It’s a familiar scenario. You lose your receptionist at your clinic or medical office, and you automatically start looking for another. It’s a knee-jerk reaction that you don’t even give a second thought to. After all, it’s what you’ve always done, right?
But finding the right receptionist takes time and effort. You have to create and post help wanted ads, review resumes, interview candidates, agree on salary and benefits, and so on. It’s time you could devote to helping patients.
If this sounds like you, maybe it’s time to start thinking out of the box. Maybe it’s time to hire answering service instead of a receptionist. It’s a strategy that more and more clinics and medical offices are adopting. And with good reason.
Medical answering services provide a host of benefits receptionists can’t match. Plus, they help cut office expenses and eliminate the headaches of more staff. If you’re looking to simplify things at your medical office or clinic, hiring an answering service could be the right medicine for you.
Below is what you need to look for in a Medical Answering Service.
Today’s medical answering services do more than just answering calls and passing along messages. They keep you connected with doctors, medical staff, and patients 24/7. They also help boost patient service. The right answering service can:
More importantly, hiring an answering service ensures that callers talk to a real person 24/7/365. Research on this point is clear: Businesses that have their phones answered by a live person outperform those using voicemail or auto attendants.
Plus, hiring a medical answering service eliminates the need to pay the salary and benefits of a receptionist. The median annual receptionist salary in the U.S., for example, is $34,533 as of June 2018, with a range between $31,000 and $38,714. That’s money you can reinvest in your business.
Hiring a receptionist has one advantage over answering services. The person is physically there in the office. So he or she can help around the clinic or office. Minus the physical presence, however, an answering service can also help out with things like call filtering and emergency management. In these cases, hiring an answering service makes sense.
Hiring an answering service also makes sense if your office or clinic has low call volume or you’ve just opened your clinic or office. The low volume makes it hard to justify hiring a full-time receptionist.
In addition, hiring an answering service makes sense if you have a manageable call volume, but you also have periodic overflows. Answering services can help you manage the flood of calls and maintain a high level of service.
If your receptionist can’t answer the call in time, it automatically switches to a live agent. That way your patients get to talk with a live person—not voice mail or an auto attendant—whenever they call.
Ideally, you want to hire an answering service that fits your needs and budget. But if you’re like many medical offices or clinics, you have your own processes and requirements. So look for an answering service that is also HIPPA compliant and willing to learn your procedures and requirements.
You also want to look for an answering service that provides dedicated agents to its medical accounts and does continuous training. That way its agents know the latest best practices and healthcare software packages, like athenahealth, and Practice Fusion.
Plus, you want answering service that provides you with reports on things like call volume, recordings, call notes, and so on. These reports help you make better business decisions, cut expenses, and boost profitability.
Finding and hiring a receptionist for your clinic or medical office is a challenge. It consumes time and effort and takes you and your people away from doing what you do best—helping patients. It’s also not always easy finding someone that fits your organization’s culture.
But if providing excellent patient service and running an efficient medical office or clinic are priorities with you, hiring an HIPAA-compliant answering service instead of a receptionist could be just what the doctor ordered.