Answering service replacement boosts physician and patient satisfaction with added benefit of cost savings

Southwest cancer center improve practice communications

Practice:

Southwest Cancer Center

Location:

Orlando, FL

Physicians:

5

Patients:

75-100/day

After-hour calls:

15-20/day

Key result:

Improved patient and physician satisfaction; cost savings of over $1,100/mo

Who’s representing your practice — both to your patients and your staff — after hours? How well are they conducting business on your behalf? It’s a question practice leaders must ask themselves, because the answer hits home on three different fronts: staff satisfaction, patient experience and overhead costs.

Answering service mistakes have become status quo for the healthcare industry— especially in small practice settings. There must be a process in place for patients to communicate with staff in the off-hours, and the most common solution has been the traditional answering service— staffed by human beings who, unfortunately, do inevitably make mistakes. Mistakes like delaying the delivery of urgent messages, urgently delivering non-emergent messages and even losing patient messages. This service, which is fraught with opportunity to negatively impact physician and patient satisfaction levels, is also notoriously expensive.

Southwest Cancer Center, a small medical practice in Orlando, specializes in comprehensive cancer treatment and care for 75-100 patients per day. For over five years they employed a traditional after-hours answering service that, unfortunately, came with all the traditional frustrations as well.

“We experienced a lot of issues with the answering service reaching out to our physicians after-hours and over the weekends with non-urgent messages. Our front desk staff was routinely getting yelled at by patients who were frustrated about the lack of response they had received,” said Cara Bertone, practice manager at Southwest Cancer Center. “We weren’t happy, and we were looking around at other options.”

The physicians at Southwest Cancer Center began using PerfectServe four years ago as a way to communicate and coordinate patient care with interdisciplinary providers from two partner hospitals in the area.

In 2016, when Bertone discovered that PerfectServe had the capabilities to automate many of the manual functions of the answering service that were causing the most frustration among patients and providers, she jumped at the chance to learn more.

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