Most medical professionals get into the field because they’ve got a passion for helping or taking care of people. Maybe you’re a pediatric physician, and you help sick kids feel better. Perhaps you’re a dentist who sees patients of all ages. You might be a veterinarian who takes care of sick animals. Although each of these professions is vastly different, there is one common denominator: only one of you, serving many patients.
The truth is, most medical professionals are outnumbered. However, that doesn’t stop patients from needing their care, and patients unfortunately can’t control if something comes up after hours. This is why most practices hire a physician answering service.
These specialty answering services are just what the doctor ordered, and here’s why:
It provides the comfort of 24/7 availability. Medical answering services allow doctors to be somewhat available to patients at all hours of the day, which builds trust and peace of mind.
Smarter allocation of resources
A medical answering service frees up support staff, allowing them to take care of in-person patients, walk-ins, and administrative work.
Undivided patient attention
Physicians love the fact that answering service staff isn’t distracted by the hustle and bustle of what’s going on inside the office. Patients can get the attention they deserve with a professional answering service. No more lost or improperly routed calls. Medical answering services can screen calls for physicians and are there to pick up the phone at all times so that no patient feels lost in the shuffle.
Consistent patient satisfaction
Whether a patient is calling at 3:00 in the afternoon, or 3:00 in the morning, they’re getting the same quality service.
The ability to hire a HIPPA compliant medical answering service is of utmost importance to a physician. Securing all Personal Health Information (PHI) is not only important, it is the law. Make sure to ask if all messages containing PHI are transmitted securely via text, email, or fax.
When it comes to a professional answering service screening calls, the biggest hurdle is deciphering whether a call is an emergency or non-emergency.
The University of Colorado worked with a family physician in Denver to perform a year-long study that researched after-hours callers. The following results show just how important it is for a professional answering service to screen calls so that the guesswork is not left up to the patient.
90% of callers claimed that their issue was an emergency, and was connected directly to a physician. Roughly 70% of these calls were not actual emergencies. This included prescription refills, appointment requests, cancellations or reschedules, and minor ailments. Of the remaining 10% of callers (who felt their issue was NOT an emergency)…
119 total calls not forwarded to the physician.
2 of the issues were life-threatening emergencies.
Three patients had been harmed due to failure to speak with a physician.
Six patients ended up going to the emergency room anyway.
Medical answering services are becoming increasingly popular in this day and age. The Washington Post reported an estimated 2 million after-hours patient calls to family physician’s offices in 2006. By the end of 2016, that number has risen to 5 million. Medical answering services have been a vital solution in allowing physicians to be more efficient, more available, and ultimately help more people.