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Now Is a Good Time for a Checkup—With Your Answering Service

We know that regular checkups are in important part of taking care of our physical health. We also check in with our financial advisor and do periodic oil changes on our car.

In the same manner it's wise to have seasonal checkups with your medical answering service to make sure they're ready to serve you and your patients in the best possible way. As summer ends and we move into fall, now is a great time to schedule a checkup with your answering service.

Here are some things to consider 

Staff Changes

Over time employees come and go. Healthcare providers join your practice or clinic, while support staff may arrive and depart on a regular basis. With all that's involved in onboarding new members to your team, as well as saying goodbye, it's a lot of details to keep track of.

In addition to changes in staffing, a related issue is changes in roles. Employees may take on new assignments or move into new positions, with new responsibilities.

Letting your answering service know about these changes often gets overlooked, but they need up-to-date information to properly handle your calls and represent you appropriately to your patients.

Review your employee roster and their duties with your answering service to help them better help you and your patients. Don't leave your answering service in the dark.

Update Contact Information

Another thing that changes is contact information. Employees may get a new home phone or cell number. Perhaps alternate forms of contact have changed. An answering service that doesn't have the right information or accurate numbers to reach your staff will encounter roadblocks as they work for you.

As you review your employee list with your answering service, doublecheck all contact information that they have to make sure it's current.

Key Practice Details

Did you change your hours? Did your office move or add a location? Check to make sure your answering service knows. Too often no one communicates this to your answering service, and they're still giving patients your old information. Also look at what your answering service has listed for alternate phone numbers for your office, as well as your main email address, fax number, and private line.

New Call-Handling Protocols

In the ever-changing healthcare environment, our processes must adapt with it, striving to best respond to evolving conditions and expectations. Make sure your medical answering service knows about your preferred call-handling protocols. If they're operating under old instructions that no longer apply, it will be hard for them to do the job you want them to.

This includes defining what constitutes an urgent call, what's referred to the ER, and what can wait for the office in the morning. Related to this is on-call procedures. Is your answering service operating under your current expectations? You can avoid a lot of frustration for yourself, your staff, and your answering service when you verify that the instructions you once gave them are still what you want them to follow. 

Conclusion

Now is a great time to schedule a checkup with your medical answering service to make sure they're aware of staff changes and how to reach them, know the correct information about your practice, and have up-to-date instructions on how you want your calls handled.

Don't wait for a problem to occur to prod you to review the information and instructions your answering service has. If you and they are operating under different parameters, frustration will result. And no one wants that.

Now is a great time for a checkup with your medical answering service.

Learn how medical answering service from MedConnectUSA can help your practice, clinic, or facility. Then get a free quote to discover how affordable their healthcare communication services are. Peter Lyle DeHaan is a freelance writer and call center authority.

Source: http://medconnectusa.com/blog/now-is-a-good-time-for-a-checkup-with-your-answering-service

Publish Date: August 23, 2018 5:00 AM


What If You Forget to Forward Your Phone?

Most medical offices and clinics use call forwarding service to send their phone calls to their medical answering service. Call forwarding service is an inexpensive feature provided by your local phone company. Though there are other options to send your calls to your answering service, call forwarding is the most common and convenient—providing someone remembers to activate it each day.

But what happens if you forget to forward your phone line to your answering service? Or what happens if you forwarded your phone, but for some reason it didn't work or stopped working? That's a real problem.
Here are your options: ​

Go Back to Your Office to Activate Call-Forwarding

The typical solution is to make a return trip to your office. That's a hassle, but often it's the only option. If you live close to your office, it's a mild inconvenience. However, if you live further away or must deal with traffic or bad weather, making that return trip is downright irritating, not to mention time-consuming.

Even worse, what if you're headed out of town, perhaps for a well-deserved vacation or weekend getaway? Then the break you so desperately need will have to wait.

One solution is to arrange for the staff member who lives closest to the office to serve as the emergency person to handle this. They make a return trip to the office, activate call forwarding, and then return to what they were doing. Though this is far from convenient, it has the overall lowest interruption on you and the rest of your staff. But what if the designated person isn't available? That's a problem.

Let Phone Calls Go Unanswered

​The alternate solution is to leave your phone unforwarded and simply let calls ring. Though shocking, this sometimes seems like the only solution to a harried healthcare worker who desperately needs time away from the office in hopes of achieving some work-life balance.

This, however, is a grave disservice to patients and callers, which may have significant negative side effects to their continued use of your healthcare services. Certainly this option isn't ideal, but it's understandable why some healthcare providers may choose it, particularly after an especially difficult day.

Use Remote Call Forwarding

​The good news is that there's a third option. It's called remote call forwarding. When your office phone number is provisioned with remote call forwarding, you can activate call forwarding remotely from any phone. This means there's no driving back to the office to activate it or opting to leave your phone unforwarded—and unanswered.

As a bonus, if you let your medical answering service know your access code, they can keep it on file for future use. This means that they can remotely activate call forwarding for you if your office staff forgets or if it becomes deactivated for some reason.

Remote call forwarding is a feature that you must set up with your telephone company in advance. There's a small monthly fee for it, but it's certainly worth the peace of mind that it provides knowing you have a backup plan to activate call forwarding and won't need to make an extra trip to the office. You can place the order directly with your phone company or ask your medical answering service to order it for you.

Conclusion

Having the remote call forwarding feature configured for your practice or clinic's office telephone will allow you or your medical answering service the capability to forward your phone if someone forgets to do it or if call forwarding becomes deactivated for any reason.

It's a low-cost insurance policy that will save time and frustration if you need to remotely call forward your line. Set it up today, and you won't have to worry about call forwarding problems in the future.

