The healthcare industry has become extremely competitive over the last decade. This means that doctors and other health professionals now face increased pressure to provide quality care at lower costs. In order to meet these challenges, they often turn to outsourcing their administrative tasks.

Medical answering services offer a convenient way for physicians to manage their workload. They also save time and money by reducing the amount of paperwork involved in patient interactions. If you are considering working with a physician answer service, here are some of the most important things you should know.

What is a Medical Physician’s Answering Service?

A physician answering service answers phone calls for medical practices, either during off hours or 24/7. The service answers the phone and screens calls to take messages, schedule appointments, and forward the most urgent messages to on-call doctors.

A medical answering service allows doctors and nurses to focus on what matters best — caring for patients. Doctors can set up a patient communication system that works for them. 

For example, a physician answering service can filter calls based on what they are about. Calls about scheduling appointments can go to voicemail so that office staff can schedule those appointments later. Calls that are urgent and possible medical emergencies can be filtered through to the physician right away. Other non-emergency calls can be saved for later so that the doctor can focus on the most important issues first. 

Benefits of Medical Answering Services

Hiring an answering service can be beneficial for both your practice and your staff. If you are looking for ways to cut costs, outsourcing call-taking duties can be one way to do it. When patients contact a medical office, they typically expect an immediate answer.

Outsourcing call-taking duties allows your staff to spend less time handling calls and more time focusing on other tasks. Call answering services provide quality care and ensure that your patients receive the best possible experience. They also offer 24/7 customer support, allowing you to rest assured, knowing that your patients’ needs are being met even when your office is closed. This is an important part of keeping your patients happy. Pediatricians for example, need to have a 24/7 answering service because parents need to be able to access medical advice at all times. 

How To Choose The Right Medical Answering Service

Medical answering services are becoming increasingly popular among small practices because of their cost-effectiveness. However, it’s important to consider several factors before making a decision. Here are some things to think about when choosing the right one:

1. What type of service do you need?

Do you just need help with scheduling appointments, or do you need to provide health information or advice? If you don’t know exactly what you need, it’s hard to know which company to partner with.

2. How much does it cost?

Most companies offer packages based on monthly volume. You can usually choose one based on how many calls per month you receive and whether you want live operators or automated agents. 

3. Who will answer your phone calls?

Are you looking for a local provider or one that serves customers nationwide? Will there be someone on hand 24/7? Does the service allow you to customize your greeting?

4. Customer Satisfaction

This is often overlooked, but it’s very important. Ask yourself if you feel comfortable talking to a representative over the phone. Can you tell how well-trained they are? Do they speak clearly and professionally? Do they listen carefully to your concerns?

How Much Does a Medical Answering Service Cost?

A medical answering service’s charges will vary depending on your needs and call volume. The price varies depending on the type of service you choose and how many hours per week you want your service to run.

Flat Rate Medical Answering Service Pricing

The flat rate model is one of the most popular types of medical answering service pricing. This type of plan charges customers a set monthly fee based on how many calls they receive per month.

Flat rate services are a good idea if you get a lot of calls. Your costs will stay the same, even if your call volume fluctuates or is unusually high. 

Per-Call Medical Answering Service Pricing

Some medical answering services charge customers based on how much time they spend on each call or for each call individually. These additional fees can vary widely depending on the provider. It may be a good idea if you run a highly-specialized practice where you do not get a lot of after-hour calls. That way, you are not paying for additional coverage time that is not being used. 

What Do I Need to Keep in Mind When Choosing a Medical Answering Service?

There are many different types of medical answering services available today. Some companies specialize in one type of service, while others offer multiple options. It’s important to know exactly what you’re looking for before choosing a company. Here are some things to consider when selecting a medical answering service provider.

Is the Service Provider Trustworthy?

The company that you choose will work directly with your patients, which is why you should do everything to make sure that company is trustworthy. A company that isn’t could cause a lot of problems for your company, resulting in losing patients. 

One of the best ways to assess a company’s trustworthiness is by reviewing its reputation. A company that has a good reputation for customer service, likely has a good reputation for being trustworthy. 

You can also review performance stats. A company that performs well is likely to be trusted by its customers. 

Look for a company that is open about its methods for vetting staff members. Giving staff members access to your patients is a big responsibility. You want to make sure that the people talking to your clients are not only trustworthy, but also capable of handling medical calls properly. There are privacy laws and policy guidelines to consider.

Are the Services Provided Too Much or Too Little for My Needs?

Medical answering services are an important component of any practice. While you want to make sure you choose one that offers everything you need, it’s important to ask yourself some key questions before signing up.

Does the Pricing Model Make Sense for My Business?

The pricing model of physician answering services can fit most businesses. Which one depends on your call volume and business needs. Either way, it is easier to keep investments in different systems under control. All you have to do is analyze your business’ calls and see which option is better over the long run.

Infrastructure and Backup Services

There are times when your IT systems might fail. Make sure that the answering service that you choose has sufficient infrastructure and backup services to keep running after an emergency. That way, customers that call in after an emergency stops your in-office systems from working, can still get the help that they need from your remote answering service. 

Transparency

Since answering services work with your customers, you need transparent access to information. Your answering service should have policies about transparency and making sure that you get the information that you need. This also applies to getting performance stats and other information about the services being provided. If a company makes it hard to gauge its performance, then they are not likely to be a good option for you.

Finding a HIPAA Compliant Answering Service

HIPAA regulations govern how medical organizations must protect patient data. This includes protecting it against unauthorized access, theft, loss, misuse, alteration, disclosure, unavailability, destruction, and improper disposal. Organizations that fail to comply with HIPAA face fines and penalties.

Your healthcare answering service should be compliant with HIPAA requirements. Here are some things to look out for:

Security

Does the service offer encryption technology? Is there a firewall? What about antivirus software? How does the provider handle data backup procedures?

Data Retention

What happens to the data once it leaves the organization? Do they keep records for seven years? Ten years? Forever?

Audit Requirement

Are there audits conducted annually? If so, what are the key findings? Have those findings been addressed?

Physical Location

Where do they keep information? Who has access to the server room? How often is it checked?

Try an Answering Service for Yourself

There are many answering services out there, but the best way to know if one is right for your practice is to try it yourself. You can see firsthand how effective a good answering service can be at helping you manage your practice. Don’t wait, and sign up for a medical answering service today to make running your practice easier and less stressful for you and your patients.

If you’re ready to get started with a professional answering service, we’re here to help. Contact Answer Aide by calling (866) 427-3500 or by filling out our online form. We’re happy to partner with you to support your business while it grows.