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Medical Practice 101 - What To Look For In A Medical Answering Service

Feb 8, 2008
Both doctors and patients alike benefit from the use of a medical answering service in today's medical clinics, this is an undeniable reality. Doctors benefit by alleviating some of the demand placed on their front-desk receptionist so that their receptionist can concentrate on more pressing matters, and patients benefit by not having to be placed on hold for large amounts of time, thus improving patient satisfaction.

When you've come to the point when you feel that your medical practice will benefit from using a medical answering service, you should weigh out your options carefully; just because a company offers medical answering services does not inherently mean that the company can offer the features that constitute a sound financial investment. For instance, when you're going to buy a computer, do you just go to the computer store and pick up any old computer? If you're smart, you don't. Ideally, you will pick up a computer that will give you the features that you need, where it is capable of performing the tasks that you bought it for. The same line of thinking can be applied to acquiring a medical answering service for your clinic; you should research what the company has to offer before you decide to sign on the dotted line, otherwise, you might end up investing in a company that really doesn't meet your needs or your patients' needs either.

"Invisible" costs of not meeting your patients' needs

Does a patient call for emergency helps? Does he or she need an appointment? Will he or she be put on hold by your answering service agents? How fast will you be notified the calls from your patients? As with any consumer based service, your patients need should be your top priority. When your patients stop visiting your clinic after a frustrating experience with your answering service, it becomes an "invisible cost" to your business as you will not know about it.

Now, just because you use a medical answering service does not mean that you will be meeting the needs of your patient directory; as mentioned before, you need to be certain that when you acquire the services of a medical answering team that is capable of handling a number of tasks that would make it a worthwhile investment. Paying for that merely takes messages and relays them to your staff would be no more effective than purchasing an additional phone line to your medical practice and setting up an answering machine; if the answering services that you are investing in cannot meet your patients' needs, then it's not likely worth the investment.

Finding a medical answering service that meets your patient's needs

Certain types of services, such as with an automated backup medical receptionist or a virtual answering service, can help you handle your inbound call overflow while catering to your patients' needs by taking messages, forwarding emergency calls and even setting appointments; not all offer these features, but there are a few available that do. A good service using automated backup medical receptionist is also much more cost efficient compare to live agent service. Just as with our example of purchasing a computer, researching the companies available that offer answering services for your medical practice can mean the difference between a sound investment and, in all honesty, a wasted investment.

While there are different types of answering services available, many of them do not really meet the needs of your patients. By doing a little bit of digging and research, you will be able to pinpoint one that will not only meet the needs of your medical clinic, but the needs of your patients as well. And after all, that's what it's all about anyway, right?
About the Author
This article is number four in a series By Andy Press about Medical Receptionist, Answing Service and Online Scheduling. Additional resources and articles written by Andy Press related to Medical Practices Efficiency are accessible on line.
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