Archive for the tag 'medical practice management'

Your Medical Front Desk Receptionist Is the Tip of the Spear

December 19th, 2008

Think about what your medical front desk receptionist does all day long and you will realize how critical this presumably straightforward staffing position really is. They are on the frontline of your medical practice and deal with the day-to-day, hour-to-hour and minute-to-minute needs of your callers. Every one of these callers believes their reason for calling is THE most important matter to be dealt with and front desk receptionists are often juggling two or three calls at once!

Separating incoming calls and in-office patients is a mind-bending burden for the health care receptionist especially if the practice is an established one. They must be courteous, relatively outgoing, and even friendly without losing their professional edge. Each patient expects to be treated with respect and given the time of day. If they have been going to the same medical practitioner for some time, chances are they know the medical front desk receptionist as well or even better than the doctor.

It is an understatement that the medical receptionist’s job is chaotic but many medical practices now institute online voice recognition software to lighten the load. Virtual medical receptionist software is the answer for a busy medical practice that wants to keep its professional edge yet maintain a personalized atmosphere within. Allowing your receptionist the luxury of turning on your remote receptionist service every once and a while will give them the freedom to catch their breath and focus on important in-office functions when things get hectic.

The busier your practice becomes, more tasks will inevitably fall on the shoulders of the front desk receptionist. If this employee becomes overwhelmed, having the virtual medical receptionist system as a backup will make them more productive. If staff training were taking place than having the back up receptionist available would be helpful during on the job training periods.

Training your medical front desk receptionist to take on more office challenges is normal for a growing practice so this backup receptionist capability will be a windfall. Being able to trust that your valuable patients are well cared for not only in the examination room but also in the reception area makes for satisfied patients. Having a virtual receptionist as back up for your employee will improve the office environment by ensuring in-house patients are treated personally. As a medical practitioner your focus is your patients’ health and worrying about office operations is simply unacceptable.

Building a medical practice is not easy and requires a plan of action starting with the medical front desk receptionist. They are representative of the kind of practice you are trying to achieve so streamlining their effort with a virtual medical receptionist as back up will increase efficiency. Medical visits are stressful and wait times can be long, so having a virtual medical front desk receptionist frees your staff to provide in person assistance. Your call-in patients will not suffer because of a busy waiting room either.

Back up receptionist duties are vital to any medical practice especially newer or growing practices since staffing levels are being tested constantly by an increasing workload. You could hire a part time receptionist but this will add to your expenses. Considering the use of a remote receptionist service as your medical practice grows and prospers would be a prudent measure.

Virtual Receptionist Easiest Hire You’ll Ever Make

December 19th, 2008

Hiring staff employees can be a time consuming burden on your organization or business practice. You need to place a newspaper ad or online advertisement and depending on the position like say, a medical receptionist, it could become costly. When you start fielding phone calls or sorting emailed resumes and snail mailed CV’s you soon realize the burden this all has on your time.

The hiring burden does not stop there. You or someone else on your staff will need to choose a number of reception desk candidates to then interview by phone and eventually, choosing three or four for an in-person interview. You could also call an employment service and they will charge you the first month’s salary or more to find your medical office receptionist candidate but you will still need to interview them. There is a lot of work involved in hiring someone and it is all so unnecessary.

Hire a virtual receptionist! You will be free of all of those hardworks!
A virtual receptionist is a 24/7 back up receptionist you can count on! For the time and money it would cost to hire even a part time or back up receptionist, a virtual receptionist can be ready to handle your front desk receptionist duties in a fraction of the time it would take to hire someone qualified. Your initial investment and set up will be minimal in comparison.

A virtual receptionist will save you money like you won’t believe. Automated voice recognition software never takes a vacation and you will not pay any benefits. You won’t need to worry about scheduling and paying extra hours for a part time versus full time employee. Human resource issues regarding payroll will be non-existent. It is not nearly as costly as it sounds to start using virtual receptionist software and it’s actually simple to learn and use.

With a virtual receptionist, you can avoid staffing issues like maternity leave. You will not experience the frustration of having to arrange for a long-term temporary front desk receptionist when your regular employee informs you of her “happy event”. There are no sick days with a virtual receptionist. So even last minute sick day calls mean a simple switch over to your virtual receptionist and you will not lose any valuable business.

You maintain professional control of all the functions of the virtual office assistant and can even have different languages available. You can program your virtual assistant to ask and answer questions callers may have and set up immediate paging for emergencies. Whenever you leave your office unexpectedly you can be assured your call in clients, patients or general inquiries are being looked after.

