted by unnecessary calls, or risk missing a vitally-important message, your 24/7 medical answering service will take care of it for you.

Multi-task without hiring more staff

Your current receptionist can only handle one call at a time. This is no slight on them, they are only human, but it means that if you have an exceptionally busy day, some patients may not be able to get through to you.

There are no such problems with a virtual receptionist, which can handle multiple calls regardless of the call length or reason. You need not worry about loss of calls due to telephone congestion any more, as all calls with be handled simultaneously, and with exceptional service and dependability.

No longer will there be the constant sound of ringing, unanswered phones from your medical reception desk, as instead of your staff constantly being on the phone making appointments and generally attending to the callers, the virtual receptionist will be there to handle their every need. This means that your reception staff will have the time free to concentrate on patients who are actually in the building.

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.

Get Your Medical Office Assistant an Assistant

November 25th, 2008

Your medical office assistant knows all too well how busy one day can be. Depending on the type of medical front desk you operate, there can be appointment scheduling, patient reminder calls and in-coming calls to juggle. Your assistant may have responsibility for product orders, billing, insurance reimbursements, maybe even feeding the dogs and picking up the dry cleaning.

This multitasking is why medical office assistants are so valuable to dentists, doctors, chiropractors and other busy health care professionals. They do pretty much everything. Without a dependable assistant, one of those balls will drop and then the whole show crumbles. If your office operation comes to a halt, patients may not receive the quality health care they need in a timely, safe and organized fashion. On the other hand, even your highly efficient medical office assistant can use some help to make your office the most efficient that it can be. This is where an online medical scheduler service will make you both shine.

Humans need to sleep. You cannot ask an employee to work 24 hours a day, 7 hours a day (only residents work that much!). An online medical scheduler service does not sleep. The beauty of having a 24/7 back up receptionist is that when your office is really busy, callers do not have to wait for someone to answer the phone. After a specified number of rings your automated program will pick up the slack.

Make sure to get a package that includes appointment scheduling software. This will help your staff efficiently handle setting and changing appointments, a well known challenge. This feature can eliminate the confusion that sometimes arises when different office staff making appointments.

Multilingual appointment reminder is a unique feature to look for in an online scheduler service. You may be fortunate enough to have one bilingual assistant, but multilingual? We should all be that lucky.

Web-based doctor appointment scheduling not only takes a lot off your assistant’s plate, but a growing number of people prefer to do everything they can online. When your patients have the option to go online, make an appointment, at any time of the day and receive a confirmation right away, you have a major potential for expanding your patient base. It could be a selling point.

Instant answering service is very important in emergencies. An online medical scheduling service can connect the patient’s call directly to the doctor with no delay. While it may seem counterintuitive, human answering services are actually worse when it comes to triaging phone calls.

Automated telephone reminders not only save your assistant valuable time, but will also save money on patient no-shows. Creating a reversal in revenue loss without added staff time is about as good as it can get.

Often health care offices have a medical front desk receptionist in addition to a medical assistant to handle the normal crazy flow of a busy office. With a good online medical scheduler you may need only your star medical assistant, which will save greatly on operating costs. Plus, your valuable assistant will be freed up to do more important things like put that precious time into better quality patient care.

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.

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