Small healthcare businesses such as dentists, vets and physios often find themselves overwhelmed when juggling the running of the clinic alongside communicating with patients and practitioners. Effective use of telephony and IVR can offer numerous benefits for healthcare companies, including reduced workload and more effective communication.
Running a small healthcare business, such as a dental practice or veterinary clinic, can be a demanding task. One of the significant challenges faced by these businesses is managing the workload and reducing stress for their staff whilst providing a professional and accessible service. This is especially true for businesses with only a small number of employees.
The day-to-day challenges of clinics can be further complicated by the fact that much of the daily work still revolves around telephone communication. With many patients and clients calling every day, receptionists and practitioners (who are often the same person) may find themselves spending more time on the phone than doing other parts of their job. In other cases, businesses with limited resources may find themselves missing important phone calls due to being busy with patients or other tasks.
Fortunately, modern technology offers solutions that can help streamline operations and enhance efficiency. In this article, we will explore how telephony and Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems can assist small healthcare businesses in achieving these goals.
Telephony: The heart of communication for small clinics
Effective communication is the cornerstone of any healthcare business or clinic. The telephone is often the first point of contact for patients or pet owners seeking appointments, information, or advice. Small healthcare businesses can benefit from adopting modern telephony systems such as IVR to manage their communication effectively in an efficient, secure and accessible manner.
IVR systems are automated phone systems that interact with callers through voice or touch-tone keypad inputs. For small healthcare businesses, IVR can significantly improve customer service and reduce the workload for staff in several ways:
1. Call Routing:
Telephony systems can route calls intelligently, directing patients or clients to the right department or staff member. This reduces the need for staff to constantly answer and transfer calls, saving time and minimising frustration. This is beneficial for single-site clinics, but especially useful for healthcare businesses which work across several different sites, for example dentists who have clinics in multiple locations.
2. Appointment Scheduling:
Implementing appointment scheduling via telephony can allow patients to book appointments at their convenience. This can significantly reduce the workload on receptionists and make the process smoother for everyone involved.
Everyone hates waiting in a queue, and receptionists often don’t have time to answer every call immediately. IVR systems can inform callers of estimated wait times and give them the option to hold or request a callback, leading to a more organised and less stressful phone environment. By using callback, callers can hang up whilst keeping their place in the queue, and receive a call when someone is available to speak to them.
4. Information Retrieval:
Patients or clients can obtain basic information like clinic hours, address, or payment options using IVR. This reduces the number of repetitive inquiries handled by staff, and frees up the phone lines for more urgent issues.
Modern telephony solutions also offer information retrieval benefits for the person receiving the call. Features like contact lookup allow receptionists to immediately see who is calling, and automatically open the caller’s profile in their patient database. That means they can instantly get all the information they need to provide swift, effective service.
Combining fixed and mobile telephony
Many small healthcare businesses have a lean organisational structure, often employing only a few employees who nonetheless have to handle several aspects of the business. In many cases, these businesses operate on a single site, or a small number of locations.
Since a single employee has so much responsibility, it’s important that communication is as seamless as possible. The best way of achieving this is combining fixed and mobile telephony. That means using landline or desktop devices alongside mobile phones. This integration of fixed and mobile communication tools offers increased efficiency, improved patient care, enhanced staff flexibility, and a competitive edge in the healthcare industry. Here are some key advantages:
1. Enhanced Accessibility and Responsiveness:
Seamlessly connecting fixed and mobile telephony allows healthcare professionals to remain accessible at all times, meaning they don’t miss important calls. Whether they are in the office, at home, or on the go, they can answer patient inquiries, respond to urgent matters, and maintain a high level of responsiveness.
It also means that the call can always be directed to the right person, even if that person isn’t currently in the office. This accessibility means requests can be handled more effectively, which improves patient satisfaction and can be critical in emergency situations.
2. Flexibility and Mobility:
Healthcare professionals can move freely within the healthcare facility or between different locations without being tethered to a desk. This flexibility is essential in a fast-paced medical environment where immediate decisions and actions can be life-saving. But it can be equally relevant for day-to-day business operations, for example a receptionist being able to manage booking requests whilst out shopping for clinical supplies, or a veterinarian liaising with other staff members whilst out on a home-visit.
3. Cost Savings:
Integrating fixed and mobile telephony can lead to cost savings. With the ability to make and receive calls from mobile devices, healthcare companies may reduce the need for landline phones in every room or office, which can be expensive to maintain.
In conclusion, the seamless integration of fixed and mobile telephony systems offers numerous advantages for small healthcare companies. It empowers healthcare professionals to deliver better patient care, improves staff flexibility, enhances accessibility, and contributes to cost savings. This integration not only benefits the healthcare company but also leads to improved patient satisfaction and competitive advantages in the healthcare industry.
Taking things to the next level
We’ve already discussed some of the core benefits of telephony and IVR, but there are always ways to take things even further. Many healthcare businesses utilise UCaaS to reduce their costs and improve their standard of care. Others integrate their telephony platforms with other services such as patient databases or security systems.
It’s also possible to use Programmability to add more complexity to the call flow, for example by asking callers to enter their verification details using their phone keypad, and then directing the call onwards based on the information they input.
The best telephony solutions are those that you can adapt to suit the specific needs of your business.
Incorporating smart, modern telephony and IVR systems into small healthcare businesses, such as dental practices and veterinary clinics, can lead to significant improvements in operations. These technologies enhance communication, reduce the workload on staff, and ultimately contribute to a more efficient and less stressful work environment. By implementing these solutions, healthcare professionals can focus more on providing quality care to their patients and clients while leaving the administrative and communication tasks to these reliable technologies.
Using solutions such as Telavox means you can give your clients a professional and smooth customer experience, without it being complicated or expensive.