Managing the After Hours Calls for a Medical Office
Small medical offices have unique needs that phone systems and live answering services do not manage effectively without using
a Virtual Receptionist.
A patient calls your office at 8pm to reschedule an appointment they have the next morning. What does your caller hear and how is the call handled then?
Small business phone systems quite often fall short when handling calls after a business is closed. They do not give the caller options to efficiently resolve the issue they are calling for. For some offices a simple voicemail will suffice for most of the calls. The caller can hear the office hours and leave a general voice message that someone will check in the morning.
If the doctor takes after hours calls then most small office phone systems fail. Here's why:
- Giving out the doctors personal cell phone or home phone number on your voicemail greeting gives the patient access to the doctor 24/7. This also requires the patient to write down the number during an urgent situation which may not be easy.
- Having a system that transfers calls to the doctor ties up two lines for the one call, if there are only two lines then another caller will get a busy signal. Or there may not be an available line to call out to the doctor if there are other callers leaving messages.
Forwarding calls directly to a live answering service have other issues:
- Expense. Live services, (even more so are those specifically for medical offices) are expensive and charge up to $.95 per minute after a monthly base charge. Double the minute charge if they transfer a call to a doctor.
- Callers will be put on hold during peak call times.
- Callers may be hung up on. Yes hard to believe but I've had it happen to me.
- The service may not be HIPAA compliantwhen delivering the message to the office.
- Handle multiple calls at once, regardless of the number of office lines.
- Allow the caller to leave a non-urgent voice message to change an appointment.
- Allow the caller to reach the on call doctor without writing down the number, hanging up and redialing.
- Keep the doctors personal phone numbers private.
- Alert the doctor that a call on their cell phone is a patient or pharmacy on the line before being connected using a Call Screen or Call Announce.
- Give the caller information they may be calling for (Hours, Website, etc.).
- Voice messages for doctor can be encrypted and password protected then delivered to office for HIPAA compliance.
Being a virtual system that is not built into the office phone system allows the system to be changed more easily. For instance the on call doctor can be changed automatically for a weekend or specific day. Or the change can be done remotely using a web portal.
Using a Virtual Receptionist will be more efficient in handling calls after hours for a small medical office.