Learn how medical answering service from MedConnectUSA can help your practice, clinic, or facility. Then get a free quote to discover how affordable their healthcare communication services are. Peter Lyle DeHaan is a freelance writer and call center authority.

Source: http://medconnectusa.com/blog/what-if-you-forget-to-forward-your-phone

Publish Date: August 16, 2018 5:00 AM


Discover How a Professional Medical Answering Service Deals with the Hold Problem

No one wants to be placed on hold, but it does occur. There's no way around it. This happens in your office, clinic, or medical facility. It also happens at your answering service. The solution isn't to eliminate placing callers on hold—because that's impossible. The key is to use the right approach when it's necessary to push the hold button.

The Normal Way of Handling Calls Isn't the Best Way

Most answering services—just like most offices—use the "call-juggling" approach to handle more than one call at a time. With this method, the receptionist places caller number 1 on hold when line 2 rings. Then they put line 2 on hold and go back to line 1.

But what happens when a third call comes in? They put caller 1 on hold to answer number 3. Then they put number 3 on hold to go back to number 1, but before they do, they usually make a quick check on caller number 2 to make sure they're still there and not getting too frustrated.

Now, what was caller number 1 calling about? At about the time the receptionist remembers, she notices that caller number two has hung up, but then a fourth call rings in. She apologizes to caller number 1 before putting them on hold—again. Then she answers caller number 4 only to discover that it's caller number 2 who hung up and called back, hoping for more attention the second time.

Is your head swimming?

By now caller number 1 is frustrated. Caller number 3 thinks they've been forgotten, and caller number 4—who's really caller 2—is ready to resort to yelling to get the receptionist's attention.

That's the normal way most people handle phone calls. And it's mostly wrong. It irritates callers, is inefficient, and produces errors because of all the call juggling and getting people's stories mixed up. Nothing good comes from it.

An Enlightened Approach of Answering Calls Provides Better Outcomes

A better way to do this is fairer to callers, improves call efficiency, and reduces errors. It gives priority to the person you're talking to and lets you focus on them until their call is complete. Then you move on to the next call. It's that simple.
At an answering service that uses this progressive method of handling calls, most of the time an operator is available to answer a call when it rings. She answers the call, gives the caller her complete focus, and completes the call, never needing to place them on hold.
If every operator at the medical answering service is already on a call when a new one comes in, the answering service system will automatically answer the new call and play a special greeting that's developed specifically for that client. This new caller, which is now on hold, will go to the next available operator who finishes up her current call.

Using this approach, most callers are never put on hold. And for the minority who are, they're only placed on hold once. And the average hold time is less than thirty seconds. Most people are willing to wait that long, which isn't very long at all.

Conclusion

When it comes to the telephone, there's no way to answer calls and avoid placing callers on hold. However, when done right—using an enlightened approach to managing calls—most calls are never put on hold and those that are only wait for an average of thirty seconds or less.

This is the smart way of handling calls. Does your medical answering service do that? If not, it's time to find one that does.

Learn how medical answering service from MedConnectUSA can help your practice, clinic, or facility. Then get a free quote to discover how affordable their healthcare communication services are. Peter Lyle DeHaan is a freelance writer and call center authority.

Source: http://medconnectusa.com/blog/the-right-way-to-put-callers-on-hold

Publish Date: July 27, 2018 5:00 AM


Is Your Medical Answering Service an Asset or a Liability?

If you view your medical answering service as a necessary evil for your practice, clinic, or healthcare facility, then one of two things are clear. Either you have the wrong perspective about the role they play, or you have the wrong answering service.

When you have the right medical answering service handling your calls, they're an asset to your operation. Equally true is that the wrong answering service is a liability. 

When a Medical Answering Service is a Liability

Does your answering service frustrate your patients? Maybe your answering service is rude, places patients on hold for a long time, or rushes through the call.

Does your answering service frustrate you? Perhaps they don't take accurate messages, fail to listen to your patients, or reach the wrong on-call person.

Are you concerned your answering service hurts your relationship with your patients? A poorly run or poorly staffed answering service will actually motivate your patients to switch healthcare providers. Few healthcare providers want to lose a patient, and most do whatever they can to retain them. Is your answering service effectively working to thwart your objective of providing quality healthcare?

Handling a call poorly can sometimes be even worse than not answering the call in the first place. If you feel that way about your answering service, then they're a liability. You'd be better off without them. Certainly you'd be better off by hiring a quality answering service.

Just as a poor answering service is a liability, a quality medical answering service is an asset.

When a Medical Answering Service is an Asset

 Do your patients ever complement you on your answering service? It can happen. In fact, if you have the right answering service, it should. When it does, your medical answering service is an asset to your operation. Here are some of the ways this can happen.

The staff at a quality medical answering service is both professional and personable. That's what you want and what your callers expect. When done correctly, your answering service is an extension of what happens in your office or clinic. Regardless if your patients are present in your facility or calling over the phone after hours, they should receive the same empathetic, caring communication.

This means that your answering service answers calls in a timely manner, greets your patients pleasantly, and ends each call positively. In between, they help your patient achieve what they called to do. Your medical answering service may take a message, schedule an appointment, or give out information. If the call is an urgent medical situation, they'll reach your appropriate on-call person or direct the patient to the ER, in accordance with your instructions.

Just as you became a healthcare provider to make a positive difference in people's lives, your medical answering service can be—and should be—an extension of that. When they are, they're an asset.

Conclusion

 If your answering service is a liability to your operation by irritating patients and driving them to switch providers, then you have the wrong answering service. It's time to find the right one. Select a professional medical answering service that can be a true asset to your operation. They'll delight your patients and help foster the good relationship you've developed with them.

When you have the right medical answering service they're an asset that helps you attract new patients and keep the ones you have.

