Common Pitfalls of Traditional Daytime Answering Services or Call Centers For Physician Groups

By Dominique Barbagallo.
March 24th, 2020

hang up phone - common pitfalls of traditional daytime answering services or call centers

          When it comes to managing high call volume, many healthcare practices and physician groups, big and small, choose to utilize some sort of daytime answering service or call center. While healthcare administrators and providers alike may be under the impression that hiring an answering service or call center may make their lives easier – it may just be causing more problems and frustration. Here are some of the common pitfalls of traditional daytime answering services or call centers to be aware of before making a decision.

The Problem: Long Hold Times & Patient Hangups

          It is no secret that no one enjoys being on hold. It not only decreases patient satisfaction, but also affects business in a negative way. Longer hold times for patients means less retention and less referrals. When a large amount of calls are coming through, and there aren’t enough people to answer all of them – should you just hire more call agents? Hiring more agents – it costs more, and it’s just another way to play phone tag to get the patient calling to the right healthcare staff member…and even more hold time! There is an abundance of research suggesting that, not only do people not like to be on hold, but also that nearly 60% of people will hang up after less than one minute. Additionally, the same study concludes that nearly 33% of people think it’s unacceptable to wait at all! To bring home that point even further, another study shows that over 50% of callers will hang up after less than 45 seconds! But the frustration doesn’t stop at being put on hold. While studies show that nearly 2/3rds of callers like the “call-back” method – that is, being prompted right away for a call-back from a real person when they become available – the same studies show that callers expect a call-back within 30 minutes. So, how do call centers and answering services make sure that callers are getting called back within an acceptable time frame?

waiting on hold - pitfalls of traditional daytime answering services

          The solution: Clarus provides physician practice call management for daytime. Clarus Daytime immediately prompts callers to indicate the reason for calling by pressing a corresponding number, and then to either leave their message and information for immediate call-back by the appropriate staff member, get connected to a person right away, or to get something done right away without needing to speak to anyone. That all depends on how the health practice would like it set up, based on what’s most clinically important to their patients and what’s most financially important to their business. These messages can be securely transcribed for faster triage. Callers are never on hold, and all information, including the day and time, is captured by our automated system. But then, how do we make sure callers aren’t waiting too long for a call-back? At the end of the day, healthcare providers make the biggest difference. But, our Daytime system has plenty of accountability and documentation features to ensure timely follow-up. The best part of all this? You didn’t need to hire more staff or call agents to make up for the increased call volume!

The Problem: No Documentation or Accountability

          With traditional daytime call centers and answering services, a patient can call in and leave a message, there’s no process to ensure that the patient’s call was returned or if their needs were met. If the call was taken care of, how does the provider or other staff members know? If the caller still needs attending to, how does anyone know? If the patient says they never got a call-back, how do we know if they did or didn’t? How does anyone know anything about that caller or how the call went? Traditional phone systems have limited to no way of documenting communication with patients and staff. The last thing healthcare professionals want to do is play the game of “he said, she said.”

daytime dashboard

          The solution: With traditional phone systems, it is virtually impossible for office managers to manage accountability regarding patient call-backs. Clarus’s Daytime call management system not only dates and time stamps each in-bound call, but staff can also leave notes on the call activity so you actually know that each patient was taken care of – when and how! Keeping staff informed is crucial to efficient work-flow and better patient care. With our cloud-based system, you also have the ability to forward information either to a provider for immediate attention, or to clinical or administrative staff for a follow-up. Office staff can view all call and staff activity at any time from our easy-to-use dashboard.

The Problem: Little to No Insight On Calls & No Way to Prioritize Them

          Wouldn’t it be nice if, when a patient called in, the caller ID would display what they were calling for? Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen. When using a traditional phone system, we don’t know the reason for calls until we answer them, which can result in less efficient, time-wasting call transferring or placing patients on hold. When a practice knows what a patient is calling for, they can have the appropriate person handle it. With less call insight, practices have no way to organize or prioritize which calls are more urgent or valuable to them.

daytime call management dashboard

          The solution: Clarus’s Daytime call management automated and cloud-based system captures the reason for calls right away, routing calls to the correct team member, as well as sorting and organizing them onto an easy-to-navigate dashboard. Dashboards are customized to your practice’s needs so that you can organize how you’d like to sort and prioritize your inbound calls. Messages can be transcribed from speech to text for faster triage and turn-around time. You can view which calls have been responded to, when they’ve been responded to, by who, and any notes left from staff or providers. All call activity is in one central, easy-to-view location where you can see what each call was for. With greater insight into your high volume calls, you can effectively manage and prioritize them for your practice and improve patient care.

The Problem: Hiring More Full-Time Staff or Agents To Handle Increase In Call Volume

          When physician groups and practices become inundated with calls, especially in quarter 4 when deductibles have been met and vacation times haven’t been used, they may turn to a call center or third-party answering service, or even hire more staff of their own. Hiring more staff obviously costs a practice more financial expense, as well as valuable time training the new hires. Hiring a call center or third-party answering service can pose a similar problem. If that third-party service gets more calls coming through, they’re going to have more agents get involved, which will most likely come out of your pocket. Speaking of your pockets, a third-party answering service will usually charge by call volume. The more calls you get, the more money you’ll be spending. So, come quarter 4, you may not even be able to afford that service.

stethoscope laying on money

          The solution: Clarus’s Daytime call management gives healthcare staff the tools they need to effectively handle any amount of calls in an efficient manner, without the need to hire more full-time employees! And, unlike a traditional call center or answering service, Clarus offers fixed pricing – so we don’t charge based on the amount of calls, and you’ll always be able to know what you’re going to spend each quarter.

Consider The Options

          When deciding on an answering service or call center for your health practice, it’s important to consider all of the common pitfalls you may run into with traditional daytime answering services or call centers. We’re not saying it has to be Clarus, but we are making sure that you’re aware of typical problems that can come with many call services out there. But, if you do decide to improve your practice’s workflow using Clarus, you can contact us by form, email, or phone and request a free demo to see how it can work for you.