The average medical provider receives 53 patient calls a day. And that doesn’t account for non-patient calls, such as pharmaceutical companies, insurers, other medical practices or drug representatives.
Unfortunately, receptionists have no way of predicting when those 53 calls will come in — will they happen one after the other, or will there be breaks in between?
When calls come in while inputting patient information and processing payments, receptionists are forced to place callers on hold or send them to voicemail.
But 60% of patients don’t want to be on hold for more than a minute, and 68% won’t call back.
And by the time receptionists have listened to voicemails, relayed messages and returned calls, they’ve lost hours of their day. That figure is in addition to the time they already spent on the phone.
Automated answering services for medical offices, however, can help support receptionists and alleviate the stress that comes with an endlessly ringing phone line.
What Does a Doctor’s Answering Service Do?
Physician answering services field incoming calls to your practice after hours or when you’re receptionists are unavailable. Your medical practice sets the answering criteria, such as after a certain number of rings or during blocks of time.
Medical answering agents can make or reschedule appointments and handle basic patient tasks or questions. Answering services created specifically for doctor’s offices also maintain HIPAA compliance when handling patient information.
Physician Answering Services
With a medical answering service, medical practitioners have the opportunity to free up their receptionists for the in-person aspects of their jobs. You don’t have to hire additional full-time staff to handle the phones, and you don’t need to stress about HIPAA compliance.
Here are eight services and features available to medical offices to help reduce the burden on both medical staff and receptionists:
1. After-Hour Assistance
Healthcare is year-round, and medical needs can occur at any time. Physician answering services can be implemented to work 24/7 so your patients never get sent straight to voicemail. You can also set up the answering service to follow your on-call procedures.
2. HIPAA Compliance
No medical office can risk adopting non-HIPAA-compliant procedures. Physician answering services are typically both HIPAA and HITECH compliant to secure patient data and stick to secure two-way messaging and communications.
3. Take Down Messages
An answering service will take down messages if it can’t resolve an issue and no one is available. Depending on the service, you can choose to receive those messages via text message, voicemail, email or in an online portal.
4. Schedule Appointments
Virtual assistants and other doctor’s office answering services can schedule and reschedule appointments and send reminders to your patients to prevent no-shows.
5. Conversation Routing
Like any receptionist, an answering service can route conversations to the correct person, whether it’s an on-call doctor or nurse, billing representative or another specialized department.
When calls can’t be re-routed after-hours, the answering service can either route callers to a person’s voicemail or take messages for morning review.
6. Live Operator
Some answering services offer live operators to take calls both during business hours and afterward. Operators act as an extension of your team, and are meant to sound like they’re in your office.
Live operators, however, can be more expensive. A typical live operator answering service will charge anywhere from $100 for 70 minutes to $300 for just 100 minutes (and pricing goes up from there).
7. Web Portal
Most medical answering services provide a web portal so that you can oversee your conversations, manage scripting and change hours or other information.
8. Serve Patients via SMS
It takes your patients 8.1 minutes to schedule an office visit over the phone. Often, patients are forced to call because they don’t have a digital appointment scheduling option.
It’s no surprise that patients want more digital options to make appointments and communicate with your medical office. In fact, by the end of 2019, 64% of patients will book appointments digitally.
Answering services like Numa can automatically answer common, non-urgent questions or assist with appointment scheduling using text messaging. Your patients gain a speedy, self-service experience while your practice saves money on live answering service agents.
Using Answering Services to Grow Your Medical Practice
By saving time on phone calls, your team can focus on serving patients, reducing wait times and creating an exceptional patient experience. Eliminating the need to answer or return every call means staff can cut back on multitasking, and make fewer mistakes as a result.
Still, urgent cases can get through thanks to phone traffic being split up.
Not only that, but your clients will be happier, too.
Studies show that 53% of patients expect the same customer service from medical practitioners as they do non-healthcare companies.
And when 1 in 3 patients expect to switch in the next few years, it’s obvious that patient satisfaction is just as important as customer satisfaction.
With an answering service, customers get answers quickly, which will increase your customer loyalty. And you’ll be able to take on more patients thanks to the extra time you’ll have saved.
Lastly, physician answering services can scale with your practice. As you take on new patients, or as emergencies escalate, you can increase your answering service usage.
Scale Your Receptionist Resources With Numa
Your receptionists can hardly keep up with patients walking through your office, let alone an endlessly ringing phone. But additional full-time receptionists might not be the right answer, and even still, you can’t have a receptionist on-call 24/7.
Patients expect fast service and communication. Numa was designed to give physician offices the flexibility of an answering service at a fraction of the price.
The AI answering service directs callers to text messaging and assists with appointment booking, so no call goes unanswered.
Here’s how it works:
- When customers call your office, Numa gives them the option to receive a text message when you don’t answer the phone.
- Once the call engages, Numa texts the customer and can answer questions about your practice or send links to your online calendar so clients can book or cancel appointments.
With Numa, you can text-enable your office landline in minutes, gain visibility into text conversations and book more appointments with fewer resources.
Schedule your Numa demo today.