The Dangers of Not Having a Professional Medical Answering Service Onboard

The Dangers of Not Having a Professional Medical Answering Service Onboard


Every business should consider enlisting the services of a small business answering service. Medical firms, such as doctor’s offices need to understand the importance of enlisting a professional medical answering service. Answering providers who are not up to the standards of providing for medical firms, such as doctor’s offices, can cost your firm in terms of HIPAA-compliance fines, frustrated patients and empty times in your patient schedule.

Fines for Breaches of HIPAA Compliance –

Some answering companies claim to be compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). Unfortunately, this may not always be the case. HIPAA was enacted to ensure that private medical information is stored and transmitted in a safe and private manner. It is the responsibility of the doctor’s office to ensure that the answering company understands HIPAA and demonstrates they will follow HIPAA guidelines to the letter.

HIPAA guidelines call the medical provider the “covered entity” and the answering provider is called their “business associate”. Both the covered entity and the business associate must follow HIPAA guidelines. However, only the covered entity will be responsible and must pay the fine if their business associate breaches HIPAA as they conduct work on behalf of their client. Fines for HIPAA breaches can reach as high as $50,000 per breach.

Thus, it can be very costly financially if an answering provider is not fully HIPAA compliant. It can cost in terms of community and patient trust.

Patient Frustrations in Interfacing With Nurse Triage Services –

Not every small business answering service provides a smooth and effective hand-off to your nurse triage providers. Effective and professional medical answering services will get all of the information that the nurse triage center needs and then provide all of that information to the nurse triage center in a secure and HIPAA-compliant manner.

Answering companies that do not take the patient’s information and pass it along to the nurse triage center make customers have to provide the same information twice. This is a huge source of frustration for patients, who may be in pain when they are making the call to your office.

A professional answering provider becomes the one gateway for your patient’s calls after hours and during overflow. Professional medical answering providers work with your office and the nurse triage center to create scripts in order to make this flow of information smooth and secure for the patient and for the nurse triage center.

Missed Appointments and Unfilled Cancellations –

A medical firm, such as a doctor’s office is only open about 25 percent of the week. Patients have a need to schedule their appointments 24/7. A professional medical answering provider will have secure access to the doctor’s schedule. This means that they can field calls at all times of the day or night. This provides comfort and a feeling of safety to patients. Their information will be taken before passing it on to the triage nurse, as needed. This results in more patients who are able to schedule appointments with your office.

In addition, a professional medical answering provider will make reminder calls to patients. This helps ensure that they will arrive at their scheduled appointment. If the patient will be unable to come to their appointment, the sooner that the doctor’s office knows of the cancellation, the sooner they are able to fill the space with another patient.

On-Call Changes and Missed Communications –

It takes time to make a phone call and verbally update the answering provider about changes to your on-call personnel’s phone numbers and scheduling. A professional medical answering provider will provide a secure online portal where such information can be quickly updated. This saves your office time, and it saves confusion and missed communications with the answering provider and your on-call staff. It also eliminates patient frustration with situations when the answering service provider is unable to reach the on-call staff member.

Missed Patient Calls in the Office –

Missed Patient Calls in the Office

It is wise to have a professional medical answering provider who is able to offer overflow coverage. Important times are when office personnel are at lunch, at a staff meeting, when you are short-staffed or when the phones are really busy. This allows patients to continue to schedule appointments, seek help or advice, and inform the staff of cancellations even when your staff cannot answer the phones. This helps keep a medical firm’s schedule full of patients and promotes better patient relations. The potential patient who cannot get through may choose another provider whom they can reach. A professional medical answering provider makes this redirection of calls quick and easy.

Double-Booked Appointments –

An answering provider that is not at the top of their game may not have integrated with your scheduling software. The problem with this is that double-bookings may occur. In order to avoid this, professional medical answering providers use a secure portal in order to seamlessly update the schedule so that everyone at the answering provider’s office and the doctor’s office has the updated schedule to work with.

Lack of Information for Patients in a Time of Need –

Patients may have questions about benefits that they need to answer in order to determine if they can schedule an appointment. A professional answering provider will create a script with your office that contains vital information to common patient questions, such as:

  • The patient’s currently available benefits
  • Changes that have occurred with their plan
  • How and when to enroll
  • Available products
  • Requests for information on procedures
  • Coverage plan information
  • Eligibility guidelines

A professional medical answering provider will be able to provide the patient information they need when they need it, 24/7, for their peace of mind.

At Endicott Call Centers, we are a professional medical answering service. We provide the following benefits:

  • Full HIPAA compliance that is guaranteed
  • Smooth interfacing with your nurse triage center
  • Real-time appointment setting capability 24/7
  • Real-time changes in the portal for on-call personnel scheduling
  • Flexibility in the hours of coverage you desire
  • Scripts our answering provider personnel will follow in order to provide patient benefit information 24/7

Contact us at Endicott Call Centers, the small business answering service that is a professional medical answering solutions provider. We will provide you, your patients and your staff peace of mind and improve your office’s productivity.