If you run a medical practice, dental office, chiropractor clinic, naturopath clinic, or any other form of out patient facility in the medical field the virtual office assistant will seem like it was created and engineered just for you. The virtual receptionist will fit right in to your practice…but you will still have to get your own coffee!

Patients Will Find Your Automated Appointment Scheduling Therapeutic!

December 19th, 2008

If you can remember the last time you were placed on hold and left there to simmer when you had better things to be doing then you will appreciate the relief your patients will experience when they use your new online appointment scheduler. No longer will your medical receptionist be placing callers on hold while she tends to the multitude of other tasks that fall under her pay grade. Everyone involved will appreciate your foresight and progressive business sense when you commit to investing in an online doctor appointment scheduling service.

If you have patients whose first language is other than english you can customize the messaging for a selection of different language options all delivering the same message. When patients need the services of a medical doctor chances are there is a certain amount of anxiety associated with making an appointment. If the process is a simple permission system for online appointment scheduling then your patient will spend less time making the appointment call and get back into their routine.

I have spoken to a number of people about the intrusiveness of some live medical receptionists and the verdict is unanimous that they feel violated when asked about the nature of the appointment or “why do you need to see the doctor?” Frankly, this is none of their business and with an automated appointment scheduler; the patient is free to arrange an appointment without the inquisition from a live receptionist.

Self-service patient appointment scheduling will make the appointment process simpler for your patient and they will appreciate the fast service and confidence that their appointment is set. They have avoided embarrassing questions from the medical receptionist, the automated scheduling software questions were easy to understand, and they were given a chance to verify their answers.

The beauty of this online doctor appointment scheduling is the patient is given choices and if they are elderly, they will be able to take their time answering questions or checking their calendar for suitable dates without feeling rushed. If a patient is in an emergency, the online appointment scheduling service can direct the call to a medical attendant or the doctor (in case of emergency) directly if they are that available for patients.

Another advanced feature available with automated appointment scheduling services is if you have a dual practice you can set up the appointment scheduling software so patients are directed to the proper medical provider. Patient calls will never go to the wrong doctor. Medical staff can check the online scheduler anytime to confirm or verify appointments, reschedule appointments, and arrange for callbacks for various reasons.

A patient’s time must be respected these days. Folks are always complaining about how much time they spend sitting in doctors’ offices and it is even worse for someone with a chronic condition that needs regular monitoring. The least you as a medical professional can do is streamline the appointment scheduling process so it is convenient for your patients. It can also prove to be profitable for the overall medical practice as you will find out.

Dealing with seasonal demand with a virtual receptionist

December 16th, 2008


With the holiday season upon us, you may find that your medical or dental surgery is experiencing lager-than-usual custom, especially by phone. Whether it is someone calling in to say they won’t be making an appointment because of a festive duty, or the opposite, someone calling to make an appointment because of some winter-related injury, this time of year is often the busiest.

So rather than take on new staff, or risk your current reception desk becoming over-run, why not put your patients in the safe hands of a virtual receptionist.

In the same way that you can now order a pizza or check your bank balance by telephone, you can now offer your patients a 24/7 medical answering service and online appointment scheduling by employing a virtual receptionist.

A virtual receptionist can answer and log calls, make appointments, direct calls to the correct recipient and even telephone patients to remind them of their appointment.

Human error is known to be one of the biggest problems in improving productivity, efficiency and quality of service. You only need to look at the improvements we now enjoy thanks to inventions like cash machines, vending machines and self-service supermarket checkouts.

The same principle can now be applied to your medical reception desk.

Your current receptionist is only human, so can only handle one call at a time. That means that if you have an exceptionally busy day, some patients may not be able to get through to you.

These problems are a thing of the past with a virtual receptionist, which is able to handle any number of simultaneous calls, regardless of the call length or reason. No longer need you worry about missing out on calls due to telephone congestion, as all calls are handled simultaneously, with exceptional service and dependability.

Also gone from your practice will be the constant sound of ringing, unanswered phones from your medical front desk. Your staff, rather than being always glued to the receiver making appointments and attending to callers, the virtual receptionist will handle your patients’ every need, leaving your medical reception staff free to concentrate on patients who are actually in the building.

In addition to answering your calls, a virtual receptionist can contact your patients to remind them of appointments, in their own language and in a clear and informative manner. The automated receptionist also detects the difference between human voices and answering machines.

While a human receptionist is limited by the hours they work, the virtual receptionist will retry unanswered calls at different times of the day until they get through to your patient, and logs all calls, attempts and results with efficiency and accuracy.

