When Insurance and Patients Start Demanding 24/7 Availability

It would be really nice if injuries, illnesses, and dental issues only happened during 9-5 working hours.  However, we know that’s not the case.  The need for medical and dental care can spring up at any time.  In fact, it seems like most healthcare situations happen after hours at really inconvenient times.  Of course, on the other hand, healthcare providers can’t be available 24/7.  It’s a truly challenging situation that has to be navigated carefully by practices that want to provide the needed care and maintain their reputation, but also not burn out their staff.

Increasing Demand for 24/7 Availability

While patients are starting to expect 24/7 availability similar to how they can order anything on Amazon 24/7, insurance companies are also asking medical providers and dental offices to make sure they have 24/7 availability too.  The good news for healthcare organizations is that there are options available to provide 24/7 availability without burning out your already overworked staff.

As highlighted in this recent case study, this was exactly the situation Complete Dental Care faced.  Their insurance was requiring them to offer 24/7 availability.  This was a major challenge since they only had two dentists and 12 employees.  To meet the insurance requirements, they decided to work with an answering service, WellReceived.  WellReceived allowed them to provide 24/7 availability to patients without putting added stress on their staff.

What’s great about this decision is that Complete Dental Care was able to meet the insurance requirement while improving the patient experience at the same time.  Their patients gave them positive feedback on the change and were grateful that a real person was answering the phone versus getting sent to an answering machine after hours.

Leveraging Technology

One of the keys to this improved patient experience was leveraging the WellReceived mobile app together with a 24/7 medical receptionist.  This allowed the practice staff to get instant notifications and be able to listen to call recordings even when they were not in the office.  This let them determine next steps quickly to address emergent situations if needed, while allowing them to save those patients who could wait until they were back in the office.

The reality in medical practices and dental offices today is that the patients are more demanding and have higher expectations around availability.  There are a lot of factors that contribute to this including people working longer hours, multiple parents working, and patients who now expect their healthcare experience to model their consumer experience which is highly available.

Elevating Practice Reputation

What’s interesting though is that while patients are definitely embracing more self-service tools in healthcare, there are still a number of situations and groups of patients that want to talk to a human.  For many patients, we don’t yet know which parts of our care are appropriate for self-service and which aren’t.  Being able to talk with a human even after hours can be exactly what a patient needs in that moment of healthcare concern.

One of the other benefits of offering a 24/7 medical receptionist is the impact on a medical or dental practice’s reputation.  Going to the doctor or dentist is not really something that anyone wants to do.  It is not like going to Disneyland.  However, just because seeking medical help is not really “fun” does not mean we should not make the experience great for patients.  That includes being available for patients when it is convenient for them and in a way that feels caring and welcoming.  Doing so will be key to maintaining a practice’s reputation in the community and relationships with their patients.

While we love to talk about AI and automation in healthcare, and it has its place, it is not always the answer.  Plus, it is really interesting to see how something like a medical answering service staffed by humans hits the goal of happy patients, happy staff, and happy providers.

WellReceived is a sponsor of Healthcare Scene

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