 

Learn how medical answering service from MedConnectUSA can help your practice, clinic, or facility. Then get a free quote to discover how affordable their healthcare communication services are. Peter Lyle DeHaan is a freelance writer and call center authority.

Source: http://medconnectusa.com/blog/is-your-medical-answering-service-an-asset-or-a-liability

Publish Date: July 20, 2018 5:00 AM


Discover Why an Award-Winning Medical Answering Service Is Important

Don't you wish there was a way to know if a medical answering service actually provided the high-quality service they claim to? Wouldn't this be nice to know before you switch? Fortunately, there is a way. But few people know about it. Here's the secret.

When you select an award-winning medical answering service, you've chosen one of the best answering services in the country, even the world. Just make sure the award they've won is the ATSI Award of Excellence. 

What Is the Award of Excellence?

The Award of Excellence is an annual quality assurance testing program, handled by an independent third-party evaluation organization. With a history spanning over two decades, the Award of Excellence program places test calls to leading answering services to evaluate their overall call quality, accuracy, and attention to detail. They record these calls. Later a team of independent judges evaluates each call. These call evaluators consider twenty key areas that lead to call excellence and customer service distinction.

The testing lasts several months. Those answering services that achieve an average high level of proficiency on all calls earn the coveted ATSI Award of Excellence.

There are three key reasons why the Award of Excellence is so highly sought after and why the award winners are so honored. First, the Award of Excellence program is administered by an independent third-party. They have no incentivized or financial interest in the outcome. Their singular goal is the integrity of the program. Second, each call is evaluated by multiple, impartial, and specially-trained judges who don't know the identity of the answering services they evaluate. Third, this program has years of success behind it and is continually tweaked to address ever-changing industry conditions and heightened customer expectations.

The result is a program with a high degree of integrity that the industry can celebrate as being both accurate and impartial.

What Does the Award of Excellence Mean?

Of the hundreds and hundreds of answering services around the world, only a few are brave enough to subject themselves to the rigorous Award of Excellence testing. And of those that apply and hope to win, only a fraction do.

This means that the Award of Excellence winners are truly the best of the best.

In fact, each year many otherwise-notable answering services are disappointed to learn they've fallen a bit short and failed to win the Award of Excellence credential.

Why Does the Award of Excellence Matter?

Even more significant is that this is an accumulative award, with some answering services having earned it for multiple years. For these leading answering services, it proves year-after-year consistency and high quality that its clients can depend upon 24/7/365.

Finally, the Award of Excellence covers all answering services, and not just medical answering services. When you look at the list of esteemed winners, very few of them focus exclusively on the healthcare industry. Choose one that does.

Conclusion

If you want the best medical answering service to answer your practice or clinic's calls, look for an award-winning answering service. Seek one that has won the Award of Excellence. And then choose one that has earned it for many years in a row. This is a quality medical answering service that you can depend on for every call, every time.

In case you're wondering, MedConnectUSA is an ATSI Award of Excellence winner for 2018. Even more notable, they have a thirteen-year Award of Excellence winning streak of providing excellent service to the healthcare community.

 

Learn how medical answering service from MedConnectUSA can help your practice, clinic, or facility. Then get a free quote to discover how affordable their healthcare communication services are. Peter Lyle DeHaan is a freelance writer and call center authority.

Source: http://medconnectusa.com/blog/discover-why-an-award-winning-medical-answering-service-is-important

Publish Date: July 13, 2018 5:00 AM


Select a Medical Answering Service That’s Available When You Need It

Some answering services place restrictions on when you can use them. Perhaps you picked a rate plan that locks you into a certain schedule that doesn't allow for variations. And some answering services don't answer holiday calls unless you specify that you need them to. Or maybe you signed up for after-hours coverage, only to find out they won't take your overflow calls during the day.

With all these things to cause problems, that's why it's important to use a full-service medical answering service that provides you with round-the-clock coverage, whenever you need it. This gives you the most flexibility and puts you in control. And isn't this why you hired a medical answering service in the first place?

A full-service medical answering service with total, around-the-clock coverage provides you with all these options:

After-Hours Coverage

Most practices and clinics are concerned with after-hours telephone coverage. They'll handle phone calls when they're in the office treating patients, and they want you to cover calls the rest of the time, when they're not in the office. This makes sense.  

Weekend Coverage

In addition to after-hours coverage during the weekdays, it's important to have your phone answered on the weekends as well. This provides continuous phone coverage outside of your business hours, seven days a week. 

Holiday Coverage

Not all answering services answer your phones on holidays. However, if you're in healthcare, this is a problem. That's because your patients need you on holidays just as much as any other day of the year. Make sure holiday phone answering is part of your medical answering service's coverage offering. 

Office-Hours Coverage

The opposite of after-hours coverage is office-hours coverage. This is ideal if you need help answering your phones during breaks, lunches, and vacations. It's also ideal for answering your phone during staff meetings and for overflow calls when your staff gets busy.  

24/7 Coverage

Combine these and it gives you around-the-clock, 24/7 coverage from your medical answering service to handle your phone calls whenever you need them to. Unfortunately, for some medical answering services, their rate plans or processes can get in the way of this. Make sure your answering service doesn't have any of these restrictions that will keep them from answering your calls when you need them to.  

Flexible Coverage

 The results of after-hours coverage, weekend coverage, holiday coverage, and office hours coverage provides you with 24/7 comprehensive coverage. The outcome is the flexibility you need to manage your calls the way you need to, when you need to.

Conclusion

 When you go with a comprehensive medical answering service, this means your medical answering service works with you to help you communicate with your patients and callers whenever and however you and they want it to happen.

This is why that when you use a medical answering service, make sure they have an always-available attitude when it comes to you and your calls.

