By Janet Livingston
Everyone in healthcare knows the key challenges the industry faces: do more, do it better, and do it for less. These pressures confront healthcare providers, coming from both the insurance companies that reimburse them and the patients that they serve.
But how can providers achieve these objectives of doing more, doing it better, and doing it for less, when these goals run counter to each other? Finding a solution requires innovative thinking and doing things in new ways.
Enter the venerable telephone answering service. Today, leading answering services are stepping up to this challenge.
For decades answering services have provided telephone support to the healthcare community by answering calls, taking messages, and dispatching emergencies. They’ve done this afterhours and 24/7. When it comes to supporting medical clinics and healthcare practices, answering services can do these things. But they can also do much more.
Two Key Considerations
EMR Integration: One key way to make your answering service invaluable to a medical clinic or healthcare facility is to integrate your answering service platform with their EMR (electronic medical record) system. This allows you to automatically transfer the information you gathered from the clinics’ patients to the clinics’ EMR platform.
Without this capability, one of two things will occur. Either someone will need to manually rekey the information, or the information will forever remain isolated. Neither scenario is a good one.
The first instance requires hours of labor each day to reenter the information. Plus, as with any manual process, there’s a chance of data-entry errors. This will then put into question the reliability of the information and reflects badly on your answering service, even though the problem occurred after the data left your facility.
In the other scenario, though you’ve provided important information to the clinic, it’s of little value to them because it sequestered in an isolated database that’s not integrated with their main systems.
This is why EMR integration is so critical. Any answering service that can provide it distinguishes themselves from the competition. Plus, grateful clinics will form long-term relationships with their answering service because they don’t want to lose this valuable feature.
Smart Phone Integration: Virtually everyone in healthcare carries a smart phone (and sometimes more than one). This mobile technology has become indispensable in today’s business world, including the healthcare industry.
Leading answering services offer a data portal to their clients. This portal provides a powerful tool to access their account and the information in it. The next step is extending this functionality to the smart phone, such as with Amtelco’s miTeamWeb. This and other similar products enable answering service clients to review their answering service information, make updates, and manage their account at any time, from anywhere, using a smart phone app. This puts control of answering service accounts literally in the hands of its clients.
These apps work great out of the box and require little configuration for basic functionality. However, the most powerful answering service apps allow for customization in how the information is displayed, as well as to create widgets to accomplish specialized tasks and enhanced integrations.
For all its value and power, creating the widgets—especially the more complicated ones—requires technical knowledge and carries the need for programming skills. Not every answering service can do this, but those who can provide tremendous value to their clients.
Again, this enhanced service offering distinguishes one answering service from most others. It allows an answering service to better serve its clients in ways that the competition can’t match.
Most answering services can work for medical clinics and healthcare facilities. However, answering services that integrate with clinics’ EMR systems and provide sophisticated smart phone integration distinguish themselves from other less-equipped providers.
Which type of answering service do you want to be?
Janet Livingston is the president of Call Center Sales Pro, a premier consultancy and service provider for healthcare call centers and answering services. Contact Janet at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 800-901-7706.