With the aging baby boomer generation and advances in medicine that make it possible to live longer lives than ever, the demand for home healthcare services such as visiting nurses, companion care, monitoring equipment, durable medical equipment, and in-home hospice are sharply on the rise.
Many of these healthcare related services require 24-hour availability to answer patients’ calls, deliver oxygen tanks, or respond to an emergency. As a result, home healthcare agencies partner with answering services to make sure their clients’ needs are covered around the clock. But there are specific criteria that any healthcare business needs to consider when choosing an answering service, and knowing which questions to ask helps. Here are our top four questions to consider if you have a home healthcare business and are considering hiring an answering service:
How protected will your messages be?
You need to know that your patients’ health information is never put at risk, and that no one other than your designated staff members receives information regarding a patient and their condition. Make sure the service you choose not only educates their employees about why HIPAA regulations matter for you legally and financially, but that also requires the operators to pass an annual HIPAA compliance exam.
Towne uses a HIPAA compliant communication system that allows our staff or enables care-providers to text patient information without putting that information at risk. This system allows the user to send secure, encrypted messages to other providers or all members of their group, and offers the additional option of password protection.
How do they prioritize your calls?
A call center’s answer to this question should be, “Exactly as you tell us to.” The best answering services will understand your priorities and protocols, and know which calls you consider urgent enough to need your attention. The answering service operators should be trained in ascertaining the information to match the criteria specific to your business so they are able to correctly discern if help is required. If it is, they need to know your preferred method of connecting them to the correct staff member on call, and when to escalate that call if there’s no response.
The operators should also know which calls aren’t considered urgent, especially after hours. For example, an on-call physician wouldn’t want to be woken up in the middle of the night to take a call about a patient who needs a refill, just as there would be no need to text the equipment provider to add a piece of equipment to their next-day delivery.
What about performance standards & personalization?
Ask the company you are interviewing how quickly they typically answer calls, how their calls are assigned to the staff, the percentage of their calls that get put on hold and if they know their average hold times.
Along with performance standards, ask if the answering service offers personalized scripts unique to your business, not just your industry. Some of the larger call centers take a cookie-cutter approach with their scripts, but an answering service should enhance your communications, not limit them. No matter what service you are interested in, you should be able to customize how your calls are handled based on what you want your customers to hear in response to the reason they’re contacting you.
Where are the operators based?
One of the most common myths about U.S. answering services is that the operators are all actually in India, or some foreign country, and that language barriers will be problematic. While it’s true that some answering services outsource their work overseas, not all do. Ask where the operators are based, and how they can serve you whether they’re in your hometown or across the country.
At Towne, for example, our receptionists are able to tailor answering and messaging services to each client’s location using customized scripts unique to each client. We’re able to quickly dispatch the closest on-call person to a caller by organizing a customer’s database by zip code, or can give directions based on specific, community landmarks. By customizing each client’s answering service calls and messages, we are able to know and care about their business and their community as if it’s our own..
If you’d like to learn more about how Towne Answering Service can partner with your business to provide personalized, exceptional customer care, please call us at 800-660-4316 for a free consultation, or visit our website to learn more about our various business solutions and service commitment. Whether you are an existing or a new client, Towne Answering Service is always happy to consult with you to create a call center or answering strategy that meets your specific needs and aspirations.