Unlocking the Potential of Your Answering Service: Boosting the Provider Experience
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Providers are the backbone of all health systems. In an ideal world, their daily activities would be free of obstacles and easy to execute in a timely manner. Unfortunately, that’s rarely the case—providers often get sidetracked or delayed by poor communication and tedious processes. Cumbersome workflows that hinder their ability to interact with patients and other care team members can pose a serious risk to the efficiency and effectiveness of care delivery.
This can become more complicated when industry requirements exert additional pressure on a health system’s operations. As one example, health insurance companies are increasingly requiring medical organizations to have after-hours coverage1 to ensure patients always have access to care—or maybe just a quick touchpoint with a provider—when they need it.
When you combine these competing pressures with the sometimes-inefficient nature of care delivery processes, providing the right care in a timely manner can seem a bit daunting. Using this after-hours requirement as a lens, one lever to pull in the battle for comprehensive and efficient care is technology that automates processes to make them highly reliable. More specifically, an automated answering service solution can standardize communication workflows to reduce provider stress and distractions in a way that allows them to be more productive caregivers.
For the final installment of our enterprise medical answering service series, let’s take a deeper dive to see how an advanced answering service benefits providers by limiting distractions, protecting privacy, prioritizing efficiency, and facilitating better provider-patient communication with intuitive workflows.
Automated After-Hours Answering Service
Intuitive After-Hours Workflows
|Point-and-click access to securely contact patients||Provider clicks a direct link in PerfectServe to respond to patient directly via email, text, voice message, or live call|
|Collaborative platform with easy search to engage peers for consultation||Inbound post-surgical inquiry requires input from anesthesia (or wound care, or pick your expert)|
Features that Facilitate a Healthier Work-Life Balance
|Customizable, practice-specific voicemail trees help address more non-urgent needs without on-call physician support||24-48 hour procedure rescheduling option initiates workflow to cancel and reschedule|
|Schedule integration contacts the right on-call provider every time||Up-to-date provider schedules prevent reliance on printed on-call snapshots that are subject to change|
Support Peace of Mind with Flexibility and Accessibility
|No initial wait or hold times||Inbound calls answered within the predetermined appropriate length of time by each health system (15 minutes, 30 minutes, 45 minutes, etc.)|
|Persistent messaging with escalation when on-call support required||PerfectServe ensures messages don’t go unnoticed by automatically escalating to a back-up caregiver after a defined period of inactivity|
|Potential for better informed and prepared patients||Surgical practice creates a voicemail option with pre-procedural instructions|
Intuitive Call Workflows
Whether an answering service is being used during business hours, after hours, or in both instances, efficiency matters to providers. That’s why a solution with intuitive workflows is an essential benefit to providers and administrators who manage inbound communication of all types. With PerfectServe, any after-hours message will land directly in their app inbox, and it will contain a direct one-touch callback number for the provider to instantly call the patient back. This point-and-click approach gives instant access to secure provider-patient communication, and it makes a provider’s life easier by allowing them to focus on patient care and not the logistics of communication.
Contacting other providers within their network should also be simple and efficient. Let’s say Dr. Moore needs to contact another provider, Dr. Garcia, who works in a different subspecialty, for a consultation. Without an integrated clinician directory, Dr. Moore wastes valuable time checking and dialing numbers in an attempt to get through to Dr. Garcia, who may not even be working that day. If she isn’t, Dr. Moore might leave a message, remember to call back later, or take the decidedly old school approach by leaving a sticky note for the medical assistant or office manager to follow up.
This is where modern, intelligent communication workflows show their real value. PerfectServe’s medical answering service can be integrated with (for example) directories, provider on-call schedules, and clinical communication systems, and it makes all of this functionality centrally accessible via desktop or mobile device. A provider’s message access and follow-through capabilities are drastically enhanced with integrations of this nature.
An automated answering service does away with the need for live agents by automatically routing inbound calls to the right person. When a provider isn’t on call or is on vacation, they shouldn’t be worried about receiving patient calls or requests. If an emergency call is directed to them in error, that’s an unacceptable interruption, and they may not be able to provide adequate care. Whether they’re on vacation or simply off work, intelligent workflows are essential to routing calls correctly. PerfectServe’s Dynamic Intelligent Routing® considers a number of variables to determine where a message or call should go at any given time, automatically directing it to the on-call provider when necessary and escalating unanswered messages based on urgency.
In this same vein, a provider shouldn’t be taking routine calls that don’t require their elevated level of expertise. For example, if an on-call provider is often connected to patients looking for surgery prep instructions, they’re certainly not working at the top of their license. These calls may also prevent them from addressing more pressing patient inquiries. An automated answering service can be set up to give patients surgery prep reminders (like not eating or drinking 24 hours before an operation), which gives valuable time back to the provider and moves a more administrative task off of their plate. As a bonus, giving patients easier access to routine (but still important) information helps them to be better prepared for their appointments. More prepared patients means more kept appointments and less frustrated providers.
A similar benefit comes from not having to use a patient portal. It’s common these days for medical practices to promote portals for medical record access and basic communication. However, most portals don’t automatically route messages and requests to the right on-call provider or administrator—they simply keep them in a static inbox, meaning it’s easier for messages to be missed entirely. Regardless of urgency, it’s safe to say that no provider wants their patients to feel like they’re being forgotten or ignored. With a medical answering service that uses intelligent routing to automatically push communication to the right recipient, providers gain peace of mind and the ability to quickly determine the level of urgency to forward the message to the right staff as necessary.
Innate Flexibility and Peace of Mind
Providers enter the medical field because they’re passionate about caring for patients. Heavier tech stacks are somewhat unavoidable in an increasingly digital world, but if the tech we implement doesn’t work well together, it can cause care delays and give providers unnecessary anxiety about the quality of care they give.
When automated solutions improve workflows and enhance efficiency, it can help providers feel like they’re giving their patients the best care possible. In particular, a reliable, 24/7 answering service allows a provider to feel that their patients have easy access to the care they need, no matter when a pressing question arises. For the providers giving hands-on care, the structured nature of the communication also prevents constant interruptions that hinder their focus and disrupt their time. To put it simply, technology helps providers help patients.
Privacy is another hot button issue, as most providers can likely remember a time when they had to call a patient back using their personal number. Communication with patients is important, but outreach of this kind removes boundaries and can make providers feel a bit overexposed. An advanced answering service like PerfectServe can easily mask personal numbers to protect providers’ privacy and extend their ability to interact with patients from any location using their personal devices.
Expanding Your Answering Service Capabilities: PerfectServe’s Expertise
The many benefits that providers receive from an automated medical answering service don’t have to be limited to one practice or clinic. As mergers and acquisitions continue apace in the healthcare industry, the process of standardizing operations and streamlining system-wide communication will become increasingly difficult without advanced technical solutions.
PerfectServe has 25 years of experience analyzing, building, and supporting clinical workflows for health systems of all shapes and sizes. The right medical answering service can be used to support plans for growth across your system and its affiliated practices, and in a way that both maintains high-quality patient care and protects provider wellness. Contact us today to learn more.
Already a PerfectServe customer? Learn how to use our medical answering service at every site within your health system.
1 Coverage for Medical Emergencies During and After Hours, Health Resources & Services Administration: https://bphc.hrsa.gov/compliance/compliance-manual/chapter7