If you run a busy practice, a healthcare answering service can do wonders for your medical, dentist, or healthcare office in various ways, regardless of your practice’s size. This will allow your employees to focus their attention where it really needs to be — addressing the patient needs — while a trusted medical answering service handles your incoming patient calls.

What Is a Medical Answering Service?

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A medical telephone answering service is a live answering service that receives and processes inbound calls to your medical practice. Calls to the medical office are forwarded to a call center, where a competent virtual receptionist would greet callers. The phone answering service evaluates the caller’s situation and filters it based on the level of urgency.

If the medical emergency is critical enough to require immediate care from the physical, the call center representative will transfer the call to the on-call clinician. If the phone call bears no urgency, the virtual receptionist will take a message to be returned during regular business hours. In addition, answering service providers may also handle appointment scheduling for incoming patients, deliver new patient information, and offer 24/7 call center services for all inquiries and/or emergency calls.

Why Do Doctors Have Answering Services?

On one hand, most patients don’t like dealing with answering machines and voicemail, so having a live operator answering their call and greeting them is the first step to patient satisfaction. On the other hand, call answering and dealing with overflow calls means that medical professionals can’t focus on their patients, and thus can’t provide adequate patient care.

You can always hire additional in-house staff to deal with incoming calls, but training them and keeping them on the payroll for call handling purposes can be very pricey. It’s always a good idea to hire a HIPAA-compliant medical answering service.

When to Get an Answering Service for Your Medical Practice

If answering calls becomes a problem in your practice, and you have a backlog of voicemail that a staff member has to go through each day, there may be an issue with calls being answered. If you happen to notice that the phone in your practice is ringing for a long period before it’s answered, the time is right to hire a call answering service.

Medical answering services are also appropriate if you are looking for a more effective way to handle your calls after hours. A service can help you minimize on-call distractions by handling your calls and ensuring only the appropriate messages reach your on-call staff.

Medical Answering Service Pricing

The price of medical answering service (MAS) greatly depends on the kind of service you wish to provide to your patients. For example, the National Average Cost of MAS per minute of receptionist time is between $0.91 and $1.19. The lower end of the price range corresponds to the more basic service you can expect from service providers. However, the higher end of the scale usually provides bilingual services, 24-hour support, appointment scheduling, and even prescription support.

What Are the Benefits of a Medical Answering Service?

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Medical answering services are a critical tool for healthcare providers, as they provide always-available professional services for your patients, benefiting your practice. Here are some of the benefits of using medical answering services:

Increased Patient Satisfaction

The medical industry faces three major challenges: offering a great service level, providing it faster and more efficiently, and doing so for less. Answering services encapsulate all three: they’re available 24/7, both during office hours or off-hours, holidays, and even weekends. While there’s little you can do for your patients outside regular office hours, apart from emergency calls, an answering service will keep patients as a priority every time they call.

Reducing Distractions

Medical practices want to remain at the patients’ disposal, but many after-hours calls don’t actually need to reach your on-call provider. What’s more, even most calls during office hours don’t need to reach you, as they’re usually people inquiring and making appointments. An answering service is the first defense line against unnecessary distractions, as they ensure that only the appropriate and urgent calls reach you or the on-call physician.

Saving Money

Medical answering services generally cost less than having and maintaining an in-house call service. Additionally, MASs keep clear phone call logs, which can reduce potential liabilities in unfortunate events of patient claims and save your practice a lot of money.

Call Reporting

Many MAS providers offer convenient online reporting systems to see call recordings, messages, on-call schedules, and even customized data in real-time. These types of reporting tools can help you optimize your operations, increase training, and improve patient care.

Appointment Scheduling and Reminders

Medical answering services allow patients to book and manage their appointments through a web-based calendar, any time, and from anywhere. This type of technology works as a middleman between the patient and the doctor. Not only that, but it also reduces costs associated with missed appointments by sending automated reminders to patients about their forthcoming appointments.

Meeting HIPAA Requirements

MASs use electronic safeguards to protect patient privacy due to the sensitive nature of medical information. Furthermore, organizations that provide MASs guarantee that their employees are HIPAA-trained, ensuring that they have a thorough understanding of key medical practice standards.

Secure Messaging

MAS protects messages sent to and received from patients by encrypting and storing them in a safe location, preventing critical data from leaking. These messages are saved on off-location servers, keeping them safe, secret, and unreadable even if the server gets hacked, damaged, or stolen. This sense of safety will increase your patients’ trust and confidence in your practice.

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If you’re overwhelmed by the continuous phone ringing in your medical office or need a better after-hours on-call solution, it’s time to invest in a medical answering service such as Absent Answer. Besides being helpful, affordable, and designed specifically for the healthcare industry, the company handles all phone calls, messages, and appointments, professionally and personally.

Contact us today to get pricing and discuss your answering service needs with a member of our team.

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