By Aaron Boatin
The telephone is the most popular way for patients to contact their medical practice. Whether they are a current patient wanting to schedule an appointment, a potential patient looking for information, or someone with an emergency, the practice – and its answering service or call center – needs to be equipped to handle calls during and after business hours.
The key is up-to-date technology. As a medical answering service or outsource healthcare call center, you must have the right technology to handle healthcare calls. These tools will set your healthcare call center apart from the competition and ensure your clients feel taken care of, listened to, and supported.
Here’s what you need to provide:
1) Secure Text Messaging App: HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) compliant secure text messaging is a great option as pagers are phased-out and medical offices want to streamline customer service efforts. With this app your clients can send secure text messages simply and efficiently to any member of their team from a web browser.
An enhanced option will also offer clients the ability to message multiple staff members at the same time. Plus you need to also communicate with your clients via HIPAA compliant secure text messaging. In today’s fast-paced world, secure text messaging is an excellent way to keep everyone in touch, on the same page, and on schedule.
2) Secure Client Web Portal: The two most essential elements of a medical answering service web portal are that it’s secure and that clients can update and manage information about their practice. Make sure your website portal has an extended validation certificate that verifies it’s controlled by a legal entity. This extra level of encryption makes sure your clients’ patients’ sensitive PHI (protected health information) data is safe and secure.
The risk of not having a secure website is significant. Any messages containing PHI puts your call center and your clients at risk for a HIPAA data breach violations. Not only can those violations add up to some serious coin, but they will also affect your reputation and credibility as a medical answering service.
You must have a portal that is easy to access and update. Any time a client needs to change a schedule or update phone numbers, you want them to be able to do so with ease. The information they enter in your portal should automatically link to your medical answering service platform for your team to use.
3) Real-time Access to Patient Messages and Information: Thorough, well organized, and easy-to-understand records are every medical practice’s dream. Giving your clients real-time access to their patients’ messages and information is an essential part of providing premier service.
You need to offer them a record of which physician was reached and their response time to the patient. Look for solutions that allow clients to import this data into their patient electronic health records (EHRs) to streamline the process and avoid forcing them to reenter information.
4) Online Access to Patient Call Audio: Patient experience is more important than ever. In fact, patient experience influences the level of reimbursement your clients receive from insurers. That’s why it’s a huge benefit to allow your clients the ability to listen to recordings of how their patient calls were handled. This way they can verify their callers had an optimal experience.
5) Web On-Call Software: Make sure you provide a way for clients to quickly update their ever-changing on-call schedules. This will help keep you from contacting the wrong person when they aren’t on-call and avoid mismanaged emergencies.
The best web on-call tools are mobile optimized, allow schedule sharing, and have a secure text messaging capability. An efficient on-call system will also keep your clients happy and allow your staff to do their job as professionally as possible.
6) Appointment Reminder Service: One of the biggest losses of revenue for many medical practices comes from patient no-shows. You should offer the ability for your clients to upload appointments to you. Then you can reach out to scheduled patients to remind them of their appointment. This provides a way for patients to confirm or cancel their appointment. By getting this information ahead of time, your healthcare clients will have a reasonable opportunity to fill vacated appointment slots. These automated reminders will no longer burden your clients’ and will help them keep their schedule full.
If you are a healthcare call center or medical answering service, your healthcare clients expect you to have these tools and offer these services. Make sure you are ready.
Aaron Boatin is the president of Ambs Call Center that services the healthcare industry.