How to Make Responding to Patients Easier and Faster For Providers
By Dominique Barbagallo
May 8th, 2020
Remember when your patient decided to have an urgent medical matter happen in the middle of the night? Yes, we are being sarcastic, because none of us get to choose when urgent medical concerns come up. When they do come up, however, patients rely on the on-call providers to address these concerns. They not only need providers to address them, but they also need them to do so in a timely manner — after all, the patient is probably in a worrisome situation. The longer it takes for a provider to get back to a concerned patient, the more dissatisfied that patient will be. So, how long is getting back to and responding to patients actually taking for busy providers? According to a study from the book, Lean Six Sigma Case Studies in the Healthcare Enterprise, the average time for an after-hours or on-call physician to call a patient back was approximately 29 minutes. If 60% of patients won’t even wait on hold after 1 minute, waiting a half hour or more for a call back will most likely frustrate them, especially during a troubling situation.
It’s Not Always Easy To Call Back Patients Quickly
Providers are busy, and in the medical world, you never know what’s going to happen. There’s also the issue of the time it takes to actually know you have a patient message, listen to it, and then come up with a response. And – let’s face it – the average patient isn’t an auctioneer, so it probably takes a few minutes to listen to their message. The average person speaks at a rate of 130 words per minute. Conversely, the average person reads at a rate of about 250 words per minute – almost double the rate at which it takes to listen to a spoken message from your patient. What this tells us is that it would be much faster for providers to read a written message rather than listening to the patient speak it. And, how long is it before a doctor is even notified about a patient message? In addition to that, what if they’ve been alerted of a message, but got busy and forgot to address it? So many things can interfere with getting back to and responding to patients in a timely manner. Fortunately, there is a way to combat this.
How Clarus After-Hours Can Increase Provider Response Time to Patients
Clarus After-Hours works by immediately prompting callers to indicate the reason for calling by pressing a corresponding number, where they will leave their message and info, then hang-up. These messages are securely transcribed and sent right away. Because the messages can be transcribed from the patients’ voices to written text, providers can triage the patients’ needs at a much faster rate. So, 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 automated After-Hours system has features to ensure the staff and providers do not let calls go unanswered. Providers are notified with the securely transcribed messages (so you don’t need to worry about HIPAA violations!) through immediate automated alerts on their phones from our mobile app. If nothing is done with that call by anyone after a certain time, another notification is given. If more time goes by and something still hasn’t been done, our system will turn the ring function on, as well as notify a designated fall-back staff member or provider to handle it. It works: our average response time from providers who use our After-Hours call management system is about 9.7 minutes – that’s a three times faster response time than doctors who use a traditional answering service! What’s more, staff and providers can view all call activity to see if a patient’s call was addressed, when it was addressed, by who, and any notes that were left.