Is Your Answering Service Ready for the Holidays?

With the holidays coming up, now is a great time to review the information your answering service has about your practice, clinic, or facility. Ideally this should be an ongoing effort that happens year-round, but the reality is that relevant updates about your organization may not always filter down to your answering service in a timely manner.

Having outdated information puts your answering service at a disadvantage, but this is perhaps more critical during holidays, where your office is closed for longer periods and there is a greater need for on-call personnel to be available and reachable.

Update Your Staff List: Start with your employee database. Make sure your answering service knows who works for you and who doesn’t. This includes those who recently joined your organization and those who recently left. Also keep in mind those who have changed positions. What they once did may no longer apply in their new role. Make sure your answering service knows all these changes and is working with up-to-date information.

Verify Contact Information: With your staff roster in hand, next review the appropriate contact numbers for each person. Of course, this is most critical for anyone who will be on call. But don’t forget other people in your organization who may need to be reached to clarify instructions or resolve an unexpected problem. Most critical is their smart phone number, but don’t forget ancillary contact options, such as a home phone, personal smart phone, or pager. A current working email address, while unlikely to be needed, is good to have just in case. Update all these contact numbers with your answering service.

Confirm Reaching Instructions: You’ve updated your staff list and their contact information, but has their reaching preferences changed? For example, perhaps one of your on-call staff once preferred to be reached by text message until 10 p.m. and then wants a phone call until 7 a.m., when they revert to text messaging. But maybe their situation has changed and now they want you to try their home phone between 10 p.m. and 8 a.m., with their smart phone as a backup. This is important instructions to know. Keep your answering service apprised of these changes.

Examine Your Protocols: With your staff’s information and instructions properly updated, next look at the call-handling protocol you’ve established with your answering service. Has your criteria for what constitutes an emergency changed? What should your answering service do if they can’t reach the primary on-call person? Are their instructions for reaching a backup still relevant? Who is your organization’s primary contact with the answering service? Keep them updated on all these things.

Review Your Key Facts: Last be sure to check the essential information about your operation. Have you recently moved? Added a location? Merged with another office? Bought a practice? Keep your answering service in the loop, so they know these important details and can appropriately handle any relevant questions that come up.

These are five categories of information that should be passed on to your answering service as soon as something changes. However, this is often hard to do on a consistent basis. Therefore, it’s a good idea to periodically go through the whole list to make sure all relevant data has been passed on to your answering service.

Though it’s always important for your answering service to have up-to-date information to best serve you and your patients, it’s even more important during the holidays when your answering service will likely handle more calls for you. Make sure they’re ready to serve your callers and patients with the excellence that you expect. Having the correct data is key.

Learn how medical answering service from MedConnectUSA can help your clinic or practice, and get a free quote to find out just how affordable their critical communication services are. Peter DeHaan is a freelance writer and call center authority.


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