4 Strong Motivators for Physician Answering Services

A comparison of a person voice.

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 office exists to help patients, but it’s also a business and earnings are a huge factor in the healthcare industry. Appointment reminders are a critical process for optimizing revenue and there has been a trend toward using automated systems.

Using emails, text messages, and voice systems can take live calls out of the equation, requiring less personnel, and therefore diminishing the impact to the bottom line. While this sounds great in theory, the reality is very different. The truth is, having a person involved is key to making sure this process is handled with the attention it deserves.

While very sophisticated automated systems can accomplish a lot of tasks, their functions are still limited when compared to a person. Though capable, it would be difficult and highly expensive for a system to help you manage all the functions a proper medical answering service can. Here are some of the most critical services that answering services provide in addition to handling inbound calls:

  • Appointment Scheduling and Rescheduling
  • Appointment Reminders
  • Patient Outreach
  • Patient Acquisition
  • Patient Registration
  • Confidential Messaging
  • Verify and Manage Urgent Calls

Four reasons why a live voice makes a difference in your bottom-line

Here are four reasons why hiring a live physician answering service provides benefits that can optimize your practice’s business operations, increase profitability, boost patient care, and reduce the need for a receptionist.

#1 – Maximize Revenue and Minimize No Shows

A challenge every medical professional faces is coordinating schedules. But there is something about promising someone you will keep an appointment that can never be duplicated by simply clicking a box in a form on a website or pressing “1” on an automated call. Speaking with a person directly creates a feeling of obligation, accountability, 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 from 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 HIPAA-Compliant Messaging 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 mismatch. For example, when an 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 are generally upfront expensive integration costs. Consider the IT staff required to make sure the system is running properly—every day, all day. This focus on implementing the technology leaves out an important element from 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 from automating the call in the first place).

Personal Connection for the Win

Patients want to be heard too, and the best way to win a patient for life is to exceed their expectations. When considering a HIPAA-compliant answering service or automated system, look at the total cost of ownership, the impact on your revenue, the effect on customer service, and most importantly patient satisfaction. Will an automated system help you exceed your patient’s expectations? Will the resulting inbound communication strengthen the connection between your medical practice and your patients? Is it making you a better healthcare organization?

An automated system does not care about patient satisfaction or the connection between your patients and your medical practice. A live answering service is more capable, much more warm and personal, trained to deliver flawless customer service,  and invested in your success.

In addition to reducing the need for personnel, medical answering services:

  • Boost patient satisfaction
  • Reduce operating expenses
  • Protect physician privacy/personal time
  • Decrease time patients are on hold
  • Help meet Medicare/Government requirements
  • Keep irrefutable call records/protect patient privacy
  • Help you meet HIPAA requirements

About Unicom Teleservices

Unicom is a professional answering service company located in Chicago, Illinois. For over 25 years of experience and proficiency providing physician answering services. Our professional answering service offers live agents 365 days a year, and 24 hours a day. We never close.

The information in this article has been updated on August 19th, 2021 to reflect changes and new information in the space. This article was originally posted on November 25th, 2016.