With patients constantly calling in with questions, for prescription refills or to schedule appointments, the phones in your medical office are probably ringing off the hook.
If you are feeling swamped by the number of calls you are facing each day—or your patients are complaining that your phone system is difficult to navigate—it may be time to consider making some changes.
By reorganizing the structure of your phone system, you can make your call volume more manageable and ensure that patients receive higher quality communication from your staff.
Here are some ways to successfully improve your medical office phone systems.
1. Offer simple instructions & categories
There is nothing more frustrating than listening to an automated voice message talk and talk, only to be unsure of which button you should press to get yourself to the correct service. If your current phone system has more than three or four options to choose from, it is probably too complicated for your patients, as well as other medical professionals attempting to get in contact with you.
Instead of having endless categories for individuals to choose from when they call, Physicians Practice recommends having separate options for each:
- Patient calls
- Physician and hospital calls
- Pharmacy calls
With your voicemails sorted and directed to these three simple locations, it will be easy to ensure that your callers are connected with the correct staff member. Not to mention, you will be making the process easier on yourself. There won’t be voicemails to sort through when you arrive back at your desk. Instead, the inquiries you receive will only pertain to your tasks within the office.
2. Keep patients informed on response time
Whether you speak to a patient on the phone or they are directed to a voicemail system, don’t leave them waiting in the dark. Just as a patient would expect to be kept up-to-date on the schedule while physically sitting in the waiting room, the patients that call you expect a prompt response as well.
Be sure to inform your patients of when they should expect to hear back from you. This is simply working towards an overall good patient experience with your medical office from call to visit.
With your patients aware of when they can expect a response from you, it is much less likely for your phone system to get bogged down with check-in calls throughout the day. It not only reassures your patients that you will be getting back to them with answers, it also allows for you to stay organized with your follow-up phone calls.
3. Take advantage of call queue system
A great tool to use during peak hours—like Monday mornings—queues allow staff to take their time with the calls they are actively working on and play a message for the patients within the queue, letting them know that all of the office associates are assisting other callers.
This is now essential to a medical office because patience in patients is thinning at astronomical rates. 60% of patients refuse to stay on hold for more than a minute and only 35% of those patients will make the effort to call back.
When properly set up, a queue is an informative, easy-to-manage system that allows callers to know their placement in line. This way, every patient gets the time they deserve, and your office staff will be better equipped to handle busier time periods more successfully.
An effective call queuing system assists in the organization of your high call volume and provide real-time information including:
- Number of calls waiting in queue
- Status of agents (What staff members are available, logged in or logged out)
- Average patient hold time
- Maximum patient hold time
- Abandoned calls rate
- Your level of service being provided
Educate your staff on how to handle calls more effectively
Work with your staff to develop and hone their phone skills, creating a clear expectation of how each call should be handled.
4. Practice people skills & active listening
Be attentive and courteous when speaking with patients and be sure to capture all the information necessary to handle patient requests. This way, even if the individual who answers the call is not qualified to answer a question, they can obtain the answer from another staff member quickly and efficiently. Be sure that every member of your staff is well-versed in medical office phone etiquette.
5. Utilize medical office phone scripts
Many offices will implement a universal phone script that is learned and practiced by all staff members. This uniform approach ensures that each member of your staff is well prepared to take on any inquiry thrown at them.
6. Educate your staff on the phone system
Remember to spend time training new employees on how to properly operate your phone system and giving refreshers to veteran staff is there is ever an updated feature. Proactive training will allow your staff members to feel confident and comfortable on the phone, leading to a better patient experience.
7. Take advantage of the best features
Consider taking advantage of call monitoring, call recording or Vaspian’s state of the art speech analytics tools to develop your staff and improve the overall customer satisfaction.
This software enables you to actively track all patient interactions, from calls for scheduling appointments to collection calls, adhering to HIPAA compliance regulations.
8. Consider a VoIP for your medical office
There are many considerations to be had before choosing the phone system that’s right for your office. Think about your current call volume that you’re experiencing, your want to grow and expand in the future, and the extent to which automation is needed.
Let us help you improve your communications solutions. We will make it our goal to learn about your practice and evaluate your unique needs to create a phone system customized to you and your patient care.
Reliable and affordable, Vaspian’s voice and Internet phone services provide a wide array of benefits that will help your medical facility keep up with calls at even the busiest of hours. Equipped with call queuing, automatic call overflow management, call forwarding, call center statistics and more, we can help you to improve your services while handling your patients’ needs quickly and efficiently.