Archive for the tag 'Medical Answering Service'

A New Era in Medical practice

December 20th, 2008

Everywhere that I can think of technology has entered every aspect of our lives. The way we watch television has changed with the advent of TIVO, the way we drive is different now that GPS devices are readily available. Our phones are now like pocket computers and the games that our children and grandchildren now play are so far advanced compared to the Atari systems that we clamored for. How do you envision incorporating technology into your medical practice management in the New Year?

We know that technology in a medical practice equals more efficiency and better productivity. Look at how incorporation of electronic medical records can change the way a practice operates, both big and small. Perhaps you are thinking that you do not have enough money to invest in an EMR, or you do have an EMR and don’t see the need to incorporate any other process flow changes into your practice. Let me tell you about some other medical practice management tools that can be a tremendous resource and asset and can easily be incorporated into your practice.

Virtual Receptionist

Initially this concept sounded so out of synch with how I envision a medical receptionist. My first impression of a great medical receptionist is one who remembers patients’ names and shows up on time to open the office and greet each one with a smile. This person would also require little on the job training and orientation. And most importantly, they would be efficient at what they do and be able to multitask and jump in where needed. However, the more I thought though of what my actual experiences are with medical receptionists I realized that I am used to high turnover in this position and lower job satisfaction whether it’s due to being overwhelmed, receiving little pay, or dealing with sick and sometimes difficult patients. A virtual receptionist is a cost effective way to consistently have high standards of care delivered. What it cannot provide in face to face interaction, is certainly made up in its efficiency and ability to be a value add to any practice.

Automated On-Call System

A virtual on-call system really sells itself. Imagine not being bothered at various times of the evening or night because you were incorrectly contacted by your on-call service? Think about the struggles you sometimes face with finding a service that is affordable and has the ability to triage urgent from non-urgent calls and transmit names, numbers and chief complaints accurately. An automated system does all of this for you in addition to scheduling appointments for those complaints that are not urgent. This has tremendous benefits for the front office staff of a practice.

Automated Patient Reminder System

Another concept that I immediately took to was the idea of an automated patient reminder system. This system can call patients and remind them of an upcoming appointment. Incorporating the process of visit reminders into your practice can cut down on no-show rates and frees your front office staff up to do other more importantly things. All of this at a fraction of the cost that you would expect given the return in value.

For some of us including me, getting pulled into this new technologic era has come with some hesitancy and reluctance. But, the more that I explore and find out how these cost effective advances can be combined with medical practice efficiencies that increase a bottom line and also contribute to good patient care then I am more of a believer.

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.

Dentists lose patients, turn to virtual answering service

December 4th, 2008


Imagine the following scenario: You arrive home from work on a Tuesday at around 5:00 o’clock. You have been feeling a sharp pain in your tooth that continues to become more intense. Finally, you decide you cannot take the pain anymore so you call your dentist’s office. You know they are open until 6:00. The first two times you call, you get a busy signal. The third time, a receptionist answers and responds “Hold please”. After three minutes of waiting, you hang up the phone. Finally, you make a connection at five minutes until close only to have an abrupt receptionist tell you the office is now closed and to call first thing in the morning.

The aforementioned scenario happens many times a day in dentist’s office across the country. Why? Because overwhelmed and stressed receptionists, working with simplistic phone capabilities are unequipped to effectively manage the multitude of patients, phone calls, and other tasks that come their way. The solution? A virtual answering service that essentially serves as a backup receptionist can be the saving grace for a dental practice.

A virtual answering service is a high quality technology that operates as a backup call answering service in the event a live agent is away, on the phone, or unable to respond to a caller for some other reason. Many of the phone calls a receptionist receives are for routine needs, such as appointment scheduling. A call answering service is extremely well-developed to assist callers efficiently and accurately with scheduling an appointment. In fact, most people would agree that it is much better to work with a quick and effective virtual answering service than to face busy signals, delays, or abrupt receptionists. Keeping patients happy is obviously important to the long-term viability of any dental practice.

The best virtual answering service solutions are actually more capable in many situations at handling calls like the one described above. Whereas handling an urgent need call can be a challenge or a process for a receptionist, a virtual answering service can answer multiple calls at once and is designed to immediately connect the caller to the appropriate care provider in the event of an emergency or urgent need.

Does this mean a live receptionist is no longer needed in a dentist’s office? Absolutely not. Personalized care, completion of complex office tasks, and processing of insurance claims paperwork are among the many important jobs that receptionists must attend to on a daily basis. However, assistance in managing appointment schedule and immediate transfer of emergency calls are tasks that can be effectively performed by a medical answering service. This frees up the receptionist to focus on key responsibilities and give better attention to the needs of patients and more complicated situations. Plus, a virtual answering service can be acquired with a moderate up front cost and requires little to no ongoing maintenance, making it an excellent value as a backup receptionist. Receptionists are more than happy to have the support.

