The Advantages of Implementing a Professional Answering Service in Healthcare

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According to the good folk over at Apello, implementing a medical answering service enables healthcare organizations to improve patient satisfaction and outcomes. A professional answering service provides patients with convenient 24/7 access to medical advice and support. Calls are handled promptly by medical call agents, which gives patients confidence and trust. Healthcare organizations can gain a reputation for excellent service through robust after-hours coverage from a medical answering service.

Capturing More Appointment Bookings

Many patients call outside regular office hours to make appointments. Without an after-hours answering service, these calls will likely be missed. Patients may call competing practices instead, leading to lost revenue. A round-the-clock answering service ensures trained agents answer these calls. Appointment requests can be conveniently booked, and a higher volume captured because of the expanded coverage window.

Reducing the Burden on Internal Staff 

Fielding routine patient calls after hours places an extra burden on overworked medical staff. This can lead to burnout and high turnover rates within the practice. A medical answering service reduces the need to assign internal staff to cover phones after the office has closed for the evening or over weekends. Nurses can focus their skills on complex cases rather than spending hours answering routine questions or redirecting call inquiries. An affordable answering service contract removes this burden, so the practice retains happy staff and reduces costs related to turnover and overtime pay. 

Gaining Valuable Patient Insights

Sophisticated medical answering services provide customizable online dashboards with detailed analytics on call metrics. Healthcare organizations gain data-driven insights on after-hours call volume, peak periods, average talk times, inquiry types and referral sources. For example, a hospital can identify that most inquiries are for lab results and status updates after 5pm. A clinic can pinpoint which health plan generates the most patient call volume so they can tailor service offerings. These insights enable better understanding of patients’ needs and desires while identifying areas for operational improvements.

Improving Risk Management

Thorough call documentation is crucial for healthcare organizations to manage liability risks. A professional medical answering service rigorously documents every interaction. Unlike informal arrangements such as auto-attendants or voicemail, trained agents capture detailed notes on patient concerns, advice given, outcome and any necessary follow-up actions. Accurate, transparent records from the answering team provide continuity of care and enable better identification and mitigation of issues should any incidents arise. 

Round-the-Clock Backup Support

Sometimes healthcare emergencies happen after hours, like adverse reactions or patients trying to urgently reach an on-call physician. A medical answering service provides 24/7 support as an extension of the healthcare organization. Agents can gather critical information from patients, categorize the priority level, then immediately patch through or dispatch messages to the appropriate on-call staff member. 

HIPAA Compliance and Data Security

Healthcare involves sensitive patient information, so HIPAA compliance and data security are paramount when implementing an after-hours answering service. Reputable services invest heavily in systems, staff training and best practices like call recording consent to ensure full compliance and security. Healthcare groups should verify state-of-the-art protection including encryption, access controls and HIPAA business associate agreements prior to engagement.

Proven Scalability  

Call volume in healthcare can spike dramatically during public health emergencies, like pandemic outbreaks. Budget-friendly answering services allow immense scalability to manage large call surges. This scalability means healthcare groups can handle temporary volatility without expanding internal staff.

Conclusion

Implementing a professional answering service is mission-critical for healthcare providers. It enables convenient 24/7 patient access, captures more appointment bookings, reduces staff burden, and provides customized call support aligned to healthcare workflows. With a reputable partner, healthcare groups can truly offer gold-standard service worthy of a 5-star reputation.