Article Date: 5/1/2013

A Judgment Call
phone system

A Judgment Call

Determine which recall phone system meets your needs.

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APRIL JASPER, O.D., F.A.A.O.

Our external and internal marketing efforts live or die with the person who handles our phone calls. Most practices assign the responsibility of recalls to one or more persons in the office. However, this often results in employees simply forgetting to make these calls or being too busy caring for appointed patients to make the calls. Therefore, outsourcing telephone services to an outside company is not a new concept. Large businesses, including medical practices, have utilized this technology for years.

The idea behind this is to increase the time your staff has available to serve patients and decrease the moments in which a patient in the office is neglected due to a phone call with a patient.

Here, I provide a brief overview of the features of these systems, and I discuss how to determine the recall phone service that fits your practice’s needs.

System overview

When utilizing a recall telephone service, the live person who makes calls for your office uses a number that has a local area code to keep patients from ignoring the call. Also, you provide a script that shows your personality, such as “It has been (X amount of time) since you had an eye exam, and Dr. Jasper recommends we make you an appointment to make certain your vision and eye health are both the best they can be.” Patients have no idea the person on the phone is in another state. In my practice, I have found the service recalls approximately six patients an hour.

It is important to understand that most of these companies offer even more options. Most include answering your phones, scheduling appointments, confirming appointments, notifying patients when their orders for glasses and contact lenses are ready, as well as verifying insurance benefits. Also, these services save you money, in terms of payroll and other employee-related benefits that would otherwise be spent for additional hiring.

It is important to look at each service seperately and determine its cost.

Choosing one

To determine which of the aforementioned services are right for you, look at where your challenges are currently in your office.

For example, if it seems that you have difficulty getting the phones answered on a timely basis and yet you have no space to physically position another staff member to help with answering phones, this may be where you want to begin: Doctors who are reluctant to have all their phone services outsourced often start by implementing just one of the above options, such as recalls, and then evaluating the success of the program before implementing more services.

Return on investment

When evaluating return on investment (ROI) with this technology, look at each service separately, and determine its cost.

For example, I’ve found that the recall service with many of these systems usually costs roughly $20 per hour. If it can make you six appointments per hour it works, that results in an ROI of $1,836 per hour worked. (This assumes the national average of $306 revenue, says Key Metrics: Assessing Optometric Practice Performance: 2012 Edition, from Alcon and Essilor’s Management & Business Academy.)

Is it for you?

This service has been extremely profitable in my single doctor-equivalent practice. Therefore, I recommend you research implementing this underutilized technology in your practice. I believe that even the smallest of practices can benefit. OM

DR. JASPER IS IN PRIVATE PRACTICE IN WEST PALM BEACH, FLA. E-MAIL HER AT DRJASPER@AESWPB.COM, OR SEND COMMENTS TO OPTOMETRICMANAGEMENT@GMAIL.COM.



Optometric Management, Volume: 48 , Issue: May 2013, page(s): 58