How Patient Friendly Are Medical Answering Services?

by | Nov 3, 2015 | Healthcare

One of the most common sentiments you hear doctors and clinical management staff talk about when it comes to medical answering services is choosing the style and type that is most comfortable for the patient. Of course, this is also closely followed by choosing a service that is accurate, effective and that maintains full compliance with all HIPPA requirements at all points in the process of interacting with patients and passing on messages to doctors.

Traditionally, and mistakenly, many doctors and clinical managers have assumed that talking to a live person is the best choice in medical answering services. Perhaps this is considered the gold standard because, until a few years ago, it was really the only option to consider.

The Error Issue
However, talking to a non-medically trained individual at an answering service does pose significant issues. One is the error factor, or the inability of the operator to know what specifically to ask the patient to determine the severity of the medical issue.

This can result in one of two issues. It can result in too often escalating the call and contacting the doctor on-call, or it can result in missing or misunderstanding the significance of what the patient is trying to convey. It may also include failing to repeat or to emphasize a specific point the patient made when he or she called into the medical answering services, giving a less that complete picture to the doctor on-call.

The Comfort Issue
In some cases, with live operator medical answering services, a patient may also feel uncomfortable in sharing specific issues, symptoms, or questions with someone they don’t know.

Even if the service is completely HIPPA compliant, the patient may not understand that the operator cannot repeat or talk about the conversation and that the message is protected under HIPPA. This could result in less than full information provided to the doctor or even the patient downplaying the symptoms once on the phone with the live operator.

The Answer
To ensure that patients can request emergency or non-emergency message options, to allow the message to be in the patient’s own words, and to also ensure that the patient feels comfortable in leaving the message, a well-designed virtual phone system is the answer.

These medical answering services can be customized to include the message and information your patient needs to have, and it also ensures that your doctors and clinical staff will never miss a phone call or be provided with just some of the necessary information again.

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