Learn how medical answering service from MedConnectUSA can help your practice, clinic, or facility. Then get a free quote to discover how affordable their healthcare communication services are. Peter Lyle DeHaan is a freelance writer and call center authority.

Source: http://medconnectusa.com/blog/select-a-medical-answering-service-that-s-available-when-you-need-it

Publish Date: June 29, 2018 5:00 AM


Don’t Let Call Forwarding Be the Weak Link with Your Medical Answering Service

The most common way to get your practice or clinic's telephone calls to your medical answering service is by using call forwarding. Though there are other options, call forwarding is by far the most popular and the most flexible.

Most of the time call forwarding works exactly as expected, fast and reliably. However, sometimes problems occur. A common one is forgetting to manually activate call forwarding before you leave for the day. And what if you accidentally forward to the wrong number? That's a second concern. Another issue is a phone system problem, which keeps you from accessing your phone lines to activate call forwarding. A fourth is when weather conditions and natural disasters keep you from getting to your office. Finally, a fifth potential problem can happen when a phone company update interrupts your phone service.

These scenarios do not usually occur, but when they do, that's a problem for both your practice and your patients. Fortunately, some advanced medical answering services have solutions to address this. 

Call-Forwarding Monitoring

Call forwarding works most of the time and we take it for granted, but when it doesn't work, it catches us off guard. Unfortunately, most organizations don't realize there's a problem with their call forwarding until someone tells them. But very few people will take the time to let you know there's a problem. Most will just ignore it and continue with their day.

That's why it's important to periodically check call forwarding and make sure it's working. This ensures you will never miss a call. Though you can do this yourself, will you remember? Will you have time? Or you can ask your medical answering service to check for you. Many will. 

Call-Forwarding Activation

If call forwarding isn't working, the usual recourse is to activate it from your office. That's a problem if you're not there. And call forwarding seldom stops working when it's convenient to go to your office and forward your phone lines.

Fortunately, advanced medical answering services can do this for you. If your phone lines aren't forwarding properly, they can forward your calls for you. And they can do this quickly. Imagine, no more panicked trips to your office in the middle of the night to forward your lines. If you've gone with the right answering service, they can do it for you. It's simple and fast. It saves you time, and it saves you aggravation. 

Call-Forwarding Assurance

When you combine call-forwarding monitoring and call-forwarding activation, you end up with call-forwarding assurance. Call-forwarding assurance provides you with peace of mind that your calls are being answered, 24/7. This gives you confidence that when your patients need to reach you, they can. And isn't this why you have a medical answering service in the first place? 

Conclusion

Call forwarding your calls to your medical answering service is easy to do and puts you in control. However, even though call forwarding is highly reliable, it's not foolproof. That's why you need call-forwarding monitoring and call-forwarding activation to provide you with call-forwarding assurance.

Contact your medical answering service today to make sure they can provide you with call-forwarding assurance. You'll be glad you did.

Learn how medical answering service from MedConnectUSA can help your practice, clinic, or facility. Then get a free quote to discover how affordable their healthcare communication services are.

Peter Lyle DeHaan is a freelance writer and call center authority. 

Source: http://medconnectusa.com/blog/don-t-let-call-forwarding-be-the-weak-link-with-your-medical-answering-service

Publish Date: June 22, 2018 5:00 AM


Medical Answering Services Don’t Go on Vacation, So That You Can!

As we move into summer, we think about vacations. Or at least we should. Vacations are a time to take a break from work, enjoy time with family and friends, and come back refreshed, ready to reengage with our work and our patients. 

Take a Vacation

Taking a vacation is one smart way to take care of ourselves, so that we can better take care of our patients. Hopefully you already have one scheduled and are looking forward to it. But if you don't have it scheduled, don't try to squeeze one in, like it's one more thing on your already-too-busy to-do list.

Instead, be intentional about your vacation. Plan for it, so you may enjoy it and return energized and ready to dive back into your work. 

Plan for Vacation

Having a good vacation requires planning. Planning prepares you for vacation and enables you to get the most benefit from it. An unplanned or poorly planned vacation runs the risk of increasing your stress level, not decreasing it.

You never want to come back from vacation, needing to return to work so you can rest up. That's why you need to plan.

A vacation doesn't need to be extravagant or expensive. You don't even need to go far away. While an extravagant trip to an exotic place may be both enjoyable and memorable, a simple vacation, close to home, may be just as restful and rejuvenating. The point is to plan a break from work. 

Enjoy Your Vacation

One of the goals of a vacation is to have fun. An enjoyable vacation is one with a pleasant balance of activity and downtime. Don't pack so much into your vacation that you move breathlessly from one event to the next, from one day to the next, or from one location to the next.

Having a balanced schedule starts with good planning, but even with the best plans sometimes a mid-course correction is wise. You may decide to cut out something midway through your trip, to have a down day with nothing special planned. Often, doing nothing is better than trying to do too much. 

Return from Vacation

Some people make the mistake of returning from vacation late in the evening on the day before they return to work. Don't be that person.

First, they return to work exhausted. Second, that leaves no buffer for unexpected travel delays, such as car problems, road construction, or canceled flights. These things can elevate the stress levels you just spent your whole vacation trying to erase.

A wise approach is to return home a full day early. This allows for an unhurried transition from vacation mode back to work mode. 

Conclusion

You may opt to close your practice for vacations so you and your staff all go at the same time. Or you may stagger vacations throughout the summer months. Either way your medical answering service can help pick up the slack, handling your communication needs during vacations.

As far as the implication that the staff at MedConnectUSA doesn't go on vacation so that you can, is a bit of an exaggeration. Vacations are important for your medical answering service staff, too. It's just that they're carefully coordinated so that there will be a full staff in the office at all times, ready to take your calls when you're not in your office.

