A Physician Answering Services vs. Automated Systems.
Medical professionals are always looking for ways to reduce cost, increase efficiency, reduce waste, and maximize revenue. A medical practice exists to help patients, but it’s also a business and earnings are a huge factor. Appointment reminders are a critical process for optimizing revenue, the trend is to use automated systems.
By using emails, text messages, and voice systems which takes live calls out of the equation, no personal contact means—less impact to the bottom line. While this sounds great in theory, the reality is much different. The truth is, having a person involved is key to making sure this process is handled with the right attention it deserves.
There are four primary reasons why using a physician answering service is your best option for appointment reminders.
#1 – Maximize Revenue and Minimize No Shows
There is something about promising you will keep an appointment that can never be duplicated when someone clicks a box in a form on a website or selects “1” on an automated call. Speaking with a person directly promotes a feeling of obligation and ensures the patient is going to be at the appointment. This works in your favor to maximize revenue and minimize no-show appointments.
#2 – Build Better Relationships with Your Patients
A personal touch leads to better patient relationships and maximizes long-term revenue. Typically, the goal or mission statement of a medical practice includes a message to help their patients feel better. A portion of this is the relationship between the patient and the office. It is difficult to make patients feel better and build relationships if there is little (or no) communication or the communication is handled poorly.
Automated systems are very impersonal and lead to patients feeling disconnected with their doctor and the people who work in the office. A patient who feels a personal connection is going to feel comfortable coming back often and referring others, and this drives additional revenue to your business.
#3 – Automated Appointment Reminders Don’t Work for All Phones
Automated systems don’t work for all phone numbers since it uses software to dial patients. This makes it impossible to predict the numbers being called (work, cell, landline) and the automated call may never get through. The call could fail for any number of reasons, but the main one is a technology mix-match. For example when the automated system calls a work number with an extension the call fails because the automated dialer doesn’t know how to process an extension. In these cases, a personal call needs to be made anyway.
#4 – Automated Systems Need Expensive IT Integration
The idea behind reducing costs with an automated reminder system can be compelling. Lowering costs is the main reason physicians and healthcare administrators consider using automated systems. On the surface, it appears to lower costs. However, when setting up a system there is generally up front expensive integration costs. Consider the IT staff required to make sure the system is running properly—every day, all day. This focus on cost leaves out an important element of the equation—your bottom line. Additionally, automated systems rarely consider patient’s need to reschedule. It is possible to integrate this option, but it can be costly (in many cases wiping out savings for automating the call in the first place).
The best way to win a client for life is to exceed their expectations. Patients are no different; they want to be heard too. When considering an answering service or automated system, look at cost savings, the impact on your revenue, and more importantly patient satisfaction. Will an automated system help you exceed your patient’s expectations? Will you be able to strengthen the connection between your medical practice and your patients?
Understand what you will be paying for; ask to see a typical monthly invoice. Don’t pay setup fees or integration costs. Verify that the answering service has experience in your industry. Most importantly, ask questions.
About Unicom Teleservices
Unicom is a professional answering service company located in Chicago, Illinois. For over 25 years of experience and proficiency providing a physician answering services that includes patient appointment reminder. Our professional answering service offers live agents 365 days a year, and 24 hours a day. We never close.