A virtual receptionist also eliminates other potential pitfalls your patients may encounter, such as regional dialects and accents which can confuse both caller and operator, or human factors such as the receptionist having a cold, or a sore throat that may make them less intelligible.

Due Diligence Necessary When Selecting an Appointment Reminder Service

December 14th, 2008


Not all appointment reminder services are created equal. When you begin your quest for the optimum automated appointment reminder system, take the time to try the demos the vendors offer before you buy. Committing to appointment reminder software that is sub par will only reflect poorly on your ability to make good choices. Take the time to find what is right for your office.

Seek the assistance of your fulltime medical office receptionist or speak to whoever is on the frontline of client and patient calling in your office. Your staff could guide you on whether the medical reminder systems you are trying are worth the investment. Count on your employees to offer their opinions. Consider them carefully as part of your due diligence process.

Make sure the company you decide to do medical reminder business with has a reputation for customer service and longevity in the marketplace. The last thing you need is to hook up with a vendor and find they are out of business when you require their help. If possible, make your initial inquiries with the main company directly; let them choose a specific reseller for you. It is preferable to deal with someone who is exclusively committed to the sale and service of appointment reminder services.

Some appointment reminder services will ask you for a long-term service contract and this should be avoided like the plague in today’s tight economy. Try to research the company’s viability by finding out how long they have been in business. Do a Google search of the company name and read about what has been written about them in reviews. Beware of penalties charged for early service cancellation and try to arrange a pay for use or month to month invoicing.

Determine if you are capable of training yourself on automated appointment reminder software in house. Some medical reminder services require you set up the service yourself online in connecting to your current network. Do you need this added responsibility or would you prefer that the appointment reminder service vendor set everything up? Both options have their valid points to consider.

If you are time or technically challenged then Internet based appointment reminder services will be perfect for you. These systems are generally simple to learn, quickly activated by staff, and are maintenance free. Technical support is usually only a toll free call away and appointment reminder service tech support is usually available without much waiting or fuss.

Every business or medical practice has special needs for an appointment reminder service. You should be sure that your system has all the features for your particular business. For example, email is far more prevalent today than it was only 5 years ago; you must cater to the needs of patients who have their Blackberry’s glued to their palms. Email and phone reminders may be essential to them. You will be amazed how an appointment reminder service will assist your practice but do your homework.

Appointment Reminder for Your Practice

December 11th, 2008


The complexities of running a medical office can be daunting. Practices, particularly solo practitioners, are finding it harder and harder to cover their overhead expenses, pay staff and malpractice insurance while still maintaining a full focus on patient care. Changes in staff, disgruntled patients, and low insurance company reimbursements often leave physician friends of mine questioning why they went into the practice of medicine. But in the end, their love for patients and desire to provide quality care always outweighs the rest. They continue to juggle and provide care while managing the pressures of running a practice and smaller things albeit important don’t get done.

Key to managing never-ending workloads, patient call backs and demands that are squeezed in between fifteen minute appointments, is the ability to utilize innovative methods and resources that focus on cost effective practice improvements. It is important that any change in practice patterns or medical practice management have a high yield, big benefit and can be incorporated seamlessly.

One of the things that I have found that make a big difference is appointment reminder calls. These have tremendous benefits all around. A 2006 study that evaluated the effectiveness of patient reminder calls showed that the rate of no show appointments significantly reduced when patient reminder calls were instituted. How do “no show” appointments currently affect your practice? Or, better yet – how do you accommodate patients who come in on the wrong day or time for their appointment because they were guessing about when to come? Lastly, has your practice tried to perform reminder calls in the past but found that they were haphazardly done when other more pressing priorities arose? These scenarios can greatly impact projected cash flow or cause disruption in patient flow.

If you had trouble answering any of the questions or find that you are looking for more ways to increase your practice’s efficiency or productivity, you should consider investing in appointment reminder. Online appointment reminder service does not require maintnance and are cost effective and pay for themselves. They can free up front office staff so that duties that are more hands on can be focused on more intently. You’ll find that office staff are more productive and may welcome one less “task” to perform. They can focus for instance on things like more accurate claims submissions for proper reimbursement from insurance companies.

Additionally, patients really appreciate appointment reminder. Often they themselves are multitasking and juggling multiple doctors’ appointments for family members and can easily loose track of when their own appointment is scheduled. The connection with the patient and great first impression can then begin before they even walk in to the practice. This helps to ensure patient loyalty and a higher degree of patient satisfaction which can also decrease medical liability.

As you can see, so many things come into play when a appointment reminder is instituted. It is very simple, easy to maintain, requires little upkeep, and has a big payoff.

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.

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