Have a great vacation!

Learn how medical answering service from MedConnectUSA can help your practice, clinic, or facility. Then get a free quote to discover how affordable their healthcare communication services are. Peter Lyle DeHaan is a freelance writer and call center authority. 

Source: http://medconnectusa.com/blog/medical-answering-services-don-t-go-on-vacation-so-that-you-can

Publish Date: June 15, 2018 5:00 AM


How Long Do Your Callers Really Wait on Hold?

When we call someone, we want them to answer our call quickly. Many medical answering services focus on this basic desire. They assert that they answer all calls fast. They might claim to answer within one ring or maybe two. Or they may state that they answer every call within a certain number of seconds.

Though this sounds impressive, there's a downside to this. To answer every call fast, there's a trade-off. That trade-off is being stuck on hold. At these "answer immediately" services, how long are patients on hold? As it turns out, it may be quite a long time.

A related question is how many times are they put on hold? Most people tolerate being placed on hold once, but what about two, three, or four or more times? Being asked to hold repeatedly will irritate even the most patient of people. But long hold times or repeated holds are the side effects of answering services that try to answer all calls as fast as possible.

It turns out there's a right way and a wrong way to handle calls. 

The Wrong Way to Handle Calls

To answer calls fast, many answering services make a practice of answering a call immediately and then placing the caller on hold. That way they can answer the next call fast, too. This continues until all the calls are answered and placed on hold. Then they turn their attention to all those callers waiting on hold. Is this fair? Is it right? Most people say "no," but that's what you must put up with when your answering service answers every call as soon as possible.

Then, to make the situation even worse, once they take you off hold and begin talking to you, they'll put you on hold again to answer another new call. Then they'll put that new caller on hold. Then they come back to you and try to pick up where they left off. Of course, each transition takes time and introduces a delay as they try to remember what you told them and what they need to do.

Here's a related example. Say it's time to check out at the grocery store. You head to the checkout line and wait for your turn. That's both efficient and fair, right? Now let's turn this on its head.

What would happen if a cashier tried to ring up purchases for three customers at the same time? She would ring up one item from the first customer, then an item from the second customer, and then a couple items from the third one. Then she goes back and rings up two more items for the first customer, before diverting her attention back to the second customer.

Nonsense, you say! And you're correct. But this is precisely what these answer-quick answering services are doing with their answer-fast-and-hold strategy. It's inefficient, it's disrespectful, and it's not fair.

As a result, patients and callers suffer. Don't use an answering service that makes your callers suffer. 

The Right Way to Handle Calls

Fortunately, not all medical answering services process calls in this nonsensical, bizarre way. An enlightened approach is to take one call at a time. This means that patients hold once until the next available person is available. Once they answer a patient's call, there's no need to put them on hold again. They stay with that patient and give them their complete focus until they finish the call.

Not only is this respectful and fair to patients, this is also the most efficient way to handle calls. And efficiency is important because it reduces overall wait times for callers and speeds patients to completing their calls as quickly as possible. This approach minimizes errors and caller frustrations.

Answering one call at a time is the right way to handle calls. 

Conclusion

 If you want a medical answering service that has your patients' best interest in mind, don't go with one that answers every call quickly. Instead select one that handles one call at a time. This is the best way to serve your patients and show them the respect they deserve.

Learn how medical answering service from MedConnectUSA can help your practice, clinic, or facility. Then get a free quote to discover how affordable their healthcare communication services are. Peter Lyle DeHaan is a freelance writer and call center authority.

Source: http://medconnectusa.com/blog/how-long-do-your-callers-really-wait-on-hold-1

Publish Date: May 25, 2018 5:00 AM


Does Your Medical Answering Service Offer Award-Winning Service?

Every medical answering service claims that they provide quality service. But how can you know this for sure without first trying them?

You could ask around and see what other people think. Assuming you can find someone to ask, how much weight should you put on their opinion? It's hard to know. They're likely biased. Or you could look at online reviews, but those are usually from outliers who are either very happy or very upset. So how much do these reviews really help? Not so much.

However, there's one sure-fire way to know ahead of time if a medical answering service actually provides the high-quality service that they claim to offer. Are you ready for this secret? Here goes. 

The ATSI Award of Excellence

 Ask your prospective medical answering service if they have won any awards from independent, third-party organizations that test and evaluate answering service quality. The leading organization for this in the United States is ATSI (the Association of TeleServices International). They conduct an annual evaluation of leading answering services and award the best of the best each June.

If you want to hire a quality medical answering service, make sure that they've won the ATSI Award of Excellence. And for further validation, know that this is an accumulative award, so look for a medical answering service that has earned it for several years.

Here's why the Award of Excellence is so valuable.

Maintains an Independent Assessment

A quality assessment conducted by an independent, third-party organization, provides conclusive results. Because an outside organization completed the quality review, you can enjoy confidence over the validity of the results. Winners of the ATSI Award of Excellence have a high level of proven quality that you can count on.  

Provides an Unbiased Evaluation

To determine call quality, at least two trained judges independently assess each call. Since they don't know which answering service handled the call, there's no way for unintentional bias to creep into their analysis. And, in the unlikely event of a disagreement between the two judges, a third reviewer serves as the final arbitrator. The results are a score you can count on. 

Meets Established Criteria

The trained quality judges follow a preset list of criteria to determine a numeric score for each call. Only those answering services that surpass a high, cumulative score on all their calls earn the right to receive the Award of Excellence. The benchmarks are so high that many answering services don't even bother to take part in the program. And of those that are brave enough to try, only a fraction of them meet the high standards needed to earn the award.  

