Answering services are proving to be an invaluable tool for healthcare providers of all types. Physicians, dentists, home health care workers, medical equipment suppliers, and hospice nurses are just some of the providers who rely on 24/7 call answering to keep up with patient communications. Patients often don’t realize they’re talking with a receptionist at an answering service. They assume they’re talking to an employee in the office or an on-call staff member.
The medical field is unique in that around-the-clock call answering is not just an advantage, it’s often a necessity, particularly in the case of an emergency. A good answering service helps practices run more smoothly, day and night. A bad answering service, however, can hurt a practice’s reputation, jeopardize patient’s information, and add stress to a provider’s workload. How do you know if your medical answering service is helping or hurting? Here are 3 signs your answering service is hurting your business and you need to consider switching:
- Dropping or misdirecting calls
Unfortunately, there are too many horror stories about patients who were neglected because an answering service operator either failed to forward their call or didn’t direct the patient to the right course of action. Time and accuracy are crucial when it comes to most medical issues, and if an answering service operator isn’t confident in how you need your patient calls to be directed it could spell trouble. Failing to forward a call quickly, or calling the wrong doctor in the middle of the night regarding a patient in urgent distress is not just annoying, it’s a liability.
- Wrong or incomplete information
Careful attention to detail is critical in the healthcare industry, and incorrect information is unacceptable. A top answering service will know the importance of logging and recording all calls and responses accurately so that you know who called, when, and how the call was handled.
Patient records must be accurate for a practice to be reputable and reliable. Answering service receptionists are responsible for ensuring that the information they convey is meticulous. Mistakes in a patient’s name or phone number or incomplete information about their health concern jeopardize a practice’s reputation and potentially has a harmful impact on the patient.
- Slow or rude service
Patients want to know that their health and well-being is a priority. When they call a medical provider, they need to know they’ll be taken care of, not shuffled to the side, which is the purpose of having a live medical answering service. But some answering services are understaffed and callers are put on hold for long periods.
Research has shown that if callers are directed to voicemail or put on hold for more than 30 seconds, more than a third of them will hang up and not call back. This is particularly true when patients are calling a doctor’s office. If I patient senses that your staff is too busy to answer phone calls in a timely manner, they will assume that office visits and even emergencies will also involve delays. Placing patients on hold for long periods is essentially an invitation for them to hang up and consider looking for a more responsive provider.
Likewise, rude receptionists who are curt or impatient may cause callers to wonder if this is the type of treatment they’ll receive from everyone else they encounter in the practice. How each call is handled reflects on your reputation and is an opportunity to instill comfort and trust in the caller, not frustration and distrust.
Remember, patients often believe they’re talking with a staff member when they call their medical providers, not an operator at a remote location. So the answering service receptionists who represent your practice must deliver exceptional customer service on each and every call.
Day or night, outsourcing your practice’s calls will ensure that your patients are attended to with care and compassion, 24/7, 365 days a year so that you can sleep better at night. Voice Link offers 26 years of experience in medical answering services and provides live answering services that exceed your expectations. Request information online or call us at (800) 262-2799 for a free consultation.