Patients will stop seeing you if calling you is a pain point.

We recently worked with a practice that really could have benefitted from an upgraded phone system. Patients were always complaining that they could never get through to staff. They were having to hold for 5-10 minutes before finally deciding to hang up, to call back and have them be put on hold again. The patient could never seem to reach the direct department they needed to speak with, even if to just leave a message.

The patients also didn’t seem to understand why their calls were not returned immediately. Now we know that almost every office has issues with handing the volume of calls they get daily. We also know that investing in a phone system can be expensive. However, there comes a time when you have to decide, “What is the best decision I can make for my patients and my practice?” And sometimes the answer to that is a phone system that can deliver what you and your patients need.

Here are some general questions that you can use to assess if your phone system is doing your practice more harm than good.

  1. Do you have a phone tree that allows your callers to reach the appropriate person for their request?
  2. Do you have an adequate number of phone lines to handle peak and regular volume?
  3. Are your staff able to make outgoing calls whenever they need to?

Maybe it's not the phones. Maybe it's your processes (or lack thereof). Here is how to evaluate that:

  1. How are nurse calls handled? Who takes these messages, who pulls the voicemails, and is there a process for returning calls promptly?
  2. Does your staff understand the after-hours phone call policy?
  3. Does your staff explain the after-hours policy to patients?
  4. How long are patients kept on hold?
  5. Are your staff asking for the caller’s permission to put them on hold?
  6. Do you have a way to monitor abandonment rates, hold times, or volume of calls?
  7. Is there a phone script for new employees?

We hope that these questions will help you understand where patient care may be falling short. If you need assistance in finding the right phone system and taking the next steps, we are here.