Evolves to Meet Changing Expectations

Each year the judging criteria undergoes a re-evaluation to ensure it still meets customer expectations, which are ever-changing and more demanding. When needed, the evaluation standards are changed to meet the heightened expectations of answering service customers.

In case you're wondering, MedConnectUSA is proud to be a twelve-year, diamond-plus recipient of the ATSI Award of Excellence.

Learn how medical answering service from MedConnectUSA can help your practice, clinic, or facility. Then get a free quote to discover how affordable their healthcare communication services are. Peter Lyle DeHaan is a freelance writer and call center authority. 

Source: http://medconnectusa.com/blog/does-your-medical-answering-service-offer-award-winning-service

Publish Date: May 11, 2018 5:00 AM


How Secure Is Your Medical Answering Service?

If your medical answering service can answer your calls, do you really care if they run a secure call center? You should. But what does secure mean? A secure answering service takes steps to protect all aspects of their processes to ensure they properly handle your account and your information.

There are many facets to this. Here are some things to consider when it comes to the security provided by your medical answering service.

Operational Security

Among other things, operational security looks at providing continuous availability to serve you the best way possible. This includes having backup power in the form of UPSs and generators to provide the power needed to operate their facility should they lose utility power. Similarly, they have multiple phone and internet providers so that if one goes down, the others take over. And you'll never know the difference.

Operational security also means having a disaster recovery plan. Though your medical answering service hopes to never have to use their disaster recovery plan, it's there to make sure they can always serve you. Critical to a disaster recovery plan is having multiple locations and using secure cloud-based backup. Having multiple locations ensures they can always take your calls regardless of the circumstances, such as during a blizzard or a utility outage.

Information Security

 

Next, consider HIPAA. Among other things, HIPAA compliance requires that medical answering services keep protected health information (PHI) safe and secure during both transmission and storage. A key element of complying with HIPAA regulations is using secure messaging when communicating with clients and their on-call personnel.  

Data Center Security

A final security consideration, and the most important of them all, is data center security. The best medical answering services use certified tier 5 data centers. A tier 5 data center is a more recent development. It builds on all the requirements of tier 4, which was once the gold standard for data center security. Certified tier 5 data center security surpasses tier 4, taking security to an even higher level.

The first thing you'll notice about leading data centers is armed security! Yes, they're serious about limiting access to their facility. They make sure only authorized personnel can gain entry. In addition to armed guards, they also have several other levels of security. Altogether, these steps prevent the tampering of equipment and computer systems.

Many of the other characteristics of a certified tier 5 data center are quite technical. Though not to make something complex appear too simple, these advanced techniques fall into three general categories:

  • Enhanced power system capabilities: servers and systems require stable, continuous power to operate.
  • Rigorous facility cooling provisions: computers don't function well if they get hot.
  • Robust carrier precautions: this includes redundancy, backups, and dual access pathways, along with denial of service mitigation.

The outcome of using a certified tier 5 data center is a highly reliable system that boasts an unprecedented uptime (run time) expectation. 

Security Overview

 Too many medical answering services don't take the security of their operations, information, and data center seriously enough. And much of the time, this doesn't matter—until it does. And when it does matter, you want to make sure you're using a medical answering service that takes it seriously. The status of your practice or clinic—both now and for the future—depends on it.

Learn how medical answering service from MedConnectUSA can help your practice, clinic, or facility. Then get a free quote to discover how affordable their healthcare communication services are. Peter Lyle DeHaan is a freelance writer and call center authority.

Source: http://medconnectusa.com/blog/how-secure-is-your-medical-answering-service

Publish Date: April 27, 2018 5:00 AM


What Steps Does Your Medical Answering Service Take to Provide Continuous Availability?

Most all medical answering services can cover your phone calls 24/7. That, of course, assumes all their equipment is operating properly and nothing interrupts their service.

But problems happen. Telephone cables get cut, electricity goes out, or a building becomes unusable. These things keep an answering service from providing the around-the-clock service they promised.

That's why leading medical answering services take extraordinary steps to make sure they can deal with the unexpected. This allows them to continue to provide the service you expect and pay for. Here's some of the exceptional planning that today's advanced medical answering services take so that they're always there whenever you need them. 

Backup Power

For power surges and sags, brownouts, and short-term outages, the top medical answering services have installed uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) throughout their facility. These devices store energy and provide the power needed to operate computer systems and networking equipment when the utility power encounters problems.

Regardless of what happens to the utility power, these UPS units keep the computers and systems plugged into them operating continuously, without even so much as a hiccup. These UPS units continuously power computer servers, network equipment, and telecommunications systems. Plus, smaller UPS units, strategically placed around the answering service, keep agent stations working, too. 

Backup Generators 

But what happens for longer power outages? These do happen, with some widespread outages lasting several hours or even days. Although the best answering services are strategically located in areas not susceptible to long-term power outages, they still prepare for this as a possibility.

To address long-term utility outages, these best-of-class medical answering services install electrical generators in their facility to take over for long-term power outages. Running on natural gas, propane, or gasoline, these generators can provide the reliable, consistent electrical power that answering services need to continue to operate in the absence of commercial utility power.

Multiple Phone and Internet Providers

Keeping the answering service powered is the first essential step. However, another critical item is making sure that calls and other communications can successfully make it to the answering service. With only one carrier, this is a single point of failure that is unacceptable.

To protect against this, leading-edge medical answering services use multiple carriers. This ensures that a failure with one carrier won't cripple their operation. That way, if one telephone or internet provider encounters problems, the other ones simply take over and handle the extra traffic. The result is continuous telephone and internet service.

Multiple Locations 

What happens if the answering service's facility becomes unusable? A natural disaster or man-made catastrophe could damage the facility, make it unsafe for occupancy, or keep staff from reaching it. To address this, the most progressive medical answering services have a multi-location strategy. With this, calls can automatically reroute from one location to other ones in their network.

