Unfortunately, medical facilities aren’t generally places where patients like to be.
Being in a medical office may mean that a patient is sick or being subjected to painful and inconvenient tests. Although your staffers do what they can to keep your patients comfortable, there aren’t many reasons for them to have positive associations with medical offices. That’s why you’ve got to do everything you can to ensure that when your patients really need you, you’re available — after all, going the extra mile can make a world of difference to your patients’ happiness and their view of your office.
Improving Patient Response with a Medical Answering Service
One of the easiest ways to increase your patients’ attitudes is to make yourself available to them 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Obviously, you can’t be on call all the time, but you can hire a live answering service to fill in while you’re away. Your patients generally call at very stressful times, and the last thing they want is to be forced to leave a message that you’ll get back to later. A patient call, especially after hours, requires an immediate response.
A friendly voice on the other side of the telephone can be reassuring, giving your patient the comfort of knowing that you’re always looking out for them. In fact, a 2011 study by American Express found that no matter what kind of issue they had, 90 percent of American callers would rather speak to a real person on the phone rather than using a computerized system to reach voicemail or a bank of pre-recorded solutions.
Being Available for Every Emergency
Even if the majority of your patients just call to reschedule their appointments or ask basic medical questions of your staff, there will be a few that really need you.
You definitely can’t leave these patients twisting in the wind waiting for a call back from a voicemail message. A medical answering service can tell the difference between callers who are experiencing serious problems and those that are just mildly worried or curious about a new symptom.
These operators have the skill to sort the patients who can wait from those who can’t and will forward the true emergencies to you for prompt attention. When your non-emergency patients can get answers to their burning questions at any time of the day or night and your patients that are in trouble can reach you no matter where you are, patient satisfaction goes through the roof.
Today’s patients are much more sophisticated and demanding than the patients of generations before them. If they’ve had a negative experience, spent too much time on hold during a serious situation or never got a call back, everyone else will hear about it. The same American Express study mentioned above also found that customers are more likely to talk about their bad customer service experiences than their good ones — though they’re happy to discuss both with anyone who will listen.
The health and welfare of your patients is important to you, or else you’ve never have gotten into the medical field to begin with. Sometimes it’s hard for them to see just how much you care, but providing them a safety net in the form of a medical answering service will speak volumes about your intentions.