Good telephone answering service a chiropractor’s must-have

December 2nd, 2008


Chiropractic clinics come in all shapes and sizes. There are large practices that operate with several professionals and a few office staff members. Others may have one provider and one receptionist. Some smaller practices may just have a solo provider who operates as his own receptionist, multi-tasking between providing care and answering calls. Regardless of the setup, all chiropractic clinics can benefit from the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of a high quality telephone answering service.

A virtual answering service is an automated response system that quickly and accurately handles patient phone calls ranging from appointment scheduling to transfer of emergency calls. Why would a bigger practice need a virtual answering service if they have staff people? The telephone answering service acts as a perfect backup receptionist in the even live agents are busy with a patient, on another line, completing daily reminder calls, or engrossed in other office tasks. Whereas a live receptionist can only handle one call at a time, sometimes not very efficiently, a virtual answering service could potentially book several appointments at once in a matter of moments. This frees up office staff to fulfill patient needs, complete other important tasks, and process insurance claims paperwork.

A backup receptionist is especially important in those smaller practices where one receptionist or even no receptionist is on hand. Multi-tasking in a busy small practice can be stressful for someone flying solo. Plus, taking restroom breaks, lunch breaks, and others create a need for an answering service solution. Some small town chiropractors may even opt to operate without a full time receptionist with the ability to use a virtual answering service to manage basic calls for scheduling appointments and other needs.

Another excellent reason for any chiropractic clinic to use a call answering service is for the need to offer an after-hours answering service. Again, many practices cannot afford to pay someone to answer phones 24/7. However, the moderate up front cost for a call answering service program is even more worth it if the solution can be used as the after-hours answering service. After-hours call support is important as many people attempt to schedule appointments, or may have urgent needs after business hours.

The reality is that the virtual answering service just makes sense for chiropractors concerned with driving revenue and making profit. It is much more affordable to buy a virtual answering service than it is to pay someone ongoing to perform call answering duties. The virtual answering service also does not suffer from human limitations. Stress and fatigue are common place in many medical offices as receptionists are overwhelmed and overworked.

A quality technology solution quickly manages patient calls, something that patients appreciate, does not get irritable or short with callers, and never needs a rest. Maintenance of a solution is very minimal. All of these great benefits of the call answering service should impress any chiropractor who wants to focus his or her time on patient care and not on managing stressed receptionists and dealing with poor office morale.

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.

Save Medical Office Costs in a Receding Economy

December 2nd, 2008

While medicine is often touted as a recession-proof industry, many doctors are dismayed to watch their revenues flat-line even as patient workload increases. Using an online medical scheduling service can reduce the cost of many common office time wasters. In these uncertain economic times, it is more important than ever to get a firm grip on your clinic’s cost-to-profit ratios.

In order to get the most income out of your sterling patient services could be a simple matter of a 24/7 medical reception service. How is online medical scheduling or a type of Virtual Medical Office Receptionist going to earn you more revenue in a down economy? I have listed five of ways that you can get the most out of your clinic’s overhead costs by hiring a virtual receptionist as your new back up employee.

High Staff Turnover Protection – Even the most efficient medical office can have trouble with low staffing periods. A reliable remote receptionist service serves as a live answering service, 24/7 patient scheduling, appointment reminder, as well as a back-up receptionist. Not only will you save the hassle of trying to keep a full team during these potentially chaotic times, but you may find your clinic is able to spend less money overall because you are able to trim some personnel costs. This brings us to the next advantage.

Less Medical Staffing – Depending on the unique needs of your clinic and patients, an online medical scheduling service can cut your staffing needs considerably. A small practice may be able to run very efficiently with only a Virtual Medical Office Receptionist and one or two medical assistants. Well, and you, of course. The best virtual receptionist systems will also provide an after-hours answering service, appointment scheduling and reminder program.

Attract and Keep Web-Savvy Patients – More and more people prefer to use the internet for as much of their personal business as they can. For some, they prefer going online to dealing with anyone face to face. In their minds, the fewer people to deal with the better. A lot of that sentiment comes from being burnt by human error. Not only will you impress your existing patients with your modern, web-based appointment scheduling service, but the change has the potential to attract new patients, patients who are surfing the web for a clinic that is web-service friendly. Unconsciously, putative patients will equate you presence online with a dedication to always being on the cutting edge. It matters!

Cut Patient No-Show Rates – Patients that do not call to cancel an appointment wastes time and money. A patient no-show may be a lost patient if they simply do not reschedule. In this economy it is important to keep your practice a big as you can handle. An automated appointment reminder service cuts down on those patient no-shows. With an appointment scheduler, you will also free up staff to handle more important patient calls.

Improved Insurance Filings – Medical billing to insurance companies is one task that can pile up easily in a busy doctor’s office. It is not unusual to overlook reimbursement advantages when there is too much other work to be done. When the medical receptionist tasks are automated, you can afford to find and keep an excellent medical coder/biller. A good medical coder is worth their weight in gold. They can assure faster reimbursements and higher overall revenue for your practice. Plus your medical technicians will be able to devote more attention to your patients.

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