According to Consumer Reports, “It’s time to fire your doctor when…you have difficulty making appointments, and/or your doctor doesn’t return your calls.”
And really these two complaints are similar. Patients hate it when they can’t get in touch with their doctor in a timely fashion. They don’t want to call multiple times to speak with a receptionist in order to make an appointment. Patients complain when they don’t hear back from the doctor and their calls go unreturned.
‘Customer support’ isn’t the right term for this in healthcare, but this is one way in which medical services work like businesses. Patients demand availability and responsiveness from their physicians today. They want to be heard and get a quick response from their trusted medical professionals. And really, patients are empowered to shop for another physician or specialist if they don’t receive the timely attention that they feel is necessary.
Medical Office Answering Services Solve Your Patients Top Complaints
Well, there’s something that your practice can do to ensure that patients speak with a real person whenever they call.
Problem: My Doctor Won’t Answer the Phone.
Healthcare professionals don’t have time for call screening — but it’s necessary to uphold the quality of care, which requires their focused attention on the patient in front of them. The task of screening calls from patients who are seeking medical attention, appointments, refills, answers, etc., usually falls to the receptionists and office staff. It’s a demanding job, but your front desk staff does the best they can to handle as many incoming calls during office hours as possible.
So, when patients want to communicate directly with their doctor or specialist, receptionists take a message and pass it along. No matter how organized the workflow is at a particular doctor’s office or clinic, this screening and message transfer process can be a source of confusion and miscommunication.
And what about after hours? People have medical emergencies and concerns at all times of the day and week. According to Zocdoc, patients find it aggravating when their calls go unanswered, even if it’s during the night, weekend, or holidays when their primary care physician or pediatrician is not on-call.
Problem: My Physician Doesn’t Call Me Back.
There is incredible demand on healthcare providers’ time and, some days, there simply is no way to find the time for collecting messages, sifting through them, and returning non-urgent calls. Plus, the old, overly complicated automated phone systems in many health facilities don’t help the situation. As a result, patient messages can fall through the cracks.
Problem: The Phone Line Is Always Busy at My Doctor’s Office.
The phones at most doctors’ offices get slammed on Monday morning when staff return from the weekend. Then, on Friday afternoons, there is another peak of calls from patients worried that they won’t get the appointment or prescriptions they need while the office is closed.
Specialized answering services are able to support current medical office assistants during times of high call volume.
Problem: The Phone Lines at My Medical Office Are Down.
Technical problems and storms can cause a medical office to loose its phone connection without administrative staff even realizing. This type of patient abandonment a major concern for the patients affected and a liability issue for the healthcare network.
An incident recently made headlines when there was a technical outage at the largest independent physician group in Illinois. For multiple days, patients had problems contacting doctors at the DuPage Medical Group and accessing digital medical records. The phones were down and patients were told to call back later.
Solution: Medical Office Answering Service
Doctors, nurses, therapists, specialists…they are all busy people. Yet, interruptions and the need to multitask are sited as major sources of medical errors, clinical inefficiency, and risk to patient safety.
HIPAA-compliant medical answering services are specially designed to resolve this conflict—between healthcare practitioners’ need to focus on the patients at-hand and patients need to communicate with their trusted providers. By performing teletriage, for example, call center agents are able free up time for office staff and prioritize patients who need more urgent attention.
Outsourcing Solves the #1 Complaint from Patients
Partnering with a dedicated call answering service, like PatientCalls, means that your patients can always get in contact with their doctor, in a way that is both efficient and reliable. When call volume is high during office hours, it works alongside your front desk medical receptionist to ensure that overflow calls are answered promptly and forwarded as needed. Plus, after-hours and 24-hour answering service coverage means that your patients calls don’t go unanswered, even when the office is closed.
It solves the other top patient complaints sited above as well. Call center agents are trained to transfer calls, record messages, and deliver communications according to the protocol at each particular office. This ensures that messages are never missed or misplaced. Their work is monitored and audited for quality control. Scalable overflow support means that patients never encounter busy signals and long hold times. And secure, cloud technology with backup infrastructure means that no medical office should have to tell patients to “call back later.” Eliminating downtime and the impact of technical difficulties is already part of the disaster recovery service.
Studies have also found that having dedicated staff manage phone calls and messages increases efficiency for the entire in-office staff. A pilot study published by the Journal of Patient Experience showed that when office staff are forced to cover multiple roles and juggle tasks, especially when there is high phone call volume, efficiency and accuracy suffer. When dedicated agents are only responsible for handling calls, healthcare staff are actually more responsive to urgent and non-urgent needs of patients.
Best Answering Service for Doctors – PatientCalls
Make sure that you’re not driving patients away with a great medical office phone answering service. Learn more about our top-rated answering services for doctors’ offices.