5. Common Problems with Medical Answering Services
Considering the stakes, finding a formidable answering service partner can stressful. You need a partner that can provide at least the same level of quality that your own staff can provide. And as the importance of the patient experience grows, you can’t afford to work with a subpar partner. After all, health insurance providers may downgrade your practice if your patients report any less-than-desirable experiences.
What characteristics are indicative of a subpar partnership that may lead to such patient experiences? What may be a sign that you’ll have your own issues with an answering service?
Patients want and need to address their health concerns as quickly as possible. When they call, they want to know that their problems will be addressed in short order. How will they feel if their call isn’t answered quickly or completely? How will they feel if an agent struggles to understand their problem and act accordingly? How will they feel if they don’t hear back from you because their message never reaches the right person?
Quality communication is imperative to upholding an excellent patient experience. Without it, you risk losing patients and tarnishing your reputation. You need a partner that can guarantee answering patient calls within a specified number of rings and can give you immediate access to messages.
Quality communication is imperative to upholding an excellent patient experience.
It takes time to learn your specific needs and devise the most-suitable workflows. But too often, medical practices don’t realize how rushed onboarding impacts their business until it’s too late. Your partner needs to involve you in the onboarding process to ensure that your needs are met. Without you, how can an answering service know what your patients need from you? A rushed onboarding process is also a common sign that a partner isn’t spending enough time training their agents. Speaking of which...
Mediocre (or Nonexistent) Training
Especially in the medical field, proper training is a must. The answering service industry is known for having a high employee turnover rate, which can compromise a partner’s ability to maintain a high-quality call experience. A bulk of their training covers baseline phone etiquette and professionalism, but working in the healthcare space requires extra, specific attention.
If answering agents aren’t trained on HIPAA compliance and patient confidentiality, they’re a liability to your practice. And as mentioned above, working with medical practices and hospitals requires answering services to train its employees on assessing what situations are true emergencies.
While your baseline need is to have a partner that can answer patients calls, chances are you need far more support to adequately meet your patients’ needs. From thorough documentation and call recording to appointment scheduling and reminders or even nurse triage, a valuable answering service offers many solutions that streamline your practice. Don’t select a provider until you understand all of their services and assess how your partnership will impact your day-to-day operations and profitability.