And as a bonus, under normal conditions, having multiple locations allows for calls to seamlessly reroute from a busy location to a less busy one. This means they can answer your calls faster. 

Secure Cloud-Based Backup 

Another critical item to address is database backup. This starts by making on-site backups, with off-site, remote storage. But this is just step one. For a comprehensive solution, leading medical answering services also securely store all information with a cloud-based data backup company.

This provides two key benefits. The first is that if a local server loses its information, cloud-based storage allows for a quick restoration. The other key benefit is critical for a complete disaster recovery plan to work. 

Disaster Recovery Plan

Given all these extraordinary steps that today's advanced medical answering services make to ensure they are always available to take your calls, there's still one more element: a disaster recovery plan.

An all-inclusive disaster recovery plan goes beyond utility power, telecommunication services, intra-site call switching, and data backups. It addresses catastrophic failures that would require a quick relocation for one or more facility. While medical answering services hope they never need to implement this part of their disaster recovery plan, they provide for it anyway. 

The Result

Ninety-nine percent of the time it makes no difference if a medical answering service has taken all these extra steps to provide continuous service. However, for that remaining 1 percent of the time (an hour or two each week), the best medical answering services will continue to operate, while their less-prepared competitors will flounder.

Learn how medical answering service from MedConnectUSA can help your practice, clinic, or facility. Then get a free quote to discover how affordable their healthcare communication services are. Peter Lyle DeHaan is a freelance writer and call center authority. 

Source: http://medconnectusa.com/blog/what-steps-does-your-medical-answering-service-take-to-provide-continuous-availability

Publish Date: April 20, 2018 5:00 AM


Discover What a Full-Service Medical Answering Service Can Do for You

Most any answering service can claim to handle medical accounts, but not everyone specializes in it or gives it their full focus. And even those medical answering services that only handle healthcare-related accounts aren't always a full-service provider.

Here are some of the things you can expect from a full-service medical answering service: 

24/7 Phone Support

The mainstay of a full-service medical answering service is providing 24/7 telephone support to your patients and callers. This means they're available around the clock to answer your phone calls when you can't. They can take messages, screen calls, and escalate urgent situations for you, whenever you need it: day or night, weekday or weekend, and even holidays. 

After-Hours Answering Service and Emergency Coverage

Many medical practices and clinics have staff to handle phone calls during regular office hours. They don't require an answering service to provide coverage during these times. Their need for communication support occurs outside of regular office hours, once they go home.

Just as with 24/7 phone support, a full-service medical answering service can take messages, screen calls, and dispatch emergencies for after-hours situations. This provides your patients and callers with a high degree of prompt, professional support whenever they happen to call. 

Telephone Receptionist and Office Hours Overflow Support

However, some medical practices and clinics benefit from having a full-service medical answering service help them with their calls during office hours. This frees up your staff to attend to the needs of the patients who are in your office, allowing the answering service to assist those who are outside the office. They can do this for all calls or on an overflow basis, when things get busy.  

Appointment Setting and Confirmation

Everyone in healthcare knows the importance of having appointments booked throughout the day and of minimizing no-shows, which represents a loss of billable services and an increase in inefficiency. Full-service medical answering services can securely access your appointment calendar online and fill open slots for you 24/7.

In addition, your medical answering service can remind patients of their appointments, which will reduce no-shows. They can do this through telephone calls, email, or text messages. Often, they use a combination of all three. The outcome is a fuller schedule and fewer missed appointments. 

Disaster Standby

No one wants to think about a disaster that threatens a medical practice or clinic, but they do happen. Planning for them is the best way to minimize the negative impact a crisis could have on your practice and your patients.

A full-service medical answering service can essentially be on call to answer your phone if a disaster occurs that prevents your staff from doing so. But you need to set this up ahead of time; trying to make arrangements in the middle of a crisis is too late. 

Other Healthcare Support Services

Full-service medical answering services can also provide many other healthcare related telephone services. If you have a need, they can probably handle it. All you need to do is ask. Two examples are drug study registration and drug interaction lines.  

Telephone Nurse Triage Integration

While it's unwise for a medical answering service to provide telephone triage, and vice versa, a full-service medical answering service has established relationships with many leading telephone triage operations. They have experience working with these providers and can make a smooth handoff when your patients need medical assistance over the phone.

With all these benefits and service opportunities, why trust your practice or clinic's communications to anyone but a full-service medical answering service?

Learn how medical answering service from MedConnectUSA can help your practice, clinic, or facility. Then get a free quote to discover how affordable their healthcare communication services are. Peter Lyle DeHaan is a freelance writer and call center authority. 

Source: http://medconnectusa.com/blog/discover-what-a-full-service-medical-answering-service-can-do-for-you-1

Publish Date: April 6, 2018 5:00 AM


Integrate Medical Answering Service with Telephone Triage for Successful Outcomes

Most every healthcare provider struggles with how to effectively meet the needs of their patients outside of regular office hours. It's a difficult balance to maintain. Providers who make themselves too available risk burn out. Yet providers who aren't available at all, risk losing patients to other providers who are.

The ideal solution hinges on providing 24/7 communication options. You begin with a medical answering service to handle the regular afterhours inquiries of your patients. The answering service can address most caller needs by either responding to requests immediately or deferring them to when the office opens.

The second part of providing 24/7 communication support for your patients addresses urgent medical situations. In this case a telephone triage provider can function as an effective first responder, often supplying the patient with the care they seek and protecting you and your healthcare staff from afterhours interruptions.

Though it's tempting to seek both solutions from one provider, the smart move is to pick two specialists: one for medical answering service and a second one for telephone triage. Don't ask one provider to do both jobs. This seldom works.

