athenahealth Live Answering Service and Call Center

Athena answering service
6 min read

In this article, we examine two topics:

  • Unicom works within athenahealth to help medical practices deliver a superior patient experience.
  • Use of athenahealth for managing medical practices and electronic health records.

In order to get the most out of your relationship with your medical call center, make sure that the call center can support the Practice Management System used by your in-house staff.

Healthcare industry growth not slowing down

The Bureau of Labor Statistics is forecasting the healthcare industry will continue to drive the nation’s employment growth through 2026 by adding around 4 million new jobs, accounting for about a third of total job growth.

Health Care Employment Growth 2016-26- Decade

This includes nursing specialties, home health aides, and even support specialties residing in medical call centers.

Role of Support Specialists

These back-end support specialists in your medical call center must be knowledgeable and well trained if they are to act as an extension of internal operations.

This includes:

  • Understands the practice’s portfolio of services
  • Trained on specific medical practice processes
  • Experienced using your practice management software

Practice’s portfolio of services

A key component to integrating a medical call center into the practice is for the support specialists to have a clear understanding of how the practice help your patients.

Specialists should be able to clearly communicate the needs of patients as well as provide accurate details when appropriate.

Patients should feel the support specialist is a cohesive extension of your practice.

Medical Practice Processes

Support specialists have the important responsibility of delivering a positive patient experience on each call.

Patients want to feel well-assured they will get the information they need or will be put in contact with the right person every time they call.

With proper planning and training, support specialists can implement a practice’s processes to ensure a superior level of service.

Practice Management Software

Using a call center for medical offices that have the expertise to use the same software your in-house staff uses will maximize the efficiency of the call agents and helps ensure that patients won’t experience a gap in service when they interact with the call center.

There are many options for practice management software, and whichever one you use, it’s important that your call center supports it.

We’re going to explore the use of athenahealth Practice Management solution, but the concepts extend to any medical practice management provider.

athenahealth Software: Easy to Deploy, Use, and Support

The athenahealth software is highly customizable to fit the needs of medical organizations of all sizes and specialties. Even with this extreme customizability, the software is easy to deploy and configure, allowing medical call centers to get up and running with the software quickly and easily.

In addition, the solution is cloud-based, which eliminates the need for software installations on-premise.

athenahealth’s fully staffed support department stands ready to train and support all aspects of the software platform. This means that if your IT or support staff is unable to assist with any applicable networking and integration activities, technicians from Athena Software are there to help where applicable. This will provide assistance getting the deployment up and running, and training the user base to provide the lowest learning curve possible.

athenahealth’s solution is broken into four distinct areas. These include the following:

  • Electronic Health Records – using athenaClinicals, this system provides the confidence to secure all of the applicable Medicare Meaningful Use payments from Electronic Medical Records (EMR) that are processed by the practice.
  • Practice Management – using athenaCollector, this system provides the means to bill all portions of any medical practice that ensures that bills get paid the first time.
  • Patient Communications – using athenaCommunicator, this system provides patient scheduling and empowers the patients to take their care into their own hands with the practice-branded patient web portal.
  • Care Coordination – using athenaCoordinator, this system provides order transmission, insurance pre-certification and patient registration processes among physicians and hospitals, surgical centers and imaging centers.

The athenahealth platform is also portable. Since it is a Software as a Service (SaaS) and is cloud-based, access to all the components of athenahealth is easily transferable, which means it can be accessed by multiple offices, or healthcare call centers in separate locations. Patient data integrity is protected by maintaining regular backups and data security is enhanced by automatically logging off agents to prevent unauthorized access.

athenahealth In Action With a Medical Call Center

When medical call center agents are trained on the use of practice management software, such as athenahealth, it allows them to be more effective in appointment scheduling, and other key practice functions.

3 Common Activities of Support Specialists

We are going to explore three of the most common functions of support specialist when working inside of athenahealth, including:

  • Patient Registration
  • Insurance Intake
  • Appointment Scheduling
  • Billing Inquiries

All of these call center activities stay in sync with actions taken by internal staff because the external support specialists are using the same system as internal staff.

A properly trained call center agent can potentially handle a whole gamut of different patient management functions, from in-take, through billing and follow-up using the athenahealth software.

Patient Registration

When patients call in, support specialist can help register new patients.

The screen below can be customized to collect data points important to the practice. Specific fields can be required which ensures support specialists are collecting vital information.

Patient Registration in athenahealth

Insurance Intake

During the registration process, majority practices require new patients to provide their insurance details.

Support specialists can walk patients through this process in order to obtain accurate insurance details.

Appointment Scheduling

As an example of how the use of athenahealth, in concert with your answering service, consider the initial phone call a patient makes to schedule the first appointment.

During the appointment setting process, which is very possibly handled by the outsourced call center, the patient will likely give a little background as to why the appointment is being requested.

The patient’s records can be enriched with this information, allowing the practitioners that will be involved in their care to begin the process of familiarizing themselves with the patient and the request. Practitioner assignments can be made at the time the appointment is taken, in accordance with the needs of the patient.

Billing Inquiries

An agent trained in the use of athenahealth software, or another practice management system, can more effectively handle billing inquiries because they will have access to the full case history.

If any adjustments need to be made, or if an issue needs to be escalated to internal staff, having both your internal and your external team using the same software increases efficiency.

Conclusion

As a medical business owner or manager, you want every bit of information that can help you efficiently manage patients and thus maximize revenue.

The combination of a robust practice management system, such as athenahealth, and a medical call center which is versed in how to use the practice management system can be an important component of improving your practice’s level of service and overall efficiency.

24-hour answering service company located in Chicago, Illinois. Our professional answering service offers athenahealth medical call center services with live agents 24 / 7 / 365. We never close.

With Unicom, simply request an answering service quote. Together we can determine if there is a good fit to manage patient phone calls.

Disclaimer: Unicom Teleservices is in no way affiliated with athenahealth, Inc., nor do we receive compensation from athenahealth, Inc. The intent of this article is to solely show case Unicom Teleservices’ ability to work in EMR platforms.