Most of our patients are pretty good about calling us after hours only when the situation is perceived as serious enough that it can’t wait till the morning. However, we also get calls from patients that we think are trying to avoid coming to the office. In other words, they want free advice. This happened often enough that we considered it to be a significant problem. We started charging for after hours calls ($45 per telephone consultation). When patients call in, the message tells them that we charge for consults. We posted the policy on our website too. It’s been a great success for us and patients seem to understand the need to charge for phone consults.
Submitted by: Avery M., St. Paul, MN
We switched from having one of our staff members or the on-call physician answering after hours calls to software program that I found online that greets callers and takes messages. The software program is much cheaper than using a live service and patients didn't seem to mind. But, we soon realized that you get what you pay for. The program was cheap…it kept crashing. We could never get it to work right. Support was non-existent. We spent some time talking to other practices and decided to switch to a virtual office phone system. Lesson learned? Don’t underestimate the importance of reliability and customer support.
Submitted by: Ericka R., Garden Grove, CA
Our office averaged 200 faxes a day. We had multiple fax machines in the office to deal with the volume. We were literally drowning in faxes. But we were comfortable using the fax machines, so there wasn’t much motivation to change. Then one day I was talking to another practice administrator. She works for one of those paperless practices. They switched to online faxing, EMR, the whole works - years ago. I was astounded to hear that they even found a HIPPA-compliant online faxing solution that works with their EMR. I talked to the physicians and we agreed to make the switch. What a difference! We’ve saved so many trees, maybe even a forest’s worth, and it’s so much faster and easier to access and save faxes now. We should have made the switch a long time ago!
Submitted by: Rhoda U., Elizabeth, NJ