3 Strategies to Reduce Phone Calls into Your Business

Sometimes in a medical practice it feels like the phone never stops ringing. Best practice is to always pick up in one to two rings but sometimes that seems impossible. A recent study showed the average wait time on the phone for a patient was eight minutes!

So how can you reduce the wait time and improve the patient experience without hiring a dedicated receptionist who just answers the phone?

Most calls into the practice are related to follow up questions, scheduling, and prescription refills. Address those issues and you can help reduce the number of calls. Here are some easy ways to get started:

  1. Give patients their printed educational materials, instructions, and/or visit summary before they leave the office. Ideally, the physician has reviewed this information and even heighted some key areas for the patient. This allows the patient to review it at their convenience and get many of the answers to questions without calling back to talk to the nurse of provider. Often this information can also be available on your patient portal. Make sure patients know where to find their medical records, lab results, visit summary and other information online as well.
  2. Talk to patients about what to expect. Let them know when they should expect someone to contact them about tests results or other follow up and when they should return to the office for another visit. Then, have patients schedule their next appointments while they are still in the practice.
  3. Have patients call the pharmacy for refill requests. Many calls are related to prescription refills and a portion of those are refills that are already approved. Begin telling patients to always contact the pharmacy for refill requests. If there is a refill on the prescription it gets refilled right away and if not, the pharmacy can send a request. Consider adding this request to your voicemail (i.e., if this call is about a prescription refills, please call your pharmacy directly). As patients get used to this process, call volume will begin to decrease.

If these tips don’t help reduce calls and managing incoming phone calls continues to be a problem, then consider outsourcing. You can now outsource inbound phone calls and have a service manage scheduling, refill requests, medical requests, and more. It can be more affordable than adding staff and the wait time is often far lower because a service has a bank of operators.

Whatever you choose to do, make sure that patient satisfaction is as much a priority as staff productivity. Patients today say they would leave a practice and find another provider for better customer service.

About the Author

Lea writes educational articles to help medical practices improve their businesses. In addition to Kareo, Lea has written for Medical Manager Health Systems, WebMD...

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