It’s fair to say that most healthcare organizations rely on an answering service for improved patient access to their services and trustworthy assistance. The degree to which your medical practice relies on healthcare call center services will always depend on your needs.
You may employ an answering service to handle only emergency calls after hours or use a healthcare call center provider to answer every inbound call to your office. No matter what level of service you subscribe to, your healthcare call center is a critical partner because it represents a touch point between your practice and your patients.
Properly managing customer touchpoints is essential, considering that your patient’s perception of your practice will come from the sum of these interactions. If any of these interactions fail to live up to the standard of an in-person visit, then patient satisfaction will drop.
Likewise, if the messaging between the touch points is out of sync, your patient may struggle to understand what’s expected of them and start looking for healthcare services somewhere else.
It may be that your practice only requires after-hours inbound answering for emergency calls and outbound dispatch. Larger practices or health care centers minimally staffed might be able to benefit from more advanced outsourcing, such as appointment setting or patient registration.
Think holistically about your patient communications and how a healthcare call center partner can help reduce your costs and improve the patient experience. Be open to a phased relationship with your call center provider. As you get to know and trust your answering service, you can expand the relationship and allow highly trained internal staff to focus on more important aspects than answering routine questions over the phone.
Your answering service should have a process to bring your practice on board which establishes protocols for the various scenarios operators will encounter. Choosing a medical answering service with expertise in working with medical practices is important, not only for HIPAA compliance but because they should be able to leverage their historical knowledge in helping to establish protocols.
Make sure that every scenario is properly accounted for and documented in writing. Furthermore, ensure that all operators assigned to your account have been properly oriented to your protocols.
Be aware that some answering services may operate multiple call centers. Ensure that every person who will handle your chat, incoming calls, or other communication channels can properly represent your business and that your patients receive the same level of customer service they would receive when interacting with your staff in person.
An answering service is instantly associated with the job performed by an operator handling phone lines. This is only natural, as the operator’s expertise is the “end product” clients are purchasing. However, in order for that expertise to shine, there often is a great deal of telephony and networking setup that needs to take place.
Make sure that your answering service can properly address how to achieve the necessary setup to avoid business disruption and guarantee impeccable response time both during and outside business hours, as well as 100% customer satisfaction.
The communication tools you use, such as iPhones, pagers, faxes, email, voice mail, etc., need to be included in your procedures and tested prior to activation.
If your healthcare call center isn’t providing reports that give you insight into call outcomes, you potentially have a potential blind spot concerning this important patient touch point. Typical metrics that should be provided by your answering service are answer time, hold time, completion time, and abandons.
Note there are no “typical” or “acceptable” values for these metrics, as they will vary according to your protocols and budget. The answering service should record all interactions so that you can, on occasion, audit calls to verify that protocols are followed in a professional and courteous manner.
Since we’re discussing how to best integrate your medical answering service for a seamless experience, it is worth mentioning that this must be evaluated in terms of ROI and your budget. For this, you should consider your current in-house cost for the selected duties compared to the outsourced costs of your answering service or call center.
Make sure your healthcare contact center provides the necessary reporting to determine ROI. Reports showing the number of patient calls, both inbound and outbound, and the time used will enable you to have a good understanding of how effective your protocols and procedures are and gauge effective call center agent involvement.
These reports will also document first-call resolutions – one of the best indicators of effective communication and time management. Because time means money, you will have a valuable tool in also controlling costs.
To optimize ROI paying only for the time an agent is actually working with a caller means having a scalable service whether your need is “on demand anytime” or full-time.
24-hour answering service company located in Chicago, Illinois. We provide a wide range of healthcare call center solutions and ensure that patient satisfaction is at the center of our mission. Our agents are available 24/7, 365. We never close.
For the last 25 years, Unicom has worked with hospitals, medical practices, and other types of healthcare organizations to answer patient calls and needs.
We take the time to understand the processes of healthcare providers to determine how we can deliver value.
Looking for healthcare call center operations? All you have to do is request an answering service quote from Unicom. Together we can determine how best to handle your patient’s phone calls.
Post Update: The article was updated on January 20th, 2023, originally published on February 7th, 2017. It has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.