When it comes to needing to be available 24/7, the medical and healthcare fields know just how important total availability can be.

In a medical emergency, it’s essential that your practice be on call and available for your patients who need you. While having a live secretary on staff overnight isn’t practical (or cost-effective), working with a professional 24/7 medical answering service is. A medical answering service can ensure that your patients get the help they need, when they need it.

First point of contact with your callers. Since a medical answering service is often your patients’ first point of contact with your office, it’s important to choose a service that will make the right impression. The last thing you want for a new patient – or a patient in an emergency – to experience is a low quality call, a live receptionist who doesn’t understand their needs or a less-than-friendly voice on the other end. You’ll also want to be sure your call answering services are helping you stay on budget.

Before you make the decision to sign up with any medical answering service, review the following areas:

1. Price of services

Saving money on business expenses is important, but it’s also important that you not pay too little for professional medical answering services. While the lowest-priced service may seem appealing, the low call quality, unprofessional virtual receptionists and lack of important answering service features will leave you feeling frustrated – and leave your patients with a bad impression of your office. Accuracy and customer service are essential – and rock bottom prices won’t deliver either. Find a balance between your budget and your needs for service.

2.HIPAA Compliancy

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was passed by Congress in 1996. It’s a series of laws that help protect the privacy of patients and their personal information. Since any answering service you hire will be working directly with patients, it’s important that they are in 100% compliance with HIPAA. Medical calls are not like other calls that might be handled with a typical answering service. Extra security procedures must be used to ensure patient confidentiality. If you use a medical answering service that isn’t HIPAA-compliant, you could be risking your patient’s privacy as well as your practice. Don’t take chances – work with an answering service that works with the law.

3. Call technology

With a quality medical answering service, your patients will never know that they are being helped by someone miles away from your office. Call technology should be crystal-clear and provide a seamless transition from reception to relay. Your medical answering service should also provide flexibility in call volume and call type. You want a service that knows how to use cutting-edge technology to deliver seamless service of the highest quality.

Medical answering services can make your life easier, or cause a lot of headaches. Do your research upfront and find the best, more reliable option for your needs.