12 Ways a Medical Office Phone System Improves Office ProductivityPosted: October 22, 2021 - By Health Dev
A communication system is critical for a busy medical practice and managing patient care. Quick and reliable communication is important for building positive patient experiences and a strong doctor-patient relationship. However, productivity and efficiency are also key for profits, staff satisfaction, and practice expansion.
Technology has helped evolve practices toward greater productivity — and communication technology is no different. As patients continue to become more digitally focused, medical practices are changing the way they communicate. Instead of print advertisements and phone messages, medical offices are using text messages and emails to connect with patients.
However, phones are still central to busy medical offices, which is why an integrated system is important. A feature-rich phone system blends traditional calling with other communication methods, bringing the best practice tools together to enhance your office.
Here are nine ways an all-in-one medical office phone system can improve your front office productivity.
1. Integrated Communication
As technology changes, new ways of communicating with your patients is critical to patient care. Medical practices are switching to Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP systems, which use the internet to transmit communications instead of a landline. Rather than having a phone system that only receives calls and voice messages, VoIP phone systems integrate all types of communications in one place. This allows you to make calls and send email and text messages from a single system.
An integrated system saves time and expenses, allowing you to:
- Review patients
- Send reminders and satisfaction surveys
- Expand your practice reach via text messaging and email marketing
Using one system eliminates multiple software systems and streamlines your tools all in one place.
2. Missed Call Texting and Two-Way Texting
Many patients prefer to communicate via text. A phone system with auto texting and two-way texting allows you to connect with a potential new patient or existing patients. If you miss their call, you can send out an automatic friendly text as soon as they hang up, informing them that you will return their call. Patients can respond to your messages with two-way texting and you can begin building a relationship.
Additionally, machine learning helps prioritize incoming text messages from your patients, bumping the most urgent texts to the top of your list. You can flag messages and teach your system about what is specifically important for your practice. You can also set up an automated text messaging workflow for appointment confirmations and reminders
3. Custom Phone Trees
A phone tree, called an interactive voice response or IVR, is an automated call routing feature that directs callers to the right information or extension. Phone trees can eliminate constant phone calls and redirection from your front office by helping patients find what they need. If your medical office hosts several doctors, you can customize your phone tree and automated greetings to direct patients to the correct practice and front office.
Traditional analog phones often have a call routing system, but VoIP phone systems are simpler to use and update. As your practice grows, you can easily expand and organize your phone tree with more extensions.
4. Call Queues
Your busy practice might have several calls coming in simultaneously — and missed calls can affect patient care and lead to patient frustration. Using a phone system with a call queue allows you to place patients on hold or forward the call to another available front office assistant.
However, long wait times can also be frustrating to patients, which can negatively reflect your practice reputation. You can help manage your patient’s experience with a customizable call queue and set a maximum hold time that will forward patients to an announcement or voicemail if they can’t reach the desk.
5. Call Recording
An all-in-one phone system gives your medical practice significant amounts of data about your practice and your patients. Call recording and call monitoring features allow you to record full conversations with your patients and document patient interactions.
You can monitor call logs and data like time spent on calls, as well as use recordings to onboard and train team members on patient communication and conflict resolution. You can also use recordings to verify missed information, confirm patient requests, and manage liability.
6. Conference Calls
Recent public health events have changed medical practices and many offices now incorporate telehealth and video conferencing. However, using multiple systems makes it difficult to move between software and patient data and history. An all-in-one system helps you streamline your technology, reduce costs, and access relevant patient information immediately during a digital appointment.
Phone systems also include end-to-end security so video conference calls are private and secure. All the data acquired, stored, transferred, and accessed is also HIPPA compliant, allowing you to maintain patient confidentiality even during conference calls.
7. Smart Caller ID
Features like Smart Caller ID allow you to see a patient snapshot while on the phone. Quickly find past and upcoming appointments, insurance information, billing and payments, photos, and contact information during your conversation. You can notify your patients of outstanding payments due or insurance issues, and your staff can avoid wasted time and distractions while discussing important information with patients.
8. Voicemail Override
Many medical offices do not receive voicemail messages from patients based on the volume of incoming calls. In these cases, you can record a greeting with instructions to call back during business hours, book appointments online, or refer to a clinic for emergency care.
If your practice has office closures, an on-call schedule affecting practice hours, or a temporary move to telehealth, you can use a voicemail override to alert patients. This feature is especially helpful for sudden public health crises like the recent COVID-19 pandemic, which can cause significant disruption to medical practice operations. Simply record voicemail greetings and switch them on as required to override your current greeting.
9. Mobile App
Traditional phone systems are not ideal in the current work-from-home landscape and seriously limit your team’s ability to run a practice remotely. With an all-in-one system, your medical office also has access to a mobile app. Use it on a phone or tablet to access patient information, route calls, or send text messages and emails while you’re away from the office.
You and your team can also take calls and telehealth appointments on your smartphone while traveling, visiting other offices, or working at your home office. You can connect it all back to your practice phone number and protect your personal contact information.
The mobile app is also useful in the office. Increase your tech portability and flexibility by installing the mobile app on tablets. You can take patient information with you throughout the office and cut down on technology overhead.
Additionally, create and send mobile forms like health screening reports from the app prior to appointments. These can be completed through a mobile kiosk check-in, which also allows you to limit waiting room capacity and prioritize health and safety.
Part of managing patient care is also communicating new information and results to your patient. You can directly send personal information like lab results through the app’s secure messaging and answer any questions from your patients.
10. Unlimited Long-Distance Calls
There are times your practice might need long-distance calls with patients or consultations with other doctors or specialists in different regions. This can lead to expensive overhead for your practice, forcing you to limit calls and affecting productivity.
With all-in-one systems, all you need is an internet connection and you can make unlimited long-distance calls without extra costs to your monthly package. If your lines are busy, you can also quickly switch to text messaging and maintain communication.
11. Automated Patient Recall
Traditional forms of patient recall like phone calls, voicemail messages, and letter mail are time-consuming and costly. With an all-in-one system, you can drive office productivity with automated patient appointment reminders. Simply customize a text or email workflow and select a timeline to send messages to patients. Choose to send a reminder any time from a few weeks before they’re due back to a few weeks after.
12. Call Tracking and Forwarding
While answering phones is a critical part of managing patients, you can also use calls to analyze your business and marketing strategies. An all-in-one phone system allows you to assign unique tracking numbers to emails or postcards to track data. These unique tracking numbers automatically route to your practice number, but you’ll be able to analyze them and identify which marketing or patient recall method works the best. With this information, you can adjust your strategies to boost productivity and efficiency.
With an all-in-one system, your practice can also forward calls to another number and stay operational. This is helpful if you are traveling to another office or working remotely. Simply turn call forwarding on and have peace of mind.
Increase Your Practice Productivity
All-in-one medical office phone systems integrate patient relationship management software, scheduling and booking software, billing software, medical records technology, and your phone all in one place. With this system, you can simplify your technology, reduce your overhead, and maximize front office productivity and workload.