It’s often the simplest things that cause the worst headaches. Maybe this is because we expect big tasks to cause big problems and are therefore mentally prepared for them. Maybe it’s because when small things break, the cascade of subsequent issues is anything but small. Whatever the psychology, as a medical practice manager you know how difficult it can be to keep up with all of the daily minutiae of running a medical office even under the best of circumstances. You are always looking for ways to streamline back office operations, save money on equipment and services, and coordinate staff and providers, all while keeping a steady flow of happy patients moving through your doors.
One seemingly small area that encompasses all of these challenges is your inter-practice communications. First you have to ensure your team is on the same page. Then comes coordinating outside your practice with patients and hospital staff, directing their questions and concerns to the proper physician. Should be simple, but in reality hiccups are not uncommon.
You know the drill: a disgruntled physician calls after she was erroneously paged while on vacation. Or your on-call doctor failed to respond to a page because he never received it. Even worse, details in a patient’s complaint get scrambled en route to the on-call physician, leading to confusion and delays in care.
Medical answering services are supposed to help with these problems. However, you may still have to do a lot of manual work to keep up with scheduling changes and coordinating on-call duties among your providers. Without the right set of tools mistakes are inevitable, both from your office and from your answering service.
Fortunately, there are solutions to help busy group practices, including technology such as HIPAA-compliant communications and scheduling platforms. And medical answering services can play an invaluable role in helping you coordinate your practice’s communication.
While both classic medical answering services and newer on-call management platforms are designed to help simplify the business of healthcare so your team can stay organized and efficient, they are not created equal.
With that in mind, we have selected 14 critical points to consider when evaluating a medical answering service. The list below will help you more easily assess your unique needs and priorities against the capabilities of each provider.