Say Goodbye to Traditional Medical Answering Services: Why HIPAA-Compliant Automation Is the Future of Practice Call Handling
For years, medical practices have relied on live medical answering services to handle their phone calls, but with the rapid advancement of technology and automation, there is now a better way. From virtual receptionists to fully automated call center solutions, practices can take advantage of HIPAA-compliant options that offer efficient call handling while improving the patient experience and freeing up valuable resources for their medical practices.
This has been my personal experience as I look to improve and modernize my practice (a large ophthalmology specialty practice) over the years. In general, the average age of patients in my practice is 75 years, so one would expect that only a live person could best handle the calls we received. During the day, we had all of our calls going to our front desk staff, and after hours, calls were directed to a live call center. In some ways, this worked fine, but we learned that the calls coming in during the day often led to long hold times and multiple transfers, which frustrated patients. Our after-hours calls with the live call center were challenging not only for our patients but also for me and my partners. It definitely wasn’t optimal, to say the least. As the technology evolved, new options became available, and I started to explore ways to create better efficiencies, improve staff satisfaction, lower costs, and provide better patient experiences.
Traditional live answering services have their role, but one of the main issues for me is that they lack integration with electronic health records (EHR), leading to potential miscommunication and errors in patient care. Additionally, live answering services often don’t have an easy way to keep track of calls and the doctor recommendations that are made while the office is closed, potentially compromising patient care. Patients are often kept on hold for long periods of time, causing frustration and dissatisfaction, and providers, patients, and office staff waste a lot of extra time trying to sort out missed messages and follow-up calls. This is where technology and automation can make a real difference. When considering an automated medical answering service or an alternative to traditional live answering services, you will want to ensure a few things. First, it is essential that the service be HIPAA-compliant, reliable, and fully secure. Next, it would be incredibly helpful if the service could seamlessly link and integrate with your EHR. The link should work in both directions, meaning the doctor on call should be able to view vital patient information at the same time they are handling the call, and the call, when completed, should be documented and automatically imported into the EHR.
Additionally, automated medical answering services offer many other benefits and features, such as protecting the provider or doctor’s personal phone numbers and instead showing the main office number as the caller ID. The automated medical answering service can transcribe the patient’s message, offer prompts and greetings in alternative languages, and provide customizable call tree options. It also allows coverage of doctors and providers outside of the practice, with customizable call calendar options and back up logic. Additionally, automated medical answering services provide a way to easily change the covering provider and communicate with patients via phone calls, secure texting, and video calls. After years of using a live call center, we created a fully automated medical answering service called ConnectOnCall, and it has been game-changing for me. My patients are more satisfied with how they communicate with me and my practice, my staff feels more empowered, and I have been able to lower my costs and drive better efficiency across the organization. I sleep better at night, knowing that my patients and staff have a better way to engage and communicate with one another.
If your practice handles calls after hours, exploring alternatives to traditional answering services is worthwhile. I encourage you to check out ConnectOnCall as an option, as it has been improving how practices, doctors, and patients communicate for nearly ten years. Designed by doctors for doctors, ConnectOnCall is committed to providing the absolute best service.
Sign up for a free demo of ConnectOnCall today.