Are you looking for a physician answering service? Almost any business could benefit from having an office answering services, but medical practices more than anyone. Physicians need to be available to their patients around the clock, every day of the week, including holidays. That could be done by employing at least one staff member to be on-call 24/7, but that’s costly and a logistical nightmare. A physician answering service solves the problem with very little effort and at a fraction of the cost of providing the coverage in-house.
However, like all things, not all physician answering services are created equal. You can’t just choose any old cheap answering service and figure it will get the job done. Not only is poor customer service provided by an unqualified answering service a poor reflection of your practice, it can also be a huge liability. Before choosing a physician answering service, make sure you take the following factors into consideration:
Three Things to Look for in a Medical Answering Service
- Privacy is key.
Depending on the level of assistance that you are hiring the call answering service to provide, the representatives who will be answering calls from your patients may have access to personal information about your patients. They might see their medical history, their names and addresses or even their social security numbers. They might have access to their financial information, if they are able to take payments from patients. When you entrust your practice’s phones coverage in the hands of a third-party, you are extending the faith that your patients put in you when they gave you their personal information to begin with.
When reviewing medical answering services, pay particular attention to what safeguards each practice puts in place to protect your patients. You want to know that there are locked shred bins on the call floor, so that any paper containing personal information can be disposed of properly. You want to know that there are no recording devices (such as cell phones or tablet) allowed on the call floor. You want to know that every phone representative goes through an extensive background check, to ensure they can be trusted. You want to know that the call center you use will treat your clients with the same care you treat them with.
- Customer service matters.
If you patient had a negative experience with your phone answering service, it is a poor reflection on you entire practice. Your patient will have less faith and loyalty in your practice after they were treated badly (or their messages weren’t actually relayed to your office, or weren’t escalated when they should have been) by your phone answering service.
Before choosing a phone answering service, you should take into consideration what your patients will experience. You want to know that the staff answering phone calls have gone through extensive training. You want to know that before being hired they were tested to ensure they have a professional-level grasp of grammar and customer service. You want to know that calls are monitored to provide excellent quality to your client.
Speaking of call monitoring, it’s a bonus if you have access to call recordings for your patients. This ensures that you can address any miscommunication that ever arises personally.
- Understand the pricing structure.
Every call answering service charges their fees differently. Some services charge their fees based on how many calls they take. Some charge based on how many minutes their reps are on the phone on your behalf. Some charge a flat rate. The best setup for your needs depends on how your patients tend to call you. If your patience call after hours frequently (perhaps you’re an OBGYN and your patients go into labor at any time of day and night) using a service that charges a flat rate is the most cost-effective approach, so you don’t have to pay surcharges during nights and weekends. If you are a podiatrist and are unlikely to get calls outside of normal working hours, using a service that charges by the call might be the best deal. You should consider your needs when choosing the pricing structure that best fits them.
Do you have any other questions? Please share in the comment section below!