Imagine this. A small medical practice is having growing pains. Their waiting room is full of patients, phones are ringing off the hook, babies are crying, cell phones are jingling, and the doctors are all running late. The frenzied office staff is trying their best to remain calm while juggling the increasingly impatient onsite patient inquiries, and the incessantly ringing phones. Slowly, they plow through their workload, getting patients into exam rooms, processing payments, and booking future appointments. One nurse is on the phone with an elderly patient, trying her very best to understand the symptoms of his ailment. He is having trouble articulating, and she is having trouble hearing over the cacophony in the office. She asks him some more questions, and then repeats them, as the patient is having trouble understanding her. She speaks a little louder, hoping this way he can understand her better. She can’t hear a word he’s saying and is almost shouting into the phone. “When are those phones going to stop ringing?!?”, she thinks in frustration.
If you can relate to this, my heart goes out to you. As a patient, or parents of patients, it can be very unpleasant, even downright frustrating, to be in an environment like this one. It’s not like you have nothing better to do than to sit in a packed noisy waiting room, not knowing when you’ll finally get to see the doctor. It seems very unfair. You’re taking time off from work, or whatever responsibilities you have, to see the doctor. You’re supporting his business. Yet, it doesn’t seem like he cares. The attitude feels almost as if the doctor is doing YOU a favor by seeing you! If you come late, you miss your appointment, and have to pay a missed appointment fee. However, if the doctor is late, they don’t have to compensate you! Besides, when are those phones going to stop ringing?!? That noise is just driving you insane! Perhaps it’s time to start looking for a new doctor.
As a member of the office staff, my heart goes out to you! Your job is a thankless one. Day in and day out, you’re dealing with angry patients. They’re angry because they feel as if they have to wait indefinitely in a crowded noisy environment, and it’s all somehow your fault! No one notices how you work tirelessly booking their appointments, processing their payments, helping them with their insurance forms, answering their questions, and getting them into their exam rooms. No one thanks you for your hard work, and those phones just don’t stop ringing! Perhaps it’s time to start looking for a new job.
As a practice owner or partner, my heart goes out to you, too! You have a lot on your mind. First and foremost, you’re trying to be the best doctor you can possibly be. Because of your expertise and professionalism, you’ve earned a great reputation, which has led to an explosion of growth to your business. You have a steady stream of patients, and your schedule is always full. However, you are experiencing typical growing pains. Do you hire additional office staff to handle appointment bookings, or will that set you back? Do you have enough call volume to justify additional appointment booking staff, or is the current call volume just from patient inquiries? Do you bring on additional doctors to ease the waiting room congestion, or are you taking on too much risk? What will happen if there are no shows? This will negate any benefit of hiring additional doctors, as you won’t have the money to cover them. You really do value the business granted to you by your patients, but you’re not sure how to give them that world class experience they deserve, while maintaining a viable business at the same time. The same goes for your office staff. You want them to be happy here, to enjoy the work they’re doing, and enjoy working for you. You realize that your staff is unhappy, and that puts your business at risk. What can you do about it? Also, how can you stop that incessant ringing without losing any phone calls?
There is another thing that’s on your mind. Next week is the big golf tournament that you’ve waited for all year. This event is really important to you. Besides it being therapeutic, all the leading doctors and suppliers from your region will be there. This is a tremendous business networking event, and it would be counter-productive to NOT attend! However, you also have several important calls, which you’re expecting, during the golf tournament. You can’t miss those calls either. What should you do?
One more thing is on your mind. At the golf tournament (assuming you get to go), you will be speaking with a local doctor who is looking to sell his practice. Assuming you can negotiate a good deal, this will instantly double the size of your business. The challenge you will then have will be how to promote brand uniformity across both locations, so that when patients call either office, they are greeted the same way? You also want to be able to transfer calls across offices so that no matter which office people call into, they can reach anyone at the practice. How do you establish your brand without a major capital investment?
Let’s review the challenges before we head into the solution:
- You are clearly understaffed. However, do you have enough call volume to justify hiring additional appointment booking staff, or is your staff just answering patient inquiries, which would require an adjustment in process?
- How to combat no-shows?
- How to stop the incessant ringing without losing business?
- How to be in 2 places at once; how to attend events without losing the ability to conduct business?
- Scalability and how to establish brand uniformity across your entire organization without a major capital investment?
Now, let’s address these challenges, one by one.
Challenge: You are clearly understaffed. However, do you have enough call volume to justify hiring additional appointment booking staff, or is your staff just answering patient inquiries, which would require an adjustment in process?
Solution: In order to effectively manage your call answering staff, you first need to measure your call volume. With the SimiPlex Cloud Based Solution, you can run analytics reports on your incoming calls. The metrics produced by these reports will show you, not only how many calls you received, but also what kind of calls you received, and more importantly, WHEN you received them. You can then determine your peak call volume time period for the week. Then, apply some formulas to the data to determine whether or not to hire a full time receptionist. For example, let’s assume that 25% of callers will book an appointment. Let’s also assume, you’re loosing 25 calls on your busy hour (reports will show you that). Suppose a regular office visit is $75. 25% of 25 is 6 (rounding it down to the nearest whole number). Multiply 6*75 = $450. This is how much business you’re losing due to not having a full time receptionist. Assuming a receptionist gets paid $15/hour for 8 hours, your cost is $120 a day. Utilizing these reports will empower you to make decisions such as which days of the week to hire additional staff.
