Medical Office Phone Systems
When you run a small medical office, one of the biggest advantages you have over larger healthcare providers is your customer service. You are able to provide personalized, targeted customer service to a small base of patients whom you probably know by name. But what about your phone system? If your legacy phone system is inefficient, slow, or just not letting you give your best to your customers, your business could suffer. Customers hate having to wait a long time to talk to someone who can help them, having to waste time repeating information they already provided you earlier, or wait while you write down their information to schedule an appointment. Frustrations such as these can hurt your customer satisfaction levels and drive business to competitors. Choosing the right phone system for handling customer service issues can help you to address these challenges.
Small Medical Office Communications Challenges
As a small medical office, you strive to provide personalized service to your patients, but is your phone system letting you down? Here are some challenges you may have encountered with your existing phone system:
- Trouble getting through: Issues such as being unable to reach a representative for help, having trouble scheduling an appointment, or receiving incorrect information generate some of the most negative online reviews.
- Long wait times: One of the biggest causes of healthcare customer complaints is long wait times on the phone while waiting for customer service agents. One in five patients switches doctors due to frustration over long wait periods.
- Overworked staff: Poor communications workflows can leave staff members trying to handle too many tasks at once, such as answering phones, answering questions from patients in waiting rooms, collecting insurance information, and checking patients in. Trying to manage all these tasks at once can stress staff out, creating tensions with customers.
- Billing problems: Eight in ten medical bills contain errors, according to Medical Billing Advocates of America. Often these errors are hidden from patients since an itemized breakdown of costs is not presented. Even when bills are accurate, customers may complain because no one explained to them how much their procedure would cost.
Requirements for a Small Medical Office Phone System
With so many potential problems that can hurt your business, you need a comprehensive solution to these challenges, addressing issues such as workflow organization and standard operating procedures. A key component to resolving these items is an efficient phone system. When selecting the best phone system for small medical office needs, look for a number of key features that can help improve your customer communications:
- Automated self-support options: A majority of customer service issues can be handled through self-support options. Using a phone system that includes automated interactive voice response (IVR) support and integrates with other self-support channels such as chatbots can significantly reduce customer wait time, as well as reducing the workload on your staff. Allowing customers more self-service options also lowers the frequency of complaints about staff handling of support issues.
- Integration of automated and live support channels: While customers can handle many issues through self-support, a significant number of tickets will require live support, and not being able to reach a human representative can be frustrating to customers who need help. This makes it imperative that phone systems which include automated support options integrate smoothly with live support options.
- Unified communications for all channels: The best way to ensure smooth integration of automated and live support is to use a unified communications solution that uses a single interface to manage your phone and IVR channels as well as other support channels such as web chat, chatbots and email. This ensures that representatives assisting customers on one channel will have access to previously provided information about the customer, thereby providing continuity of service.
- Security: Phone systems for small medical offices must partner with a provider who complies with all applicable security standards for HIPAA and the Payment Card Industry (PCI) data security standard(for payments over the phone). This helps avoid billing problems that can stem from security issues.
Medical Office Phone System Features To Consider
Security is one of the most important features for any medical office phone system and should incorporate voice and data encryption. In addition, the system should have access control features in order to ensure that only authorized staff can handle sensitive patient medical information (PMI). Security and protection of PMI isn't a choice, it is mandated by HIPAA regulations. Violating HIPAA regulations can result in extensive damage to the business, from being sued to loss of credibility.
Many offices have staff at different locations, and need to stay constantly connected with them to maintain operational efficiency. Remote employees should be able to securely connect into the phone system and have access to all the tools needed to do their job. A mobile app that can access the system is vital for staff on the go. Imagine a doctor sitting in an airport who needs to listen to the latest call from a patient and needs the associated notes and history. Sure, all of that could be sent as separate pieces but it would take a lot of time. With a unified phone system, everything can be accessed through one app.
Call recording is another feature that is required for any medical office phone system. The ability to listen repeatedly to exactly what a patient is communicating can bring a level of clarity that may not have been present during the initial call. Also, additional parties don't have to depend on a single, initial interpretation of the patient's verbal account. They can listen to the source directly. Recorded calls are also often used for quality assurance.
With many medical offices using multiple software systems, any phone system should integrate into existing systems. Some popular integrations include:
- Microsoft Dynamics (ERP and CRM)
- Zendesk for support tickets
- Net Suite for monitoring all aspects of your business
Which existing systems does your office use? Ensure that any phone system will work with them. You might think that your finance software doesn't need to integrate with the phone system. Then a year down the road, you may need the functionality to integrate accounts payable with the phone system so that a customer's billing history can be displayed by a representative during a call, but since the two systems are incompatible, you lose out on efficiencies. Good planning will help you make the right choices the first time around.
Video conferencing is another popular feature, especially with the rise of telemedicine, which is common in medical offices. Features to look for in video conferencing are the number of people that can be on the call while maintaining crystal clear audio and video. Additional video conferencing features include the ability to join calls from different devices and easy transition from a voice call to a video call.
To summarize, some of the most important medical office phone system features are:
- Remote access from different devices
- Call recording
- Integration with existing systems
- Video conferencing
Best Phone System for Small Medical Office
Discussions with medical office phone system providers will help you understand which features you need to select. Your relationship with a provider before any purchase matters because it's a window into what any future relationship will be like after the purchase.
At 8x8 we don’t just try to force fit an existing solution to your needs, we take the trouble to partner with you to understand which phone system solution works best, and try to provide the most feature-rich medical office phone system for your business. Call 1-877-804-2427 or fill out our online form to request a no-obligation quote from an 8x8 Product Specialist.