4 reasons why your patients want you to have an answering service
Terri Phillips | Jun 29, 2021
There’s no question that healthcare clinics benefit from using an answering service. Better patient retention, higher patient conversion, and increased clinic efficiency are just a few perks included with a 24/7 live answering service. But it isn’t just healthcare providers that benefit. Patients overwhelmingly prefer an answering service over voicemail. Here are four reasons why patients want their doctors to use an answering service.
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We are more connected than ever. Patients can log onto online portals to pay bills and view appointment information. Smartwatches and remote patient monitoring devices can feed their health information directly to their healthcare team. But all this digitization and instant telehealth doesn’t change what patients want most: to be heard.
There is no substitute for human connection. When a parent is wondering whether a fever is too high, leaving a voicemail in the middle of the night can feel like tossing a message into the sea. Patients are likely to be worried, tired, or frustrated when calling their healthcare provider.
Knowing a live, empathetic person has taken their message, and will deliver it to the right person, is infinitely preferable to a complicated phone tree or voicemail recording.
There are more ways to connect than ever. Patients can communicate with their healthcare providers via phone call, web chat, or video call. Most answering services have expanded their services to include more methods of communication.
Web chat, in particular, is gaining popularity in the medical industry. Patients often want to talk to a real person but with the extra discretion and convenience a chat window provides. An answering service that offers HIPAA-compliant web chat gives patients a secure, convenient alternative to a phone call.
Patients want connection, but they also want an option for self-service. A study by Stax Inc., commissioned by Healthgrades, shows that 80% of participants prefer physicians who offer DIY services such as online appointment booking.
Your standard answering service has evolved beyond taking messages. They now offer many additional features, including online appointment booking. Once they’ve booked their appointment, patients can receive automatic email or text reminders. Many online booking pages even offer easy payment options to further streamline patients’ visits.
And for the 20% of patients who still prefer booking an appointment over the phone? An answering service has that covered too. Answering services help patients book and manage appointments in the way that works best for them.
The Internet has drastically altered expectations around getting answers. Patients, in particular, expect more from their healthcare providers. They want fast response times. One study published in the American Journal of Managed Care shows that the speed by which a patient’s phone call is answered has a direct impact on their satisfaction and overall perception of access to care.
An answering service is a 24/7 resource for answering basic questions, such as clinic hours or directions. With EHR integration, answering services can go a step further and answer questions regarding appointments or prescription refills. If the patient needs information that is not available to the answering service, they can ensure the message gets to the right person for the quickest response.
Healthcare providers are recognizing the importance of patient–focused, value-based services. Doctors and clinics are using more sophisticated technology to meet their patients’ rising expectations and stay competitive in an innovative industry.
Patient answering services are evolving right along with them. By taking advantage of all the features answering services have to offer, healthcare providers are meeting patient needs for human connection, convenience, and fast response times.