Don’t Leave Patients Hanging When the Office is Closed – Use a Message Service
Patients don’t call physician’s offices after working hours just for the fun of it. When a patient makes this type of call, it is usually because he or she has some kind of time-sensitive medical concern. Usually, patients are panicked or upset when making these types of calls, so it is during these times that handling their concerns carefully becomes vitally important. Keeping a patient calm during these times is important medically, as well as from a customer service point of view.
By considering these pieces of advice, you can help make sure that whenever a patient calls your office, no matter what time of day it might be, their call will be resolved in a way that leaves them feeling calm and collected, not panicked.
Have an Answering Service, Not Voicemail
Simple put, voicemail is bad business when it comes to the medical industry. A patient is not going to feel comfortable or reassured in any way if they are forced to leave a message with a machine. By having a living, breathing person on the other end of the line at all times, you let your patients know that someone is out there, advocating for them and their issue. This keeps anxiety and stress low as the patient waits for a resolution to their health concern.
Emergency and Escalation Procedures
Sometimes, when a patient calls in after-hours to a medical provider’s office, their reason for calling will qualify as emergent. This is why you need to have very clear guidelines that let your medical answering service agents understand to whom and when they need to transfer calls.
You should also keep your medical message service in the loop at all times. Make sure that they know who is on call, and what the correct procedures are for contacting that person should the appropriate criteria for escalation be met.
Creating a set of guidelines for your agents on how to communicate this process to patients is also important. Very rarely will a call be able to be transferred directly. Usually, the patient will have to wait a period of time while the agent contacts the appropriate party and has them call the patient back. Walking a patient through this procedure and creating clear expectations for them is a very important part of managing critical scenarios.
Provide Medical Call-Taking Training to Call Center Agents
Dealing with medical concerns is simply not the same as dealing with customers calling into a company with a customer service or sales inquiry. There are procedures that should be followed during medical calls that ensure that the appropriate information is communicated clearly and concisely to the appropriate professional after the call is complete. In addition, training can help answering service agents deal with callers in an empathetic manner that will keep them calm during a stressful situation.
Most offices are simply not in a position to have 24/7 in house staff available to answer the phones. However, an answering service doesn’t have to equal a drop-off in the service your patients receive. By using a well-trained answering service for healthcare with clear guidelines, you can take care of your patients concerns at any hour of the day.