Posted on: 8 May 2015Share
When you first started out in private medical practice, all you really needed was one secretary to answer the phone. But as you gain patients and expand your practice, you'll quickly find out that's not quite enough. Your patients will need to reach you – sometimes after hours or when you're otherwise engaged – and you'll eventually find that you need more help to keep up with the call volume. That's where an answering service can really come in handy. But it's not as simple as signing some papers and turning over your cell phone number so that you can be contacted in an emergency. Here are a few ways that you can make your answering service an asset to your practice.
Don't Be Fooled by Artificially Low Prices
Obviously, you want the best service that you can get for the lowest possible price. The problem is, while you're shopping around for an answering service, low prices are much easier to identify than good service, so it's easy to be swayed by prices that are appealingly low.
It can help to have an idea of what price ranges you should expect to see based on the volume of calls you should expect to receive. If you anticipate using between 500 and 5000 minute a month – a common range – the market rate is between $.80 and $.90 a minute. If you're anticipating a much smaller call volume, below 500 minutes a month, then you'll pay more – about $.90 to $1.00 a minute.
Unless you anticipate using over 10,000 minutes per month, a company offering rates as low as $.70 to $.80 a month is probably not going to offer you very good service. Be very wary of a company offering rates below $.70 a minute – this suggests that they're desperate for business, and that may be the result of poor service. Each call to your answering service represents a patient service that you'll be able to bill for later, so it's worth paying the money to ensure that those patients receive the type of service they expect when they call you.
Pay Attention to Your Call Data
The calls from your patients should be logged and recorded, and the data should be passed on to you. Don't just put the information in a filing cabinet and forget about it – you can use that data to improve your practice.
For example, if you've instructed the call center to answer only emergency calls and tell any other callers to call again during business hours, you'll notice that you're being billed for a certain number of minutes that don't come with corresponding messages. You'll want to pay attention to whether that number is low or high, because it can tell you something about your practice. If the number of minutes without messages is low, it suggests that you're on the right track – for the most part, your patients don't need your help except in cases of emergency. However, if you have a high number of minutes billed without messages, it suggests that your patients are more likely to have non-emergent needs that must be met after hours. If this is the case, you may want to consider allowing your call center to take calls other than emergencies, like prescription requests, in order to provide better service.
Write Your Own Script
A call center that has experience with answering medical calls is likely to have a standard script that can be used for patient calls. That's definitely a good thing – you want an answering service that brings that sort of experience to the table. However, that doesn't mean that you should necessarily accept their script verbatim.
Your practice is unique, and you know the needs of your patients better than any outside service. It's fine to start with the answering service's script as a base, but tweak it to fit the needs of your patients, and add personalization so that your patients know that they're dealing with your practice, even when they're speaking to a call center agent.
By choosing a top notch call center and paying attention to the details of your service, you can grow your business even further. A medical practice with a reputation for handling calls with a high level of customer service and professionalism, even after hours, is highly sought after. This is the reputation that you want for your practice.
For more information, contact local answering services like Around The Clock Answering Service.