Having an answering service take appointments for your practice may have more implications than you may think.
Over the past 15 years of being in the medical answering service industry Patientcalls team has evolved over time and has seen the industry change when it comes to “Appointment Taking” and “Cancellations of Appointments” along with HIPPA rules and regulations for transmitting personal health information (PHI). In today’s medical answering service industry majority of the services offer appointment taking and cancellations in clients portal systems because many think it’s time saved and cost beneficial to them but do not think of the concerns and liabilities involved with this new feature being When reviewing this new wave of technology of services being offered throughout the last few years and with the HIPAA RULES and REGULATIONS in effect certain standards are needed to be able to offer this as a medical answering service.
1. You will need a separate login and password for each operator employed (Mandatory By HIPAA)
2. Training the service and employees on how to operate and inputting into your system
3. Will be charged on a per minute plan of $.60-$1.00 per minute
4. Does the service own there own software or use a 3rd party shelved product? (Patientcalls owns there own software and employ a 24 hour technical team in house)
Patientcalls executive team has thought long and hard about making the jump to this new offering with their in house technology team but when considering appointment taking in clients portals many “RED FLAGS” can up when considering the web portal features clients are asking for these days. First and foremost Patientcalls does offer appointment taking and cancellations calls in there own system and made a method that is a very secured way which reduces the risk in violating HIPAA and saves you the client a ton of money on a monthly basis but before going into Patientcalls method I would like to explain in portal appointment taking that each operator employed by the medical answering service taking these type of calls and messages will need their very own login and password to access the web portal of a client to enter their system and to input the Personal Health Information. This is mandatory by HIPAA. “Quick Question”, what happens when an employee of the service quits or is fired from his or her job and the service you employee does not inform you of the client quitting or being fired and forgets to cancel their login and password and he or she still has the ability to access in entering the portal of you the client still where personal health information in being inputted? Since appointment taking is being associated with a medical or healthcare business and by obtaining a name, number and reason for the call would be to book an appointment or canceling an appointment the service is now considered breaching HIPAA if that employee password and login is not deleted from the system because the service did not inform you and if the employee enters the portal and retrieves information from it.
You have to ask yourself are you the client willing to take that chance with a medical answering service having access to your appointment and message portal? Secondly, with this new age of appointment taking in clients systems is the training involved with the service itself. Please ask yourself how long it takes to enter this information into your system with an employee from your office who has been there working and trained? At least 5 minutes to maybe 10 minutes long, so think about the time consumed in training a medical answering service operator for your system and how long it will take to enter their login and password and then the information?
Lastly, “PRICING” is another issue you the client have to think about because all services who offer this feature charge anywhere between $.60 per minute to $1.00 per minute. If you factor in a new employee or an employee is slower than others or forgets their login and password at their service you are being charged every single second of that inbound call itself. If a call takes 10 minutes long you are charged $6-$10 for one single appointment booking or cancellation in your system. What happens if the system is down or not functioning right? Where does that information go? You the clients are still being charged every second of that call no matter what.
Patientcalls looks at this as a way for the medical answering services to add a TON of revenue to their business itself and do not care about the quality of their service or how long YOUR PATIENTS wait on hold until the next available operator answers because to them it’s money in the bank because of the amount of time being consumed for one call and are charged on top of that with every other type of call that comes into the service for you the client. Think about how many other clients they have in doing this for and how long it takes?
Patientcalls spent many many months debating this issue with the new age of technology but ultimately decided to come up with a METHOD of their own to save clients up to 80%% in cost savings for there medical or healthcare business by creating their own METHOD of appointment taking and cancellations calls and booking of appointments. Patientcalls plan is to be able to make sure callers are not on hold for long periods of time waiting, may 2- 3 rings at most before an operator answers because we all know how patients get when there call isn't answered in a timely fashion or hanging up due to being on hold for a long period of time is by being able to create a detailed message plan for appointment and cancellations and answering the calls in a timely fashion with the utmost care and respect for your Patients. So when the call comes into Patientcalls the operator is able to ask certain points of information of when the client or patient wants their appointment date and time or cancellation of appointment with a reason why the patient is canceling and send it over to the office via secured password protected email, secured text and or fax where then your office employee will input the data into your own system. This reduces the risk of mistakes drastically.
We have converted many clients to Patientcalls METHOD throughout the last few years by allowing Patientcalls to take all calls or daily overflow during the day and delivering the messages in real time or increments to where an office employee who knows the system is able to take that information obtained by PatientCalls and IN PUT it into there own system more efficiently and accurate then a service doing it and your employees will not be stressed out answering phones all day and booking appointments. Please remember the points pointed out with the “RED FLAGS”. Patientcalls assistants will CUT the cost down, CUT the liability of mistakes down by not entering PHI into your system, and CUT the risk of breaching HIPAA by using the safe and secured methods and cost savings in appointment taking and cancellations of appointments.
Please ask yourself these few questions when vetting medical answering services.
1. Are you willing to pay for the information to be entered into your system?
2. Is it cheaper to use Patientcalls METHOD with having your employees entering the information into the system after receiving all necessary information on appointment calls?
3. Think of how long it takes to train 1 employee let alone a full service of employees and give the
operators a separate login and password?
4. What happens when a service employee is fired or quits and the service does not delete the password and login to your system portal? Is it worth the risk in hiring a service who you never met before and relying on the service with inputting personal health information into your system?
5. Who doesn't like saving up to 80% per month when using patientcalls?
6. What happens if the portal is down or not functioning right? What happens to all the information inputted into the system? What happens if the operator enters the wrong login and password multiple times and gets timed out? What happens to their information gathered for that appointment or cancellation call?
If you would like to save money and have the peace of mind in a service NOT entering your system please call Patientcalls, A TRUSTED and FIRST TRUE TOP RATED 100% HIPAA compliant medical answering service in the industry today. Please call 866-333-7922 to our sales line.