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What Doctors Need to Know About Medical Answering Services

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The pandemic and adoption of telehealth has changed the way that people think about their trips to the doctor. However, this doesn’t make medical offices any less busy! When you treat patients by phone or video, the format of your appointments is different and your reliance on technology increases exponentially. As a result, many healthcare practices are partnering with medical answering services for additional support.

Below we will answer and discuss the following questions to give you a better idea of how medical answering services work.

  • What is a medical answering service?
  • What is the purpose of a doctors answering service?
  • How much does a medical answering service cost?
  • Are healthcare answering services HIPAA-compliant?

What is a medical answering service?

A medical answering service is a specialized answering service trained to assist healthcare professionals. Unlike a general answering service, these professionals are HIPAA compliant. They can answer general questions, provide customer service, set appointments, and provide after-hours support at a fraction of the cost of a full-time employee.

What is the purpose of a doctors answering service?

The main purpose of an answering service for doctors is to help their practice run smoother while putting patients at ease. Here are some of the things that the trained, professional live agents of a medical answering service can do to achieve this:

  • Ensure that calls are answered faster and more frequently
  • Ask the right questions and triage emergency calls
  • Provide bilingual support in both English and Spanish
  • Free up your off time by only transferring the urgent afterhours calls
  • Eliminate the need for additional in-house employees, which saves on labor costs, benefits, and overhead expenses
  • Manage after-hours calls to ensure that all emergency callers are able to speak to a human

How much does a medical answering service cost?

No two medical offices are the same, so a blanket contract with unnecessary add-ons is something to be wary of while researching a medical answering service. At a minimum, the best medical answering services will be HIPAA compliant. They will also offer easy-to-access usage reports so you can adjust your coverage depending on your busy seasons.

The best medical answering services are also capable of the following:

  • Providing live, compassionate care to your callers. Some people get anxiety just thinking about calling the doctor. If a patient calls and gets a voicemail, they may not call back. Having someone supportive on the other end of the line during that initial call goes a long way.
  • Offering 24/7/365 support. Healthcare professionals know that people get sick at all hours of the day. The best medical answering services will offer the option to add coverage during nights, weekends, and even holidays.
  • Offering stellar communication. Better communication results in better care, happier patients, and fewer missed appointments. This is achieved with bilingual virtual receptionists, the increased hours of coverage, and fewer callers sent to voicemail.

Are healthcare answering services HIPAA-compliant?

If you’re a healthcare business that handles sensitive protected health information, you absolutely want to work with an answering service that’s HIPAA-compliant. Failing to partner with a HIPAA compliant answering service can cost you lots of money, fines and stress in the long run. While it might be tempting to save some money by going with a company that isn’t HIPAA compliant, violations can cost you up to $25,000. In addition to money, HIPAA violations can also damage the reputation you have worked so hard to build. Partnering with a HIPAA-compliant answering service will show your patients that you value the privacy and protection of their health information.

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