Can a Daytime Answering Service Help Your Clinic or Practice?

When you think of a medical answering service, you probably imagine a company that answers calls on the evenings and weekends. They take messages and dispatch urgent calls to on-call staff. This is a correct understanding and is a common function of healthcare answering services.

However, a medical telephone answering service is for more than just after hours. They can also handle your daytime calls, too. Consider the following applications:

A Solution for Staffing Shortages: Finding good help is challenging in most any industry, but especially so in the healthcare field. Sometimes staffing shortages happen. When this occurs, many things suffer, including critical communication with your patients.

A daytime answering service that specializes in healthcare is an ideal resource to help you maintain a professional level of communication with your patients even if your office is short-staffed. Let your answering service take and screen all your calls. They can transfer time-sensitive callers to your office staff and take messages on nonurgent calls. The nonurgent calls can be sent by email, either as they arrive or in a group for your staff to handle at one time. When they can batch these calls, it frees them from the constant interruption of a ringing telephone.

A Reliable Answer When Your Staff Is Busy: Even when you are fully staffed, there are times when your staff becomes extra busy. This keeps them from being able to handle every issue when it comes up. One of these tasks is often telephone calls, which seem less urgent than the patients in your office who want to see a healthcare provider, the people who need to schedule their next appointment, and the folks waiting to pay their bill or provide insurance information.

During these busy times, let your incoming phone calls reroute to your daytime answering service. They’ll take detailed information from callers and provide it to you in the format you prefer, such as email, text, or voicemail. Then you can follow up when things slow down.

A Relief For Vacations and Sick Days: Absent staff presents another problem for effective communication. You can’t hire someone to come in and cover a two-week vacation, and it certainly isn’t practical to do so for a sick day. Work in your office must proceed as normal, as if everyone was there.

When you have daytime answering service already set up, they can take over for you anytime and at a moment’s notice. You usually won’t even need to schedule this in advance. Just route your calls to your answering service, and they’ll do the rest.

A Flexible Solution: Remember how we mentioned that most medical answering services handle calls in the evenings and weekends? Well, most daytime answering services can handle after hour’s work as well.

They already know you and your organization, they have their systems set up to serve you, and they know your preferences. At this point it’s a small matter to extend coverage to include evenings and weekends. This flexibility is hard to beat.

Medical answering services are available 24/7 to handle your patients’ communication needs. Sometimes this is after hours, and sometimes it’s during the business day. And if you need them to, they can cover both.

The key is having a relationship established with your medical answering service, and then they’ll be ready whenever you need them for whatever communication needs you may have.

Learn more about how daytime hours 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.


Don’t Overlook the Benefits of Voice Mail

When considering communication options for your healthcare operations, don’t dismiss the convenience of voice mail. Although voice mail may not be suitable for all patient-facing communication situations, it does offer many compelling advantages in the right scenarios.

Voice mail offers attractive benefits that can’t be overlooked. Consider these as you plan the optimum solutions to meet your communication needs. Voice mail just might be the missing element to your ideal communication strategy.

Consider these benefits of voice mail:

Cost-Effective Solution: Voice mail is a technology-based communications service. It doesn’t rely on the labor-intensive service inherent in personnel-based solutions. This means that communication using voice mail systems costs much less than using people-base services. As an automated software-based solution, voice mail provides an effective means to communicate, and to do so at the lowest cost.

24/7 Availability: Voice mail is also available 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week, 365-days-a-year. Voice mail doesn’t take vacations, go on break, or call in sick. Voice mail is always available, around the clock. And in today’s society that expects healthcare providers to respond to needs whenever they occur, voice mail is a solution for people regardless of when they decide to call.

Feature-Rich Options: As a technology-based communication solution, voice mail offers many feature-rich and highly effective communication options. These possibilities include greeting flexibility, such as auto attendant, call routing, and multiple announcements, along with message waiting notification, messages via email, and the option to connect to a person. And this last option brings up the next important benefit.

Complement Answering Service: Voice mail is a smart companion to live answering service. One popular option is to use voice mail to frontend your medical answering service. Let voice mail handle routine communication needs and answer FAQ-type questions without the need for human involvement. Yet any time callers want to, they can connect with your answering service for person-to-person communication.

Conversely voice mail is effective to backend your answering service. Your medical answering service staff can interact with your callers and then record your messages and other patient communication into voicemail. Once in voice mail, the system can smartly handle the delivery of those messages to you, when and where you prefer.