This is also very helpful the other way around. If you’re looking to cut costs, but don’t know if you can eliminate the receptionist, the call volume reports can also help you make that determination.
Challenge: How to combat no-shows?
Solution: With the SimiPlex Cloud Based Solution, you can integrate your phones to most cloud based CRM Packages and Calendars. If your practice is not using a CRM package, you can also integrate your phones to Microsoft Outlook and Google contacts. This means that every time a patient calls in, her history and next appointment pop up on your computer screen, so you can easily remind her of her upcoming appointment. We also offer SMS reminders for proactive appointment confirmation. There 2 combined solutions help increase patient attendance by 68%. According to a PubMed study mentioned in the Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare, regarding the use of telephone and SMS reminders to improve attendance at hospital appointments, the study shows that a 39% improvement in the baseline attendance rate can be expected when manual reminders are employed, and a 29% improvement when automated reminders are used.
Challenge: How to stop the incessant ringing without losing business?
We get it. At times it gets really busy. The receptionist is performing double duty by simultaneously checking in onsite patients, as well as booking phone appointments. While all this is happening, the phones continue ringing incessantly. All that noise is very disturbing to patients and office staff, alike. In the long run, this can hurt your business. However, if the phones don’t ring, you won’t book enough appointments to remain profitable. What can you do about this?
Solution: With the SimiPlex Cloud Based Solution, you can setup an automated queue so that while the phones do ring, they only ring one at a time. If the receptionist, or front desk, is on the phone, the calls will queue until she becomes available again. This way, while the calls are still coming in, your environment remains calm and inviting, enabling you to deliver to your patients that world class service they deserve. As a bonus, with the touch of a single button, you can forward all calls to voicemail.
Challenge: How to be in 2 places at once; how to attend events without losing the ability to conduct business?
You have a life to live. One you want to enjoy, with family, friends, and doing the things you love! Possibly travelling. You also have a business to run. How can you do both at the same time?
Solution: The SimiPlex Cloud Based Solution has a feature called Mobile Twinning, which automatically and simultaneously rings your desk phone AND your mobile phone for ALL calls, ALL the time! Because it functions automatically, it is simple to use, and reliable. It works all the time. With Mobile Twinning, you hand out to your clients and contacts a single phone number, your office number. Mobile Twinning grants you the freedom and flexibility to balance your work life and personal life. With Mobile Twinning, you can answer calls from anywhere. You can take a vacation and customers won’t even know that you’re gone! So why be stuck at the office? Let the office come to you! Pairing your mobile device to the cloud gives you this new found freedom! You are still available on a work line, but you’re still able to do the things you love, when they matter the most!
Challenge: Scalability and how to establish brand uniformity across your entire organization without a major capital investment?
As a medical practice grows beyond their initial location, and expands to multiple offices, they need their communication system to grow with them and adapt to their changing needs, as opposed to holding them back. With legacy premise based phone systems, some of the challenges growing businesses face are as follows:
- Disparate systems at each office with no ability for interoffice transfers. – Calls can only be routed to staff members who are currently physically at that location.
- In house expertise is required to manage and maintain the phone equipment. – In order to make any changes to your phone system configuration, you need to have someone on staff that is capable of making those changes. This is an added expense to running your business.
- Toll charge when making interoffice calls. – Collaborating with your staff and coworkers incurs an expense every time you pick up the phone to talk to them.
- Lack of brand uniformity across offices.
Solution: The SimiPlex Cloud Based Solution grows with your business. Let’s address each of the challenges listed above:
- Disparate systems at each office with no ability for interoffice transfers – Since its connectivity is to the cloud and not to a physical location, it is able to easily scale to the needs of your business. If you add new offices, just add phones and you’re done! All the system programming and routing intelligence is stored and maintained in the cloud. Therefore, the ability to route calls between offices, is no more complex than routing calls down the hall!
- In house expertise is required to manage and maintain the phone equipment. – All phone system user management changes are made via our online portal, and is so simple to use, that anyone can do it! Alternatively, our helpful support staff will be more than happy to assist you with any system administration you require.
- Toll charge when making interoffice calls. – Since all your offices will be running on a single cloud based system, there are no toll charges when calling between offices. To reach a person, anywhere in the company, just dial their internal extension, even if they are on the other side of the world!
- Lack of brand uniformity across offices. – Since all your offices will be connected to a single cloud based system, all system and automated attendant greetings will have a uniform voice and call flow. Furthermore, you can easily setup a distributed contact center, where phone receptionists are load balanced across all your locations. With included comprehensive call analytics, the SimiPlex Cloud Based Solution will help you provide your customers with the true world class service they deserve. With service like this, you will knock your competition out of the park!
My question for you is, what are you doing in your business to enable you to serve your clients and staff members, from any place, at any time? I’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below.
A little bit about SimiPlex. We create simple solutions for all your telephony problems. Our goal is to ensure you have the best experience possible, while ensuring security, reliability, and excellent customer service. Above all, we work hard for you as well as providing affordable solutions. Check us out today! http://www.simiplex.com.