4 Signs Your Medical Practice Is Ready For A Live Answering Service

Posted on: 24 February 2016

If you're like many other daytime medical practices, you've probably wondered how to deal with the emergencies that occur once your office is closed. Obviously you want those with life-threatening crises to do the smart thing and go to the closest hospital. But what about all the other situations that you could nip in the bud, if only you had the right tools? If you've thought about getting a 24-hour answering service to help you solve your dilemma, you're definitely on the right track. Here are four sure-fire ways of knowing you're ready for a live answering service.  

You Get After Hours Calls

If your staff has been arriving to work bombarded with voice mails from the night before, this is a good time to look into a 24-hour answering service. With the right company on board, you could potentially save your nurses and receptionists a great deal of time screening calls, returning calls, and listening to messages, and here's how.

Some companies employ agents to take the call and send you a message. Others have the ability to utilize software and actually schedule appointments for your patients, allowing your staff to focus on the medical side of things during business hours.

Not only that, there are times that patients call to cancel appointments. And if they do this after hours and no one's there to take the call, they may simply hang up and not call back. Because missed appointments can cost a physician up to $150,000 per year, it pays to have an answering service catch those calls so your staff can fill the vacant times the next business day, reducing your overall costs associated with no shows.

You've Considered Asking Staff to Stay Late

If the phones at your practice have become so busy after you close that you've considered requesting your receptionists to stay late, it may be time to consider employing that answering service. This offers several advantages over keeping staff onsite.

First of all, your receptionists may not feel safe remaining at the office alone until 8 or 9 p.m., or however late you choose to have those phones taken care of. So, to remedy the situation, suppose you decide to hire someone who does feel comfortable working second shift all alone. But now you have to go through the hiring process all over again, interviewing and screening potential employees.

With the right live answering service, these things are not an issue. When you choose the right company to work for your medical establishment, there's no need to place ads in the help-wanted section, ultimately taking the time to sort through resumes and hoping you hire the right person. Also, each agent at the company you employ should be HIPAA certified and know how to comply with the laws that protect the privacy of your patients. You don't have to screen or train anyone.  

You're Thinking of Being On Call

Your patients want to be heard, there's no doubt about that. And patient retention should be at the top of your list. If your patients have been asking if you're available after hours or have a doctor on call, now's the time to listen.

Many medical practices utilize an answering service in order to keep their patients happy. And if you've thought about making yourself available to your patients—even if it's just to answer a few questions—here's how an answering service can help you.

Suppose a patient has a sore back and calls thirty minutes after you've closed with the intention of setting up an appointment first thing in the morning. But all you have is a pre-recorded message with your business hours and a pager number in case they need to speak with a medical professional right away. What do they end up doing? Paging you in the hopes of setting up an appointment. After all, they don't want to wait until morning.

An answering service can screen these calls for you, taking the time to schedule needed appointments and only paging you during real times of need.

You're Thinking of Expanding Your Hours

Maybe you're not quite ready to turn your practice into an all-night walk-in clinic, but you have thought about expanding your hours. How will you know if it's worth the risk? With the average annual salary of a family-practice physician running close to $150,000, hiring an extra doctor and additional staff to stay an extra 4-6 hours into the evening can cost a lot. You want to be sure you'll have the traffic to cover the costs.

Implementing a 24-hour answering service is a great way to test the waters here, and at a much cheaper rate at anywhere from $80 to $700 per month. If you find that the company you hire is inundated with calls, this could be a good sign that expanding your hours may not be such a risk after all. To get started, check out websites like http://www.ssnwhq.com.