Communication Convenience: Voice mail also allows for the time shifting of communication. A significant portion of all telephone communication today doesn’t need to be done in real time. That is, two people do not need to directly talk to each other, but one can leave a message for the other person to retrieve later at his or her convenience. This serves to minimize work interruptions and increase employee efficiency.

Though many patients prefer the personalized assurance of talking to another person about their healthcare situation, this isn’t always necessary. Voice mail can fill the need by providing effective communications when callers don’t need to talk to another person.

Carefully consider the communication requirements of your facility, hospital, or practice, and see if voice mail is a solution that best fits your needs.

Learn more about voice mail from MedConnectUSA 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.


Do You Have a Disaster Recovery Plan for Your Communications Services?

How long could you stay in business if you lost your phone service and the ability to communicate with patients? And if you could continue to function, what would be the short-term impact to cash flow and the long-term impact on the viability of your organization?

These are heavy questions. That’s why forward-thinking leaders make a disaster recovery plan. A key part of any disaster recovery plan focuses on maintaining communications with your patients and callers. Did you know that most leading medical answering services are also able to provide essential communication services to you in the event of an emergency? These include weather-related incidents, natural disasters, and man-made calamities.

Choose your disaster recovery communications provider with care. They’ll need to get it right the first time. In an emergency, there are no second chances to respond right. When considering someone to provide disaster recovery communications services, make sure they have the following essential elements:

Backup Power: We’ll start our list of essentials with backup power. During a disaster, utility power is often at its least reliable condition. That’s why a disaster recovery answering service must have the ability to provide their own emergency power when necessary.

Backup power comes in two forms. The first is short-term power protection to guard against voltage sags, brownouts, and brief outages. The first defense in this is an uninterruptible power supply (UPS). This keeps computer systems and servers running regardless of what havoc occurs with the power company. For long-term outages, a generator can provide power for several hours or even several days. Make sure they have both options.

Offsite Data Storage: Another critical element is the off-site storage of data and computer files. Usually these are real-time, cloud-based solutions that allow for quick backup and recovery if any data is lost. More importantly, offsite data backup is invaluable if your answering service needs to route calls to an alternate facility or an emergency backup location. Without off-site data storage, making a location switch takes time and presents a challenge.

Redundant Locations: Is your answering service a single-site operation, or do they have multiple interconnected locations? This is another essential concern. If they have only one location, then they have a single point of failure. This is unacceptable if you expect them to provide a reliable backup in the event of an emergency.

Multiple Service Providers: Next on our list of essential requirements is having multiple vendors for both telephone and internet access. That way, if one company is unable to provide service, the other ones can take over. This often happens quickly, and in most cases the answering service clients never know a problem occurred.

Emergency Backup Facility: The fifth element is an emergency backup facility. This may be at a fixed location, or it might be a mobile solution. Either way make sure your disaster recovery answering service has provisions in place in the unlikely event they need to completely relocate their office. This must be set up in advance if it is to have any value.

Detailed Contingency Plans: Just as you are considering a disaster recovery plan for your healthcare business, so too should your medical answering service have a disaster recovery plan for their operation. In addition to the above steps, it’s critical they map out their response for potential disasters. In the middle of a crisis is not the time to wing it.

Instead they need a detailed checklist of the steps to take, and the order to take them, for all likely emergencies. Beyond that, they need established guidelines if an emergency falls outside the list of anticipated problems.

This degree of planning may seem unnecessary, and everyone hopes it is. But if a disaster occurs, you’ll be glad to know they made the necessary preparations.

Planning for the unexpected is smart business. It’s a lot like buying an insurance policy. You hope you’ll never need it, but if you do, you’ll be glad you have it. Don’t put off making your disaster recovery plan. Start today, and begin by calling your medical answering service.

Learn more about disaster recovery support from MedConnectUSA 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.


Providing Secure Messaging is More Than Good Business

If you’re part of the healthcare industry, you know the importance of protecting the personal information of your patients. Not only is this a legal requirement, but it’s also a wise business practice.

Secure messaging not only applies to your organization but also to your business associates (BA), such as your medical answering service. And while most medical answering services are quick to claim they offer secure messaging, not all of them do. That’s why it’s critical to make sure all your business associates, including your medical answering service, meet the industry’s highest standards.
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