Use a Medical Answering Service for Regular Calls

Start by hiring a medical answering service to handle your phone calls when your office is closed. They'll answer your phone, take messages, and handle appointment requests and changes.

In addition, a premier medical answering service can also follow your guidelines to identify calls that relate to urgent medical situations or potential emergencies. They then escalate the call and reach the on-call person or refer the patient to the appropriate after-hours care facility. But for these types of calls, there's also another option: telephone triage. 

Use a Telephone Triage Provider for Medical Issues

A telephone triage operation is essentially a call center staffed by nurses. They're trained in the art of helping people appropriately deal with their healthcare concerns. The one distinguishing characteristic for these nurses is that they provide care over the telephone and not in person.

To address this, these nurses receive advanced training in how to effectively interact with patients who they can't see or touch. This means their symptom-gathering process is (generally) limited to what they can hear: the words people say and the way they say them. These specialty nurses follow established medical triage protocols to provide callers with a recommended course of action. This could range from over-the-counter remedies to going to the emergency room, and everything in between. 

Integrate Medical Answering Service with Telephone Triage

To provide the best service to your patients outside of regular office hours, you need to offer both medical answering service and telephone triage. But how do you do this in a seamless way that keeps them from being confused or needing to call different numbers?

When set up correctly, your patients will call your office phone number regardless of what time or day it is. If your office is open, your staff will answer their call. If your office is closed, their call will forward to your medical answering service. Your medical answering service is your patient-facing service provider for after-hours communication. They will handle most of your calls, taking messages, setting appointments, and escalating urgent situations.

Your medical answering service maintains a staff of professional communicators with experience in the healthcare industry, but they don't have clinical training, so they can't provide medical recommendations. When a call comes in that requires healthcare expertise, your medical answering service can make a seamless handoff to your telephone triage provider. 

The Winning Solution

Your patients need not know that your medical answering service and telephone triage provider are separate operations, located in different facilities, perhaps even in different states.

What they know is that they called your office number and received the medical attention they needed, even though your office was closed. That's what counts.

Learn how medical answering service from MedConnectUSA can help your practice, clinic, or facility. Then get a free quote to discover how affordable their healthcare communication services are. Peter Lyle DeHaan is a freelance writer and call center authority. 

Source: http://medconnectusa.com/blog/integrate-medical-answering-service-with-telephone-triage

Publish Date: March 23, 2018 5:00 AM


Why the Best Medical Answering Services and Telephone Triage Providers Choose to Specialize

Medical practices need to be available to their patients anytime of the day or night. That's what they expect. If you don't provide it, they'll go to someone who will. However, it's equally unwise to attempt to provide this 24/7 coverage yourself. Your quality of life will suffer, your work/life balance will become unbalanced, and you'll burn out. Then you won't be able to address anyone's healthcare needs.

Instead you seek help handling the after-hours needs of your patients. This starts by finding someone to cover your phone calls. You hire a medical answering service. But what about medical issues that arise after hours? Maybe you need a telephone triage provider instead. It seems unnecessary to hire both. Can't one company handle answering service and triage? After all, both services involve the telephone, and they seem similar.

You may find a few companies that claim to offer both medical answering service and telephone triage from one integrated operation. Be careful. This may not be the best solution. In fact, it probably isn't.

Instead hire a medical answering service to do answering service type work for your practice. Let them answer your phone calls after hours, screen calls for emergencies, and take messages for routine situations. Then, to offload the work of after-hours medical questions, tap a telephone triage provider.

By selecting two companies that specialize in specific needs, you have much to gain. This includes: 

Increase Focus

The narrower a company's niche, the tighter their focus. Some companies try to be all things to all people, but this seldom works. No one can master everything. Instead they'll struggle to follow through on their promises. That's why focus matters. 

Streamline Operations

When companies specialize, they can do their work faster and better. They develop specific systems to serve you with greater efficiency and increased effectiveness. And if they try to do too much, to cover too many things, their processes become cumbersome. This will hamper productivity. 

Cost-Effective Results

The cost structure behind hiring staff for a medical answering service is quite different than hiring staff for a telephone triage operation. It would be silly to pay someone a nurse's hourly rate to take messages from your patients. This would double or even triple the cost of each message, maybe much more. It simply wouldn't be cost-effective. It's not that they can't do these things, it's just that they can't do them as cost-effectively as your medical answering service. That's why specialization is so important. It's too expensive not to. hire both.

Better Outcomes

When you have answering services handling telephone calls and phone triage operations handling medical questions, everyone wins. Each company does what they do best, and this provides the ideal outcome for you and your patients

Medical Answering Service + Telephone Triage = After-Hours Success

Hire a medical answering service to answer your phone after hours. Let them do what they do best. Allow them to handle their area of expertise. And don't ask them the branch out into telephone triage.

Conversely, hire a telephone triage provider to handle after-hours calls that have a medical component. Let them do what they do best. But don't ask them to take messages, screen calls, or reach the on-call person.

Leading medical answering services and telephone triage providers can work with each other.

Let your medical answering service serve as the first point of contact for all phone calls. For the ones that require triage, they will make a smooth handoff to your telephone triage provider. If you don't currently have a telephone triage provider, your medical answering service can refer you to one who they have worked with, know, and trust.

Learn how medical answering service from MedConnectUSA can help your practice, clinic, or facility. Then get a free quote to discover how affordable their healthcare communication services are. Peter Lyle DeHaan is a freelance writer and call center authority.

Source: http://medconnectusa.com/blog/why-the-best-medical-answering-services-and-telephone-triage-providers-choose-to-specialize

Publish Date: March 9, 2018 5:00 AM

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