When you think of a medical office, the first thing that comes to mind is the continuous sound of the telephone ringing. Although this is common for any busy environment, it is especially frustrating for medical practices because of the nature of their work. Some of the issues include the front desk getting lost in the sea of incoming calls, meaning they are unable to assist the patients that are in the waiting room. Also, patients getting frustrated by long greeting messages or, even worse, having their calls go unanswered. It just sounds like an unpleasant experience for all parties involved.
Nevertheless, there are more than a couple of ways to streamline the incoming calls for a busy medical practice, and that’s exactly what this article is going to be about. If you’re interested in finding out how to turn your telephone line into one of your biggest allies, or if you’re curious about what are some good medical office voicemail greeting examples, then read along because this article is for you.
1. Utilize a Simple Medical Office Voicemail Greeting
When a patient calls with a complaint or to seek out medical advice, the last thing they want to experience is a long or overly complicated greeting message. In a time of need, patients prefer a simple, quick, and efficient way to reach their physician and get the advice they need or schedule an appointment. Having multiple menus and options just wastes the caller’s time and more than often leads them to the wrong voice mailbox. Sort your incoming calls into simple categories that are easy to understand.
1) Appointment Scheduling
These calls should go directly to the staff in charge of handling appointments. Appointment scheduling is usually handled by the front desk, however, a lot of medical practices have found it to be more efficient to use dedicated staff members to handle all their scheduling tasks. Outsourcing these tasks to a professional call answering service is also a practical way to handle appointments and lessen the load of your front desk and free them up to handle other tasks.
2) Physician Callbacks
This line can be handled directly by the patient’s doctor, or you could have a dedicated nurse doing most of the callbacks while consulting the doctors. If the nurse is busy with another task, make sure to have a voice message that requires patients to leave their information and reason for the call. A good example would be “Thank you for calling our Medical Practice. Please leave a message with your name, number and reason for the call.”
3) Pharmacy Line
You don’t want pharmacists using the same line that patients use. Have a dedicated line only for calls related to pharmacy and have a voice message that includes the time when pharmacists can expect to have their messages reviewed. For example, “thank you for calling our Medical Practice, Dr. John Doe will be reviewing pharmacy-related messages from 9 AM until 1 PM.”
4) Manager Line
Health plan executives usually want to talk to the manager directly so the front desk can be beneficial and time-saving. This, in turn, will make other phone lines more accessible for patients.
5) Billing Office Line
This line should be solely handled by the billing staff. These include calls related to health plans and coverages. Since the billing staff of a medical practice can be quite busy, it is very beneficial to have a voice message that requests basic information so that the person in charge of taking these calls can call the patients back in a timely manner.
2. Reduce the Number of Rings or Transfer Directly to Voicemail
Once you have your call routing and greeting system set up, you can reduce the number of rings before transferring callers to voicemail. Making people wait for someone to pick up the phone doesn’t make a lot of sense if they are going to be transferred to voicemail anyway. As long as you manage your callbacks efficiently, you shouldn’t have issues with sending callers to voicemail more frequently.
3. Let Your Patients Know When They Can Expect to Receive a Call
The number one question patients ask themselves is how long should you wait for a doctor to return a phone call? Be proactive in giving them an answer before they even ask. Give them an estimate that’s not too vague. For example, “You can expect to receive a call from your doctor by 6 PM” is much more effective than giving them an undisclosed time. Have the front desk staff keep track of these callbacks and issue reminders for physicians.
4. Provide Educational Materials and a FAQ Section on Your Website
Answers to routine questions should be on display on your website. By doing so, you lower incoming call volume and allow patients to serve themselves. You also show that you run a reputable and knowledgeable practice.
5. Utilize Other Channels of Communication
Explore different channels of communication and provide your patients with phone-free methods of contacting you. A good example is using a secure email address where patients can send their questions or inquire about scheduling an appointment.
If any of these suggestions helped you improve your incoming call management, please let us know. From our experience, medical offices that implement the suggestions above have seen a significant improvement in the overall satisfaction of not just their patients, but also their staff. If your medical practice suffers from substandard incoming call management, contact AnswerHero today and find out how our Medical Receptionist and Answering Service can make your practice better.