Does Your Physician Answering Service Measure Up?

Have you received many complaints about your physician answering service lately? Maybe patients are not able to get information they need during normal business hours. Perhaps there are problems with communications after hours. The truth is, you may have more problems than you realize because many people do not report them, yet they remain unsatisfied patients. Does your answering service take care of your patients needs? Here are some ways to tell if you have an effective service or not.

Compliments
When was the last time you received a compliment on the way patient calls are handled? If it has been a long time (or never) you may have problems within your system. Not everyone will sing songs of praise about an answering service, but occasionally someone should remark how efficient or useful it is.

Staff Complaints
Have you talked to your staff lately about office communications? Maybe it’s time you did? If you have doubts about your physician answering service, you should consider discussing the matter with your employees. Here are some things you can ask:

• Are you having major problems with patients concerning phone calls?
• Are patients complaining about being on hold for too long?
• Do you sometimes miss messages and people have to call back several times?
• Are patients complaining about the way prescription refill information is handled?
• What would you do to improve patient and office communications?

Personal Observation
How do you (as a physician or office manager) feel about the current answering system you have in place? Does is leave much to be desired?

Expenses
Are you paying way too much for your answering service every month? Do the charges vary from month to month and make it hard to predict a monthly or quarterly budget? It may be time to find a less expensive service with the ability to handle your office needs.

Go to the Source
One of the most effective ways to check an answering system is to ask your patients. Conduct an impartial and anonymous survey in the office, or send each patient a questionnaire. This is one of the best ways to receive accurate and honest answers. If you ask patients in person, they may be hesitant to complain or tell you the truth.

Once you understand the problems your physician answering service is experiencing, you now have the knowledge and tools to correct them. You may need to check out a service which has the features you need, and for the right price.

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