Medical Answering Service Does More Than Take Messages
Most everyone knows a medical answering service takes messages for patients who call after-hours. What they may not know is that an answering service can do so much more.
When a caller has an urgent medical situation, they may be directed to the ER. But what about situations that fall between “go to ER” and “call the office in the morning?” In those instances, the answering service can contact the proper on-call person.
The method of contact follows the on-call person’s preference. Options include a home phone, cell phone, text message, or email.
In most cases the healthcare provider has the answering service give the patient’s contact information to the on-call person. The on-call person then contacts the patient directly. An alternate scenario is for the answering service to connect the on-call person to the patient.
Regardless of the protocol, the on-call person can provide fast after-hours help to the patient.
Sometimes callers want to schedule an appointment for the next day. They’re anxious to snag the first available slot. While they could plan their morning to jump on the phone the moment the office opens, a better approach is for the answering service to schedule the appointment. The answering service can do this at any time, even 3:00 a.m.
To do this, the answering service needs secure, remote access to the healthcare provider’s appointment calendar. This allows the answering service to see the entire schedule and fill open slots as needed.
A benefit of this is the answering service can also take cancellations. While no practitioner wants a cancellation, it’s better than a no show. Plus, the sooner you know about a cancellation, the sooner you can fill it. The medical answering service plays a key role in making this happen, and they can do this 24/7.
A missed appointment hurts everyone. The patient who needs care. The practitioner pressed to be efficient and maximize revenue opportunities. The office staff who needs to scramble to back fill the schedule.
Medical answering services can remind patients of their appointments. They can also answer basic questions, such as the time to arrive or the location of the procedure.
Contact options include phone, text, and email reminders the two days before the appointment. Then sending an email reminder that morning, or a text message one hour before. Some healthcare providers use a combination of these, perhaps all three.
The results of appointment reminders are fewer missed appointments and a more efficient schedule.
Improving the Patient Experience
Some callers simply need information. They may have a question about location or need to verify an appointment. The answering service can help healthcare organizations deliver a great patient experience. They can assist callers with finding the information they need. This saves the office from calling back or the on-call person dealing with a non-urgent situation.
Taking Messages, Too
Of course medical answering services also take messages. But with all the services they provide, there shouldn’t be many callers who need to leave a message. After all, the critical medical situations are referred to the ER. Urgent calls go to on-call personnel. Appointment requests and cancellations are handled immediately, and routine information is given out.
Few situations remain for the caller to leave a message, but when they need to, the answering service is ready to help.
Medical answering service have become a critical communications channel for health care organizations. All at a fraction of the cost of building an internal call center. The answering service helps patients receive better access to care.
About Peter DeHaan
Peter DeHaan, is CEO of Peter DeHaan publishing which produces print media periodicals and Internet-based publications, as well as media and informational websites. In addition, and TAS Trader. Notable websites and publications include: TAS Trader, which focuses exclusively on the needs, concerns, and opportunities of the Telephone Answering Service (TAS) Industry. It is written by the TAS Industry and is for the TAS Industry. Connections Magazine, which is the premier magazine for the Teleservices Call Center Industry and is distributed to qualified readers at call centers, contact centers, teleservice agencies, telephone answering services, and telemessaging companies.