Imagine a mother has noticed that her toddler has a fever and a rash after getting a shot. She knows that her doctor’s office is closed and calls the medical answering service. The phone rings several times before she is directed to an automated system that tells her to leave a message. Do you think that patient feels comforted or confident that anyone will call her back anytime soon? Probably not. Most likely her next move will be to pack up the toddler and bring him to the emergency room.
Is this the type of service that you want for your patients? Or would you rather this alternative:
The mother calls the after hours call center associated with your practice. On the first ring her call is answered by an automated system that invites her to either leave a message or be connected to a live person. When she elects the live person she is asked if she wants you to be contacted directly or if she would rather leave you a message. She is worried and upset so she asks to be connected to you. The representative comforts her and connects to you through a conference call. You are able to ascertain the child’s symptoms and give her a recommendation as to what she should do.
Or, perhaps you would like this scenario:
The mother calls your medical answering service and is instructed to either leave a message or be connected to a live representative. When she elects the representative she is quickly directed to a nurse telephone triage. This allows her to discuss the situation with a trained nurse who can help her decide what should be done. When this conversation is complete you are sent a message either through email or onto your cell phone so that you are up-to-date.
If those examples are the type of service that you would like to offer your patients, you should select a life answering service over one that relies mainly on voice mail. Not only does a live service provide you greater flexibility and opportunity to customize your services, but simply by virtue of offering a person this type of call center will provide greater comfort to your patients. Hearing a live voice on the other end of the line can do wonders to relieve some of the tension the patient is experiencing, and help them to feel more secure.
There are many reasons that your patients may want to get in touch with you after your normal business hours. Sometimes this is a true emergency that requires immediate attention, but other times they simply want to provide you with an update on an ongoing situation, such as to assure you that that toddler’s rash has cleared up and he now has a normal temperature. Providing a life answering service to your patients gives them the opportunity to leave you a message and describe the urgency to the representative. That representative is then able to make a decision regarding the information, as well as extending a meaningful dose of human compassion from an attentive live person.
Of course, situations are not always this cut and dry. You, too, can find reassurance in knowing that your patients will have the opportunity to speak with a live person rather than just relying on a machine that will store messages or automatically relaying them to your personal cell phone. You can know that your patients will have access to important information and support, while also knowing that you will only be contacted with important matters instead of every message that comes in.
Establishing a relationship with your patients is important to offering the best medical care. While you will create most of this relationship, offering a live answering service is an added way to make them feel secure and cared about.