How much is your voicemail really costing you?

Many Psychiatrists depend solely on their office voicemail for all patient communications. It's a common practice across the country to allow every phone call to go to voicemail and then, when time allows, listen to numerous voicemail messages and attempt to return multiple phone calls. The message retrieval process typically takes place several times each day. It is such an ingrained business practice that most psychiatrists don't give it a second thought; that it's just a requirement of being a solo practitioner. But what if this age old practice was causing a loss of income, a drain on your billable clinical time and an inconsistent and inadequately filled appointment schedule? All of these are true, in addition to the negative impression prospective patients experience when they encounter multiple voicemail systems in their search for a new psychiatrist. Not to mention the toll this repetitive practice has on the busy physician. Allowing your office voicemail system to be the front line of your medical practice unintentionally comes with great cost.

How much uncompensated time have you spent over the years leaving voicemail messages for people who first left a voicemail message for you? The "phone tag" process sometimes lasts several rounds before finally connecting with what is probably by now, a slightly frustrated caller.

The answer is not to hire an expensive office assistant to come in and take over that responsibility. That "solution" defeats the purpose of having a solo practice with minimal overhead. An employee requires a large salary, benefits, taxes, and office space and equipment. An Answering Service is not the answer either. Although an Answering Service is more cost effective, it, by its very definition, it's simply an answering machine, unable to take care of the many patient needs that an in-office assistant would easily handle.

So what is the answer? There is a solution to this problem that does not require that you hire anyone or contract with an impersonal answering service. The answer is to have your own, professionally trained, personally assigned, remote Patient Care Administrator. The cost is far less than that of an in house employee and if you follow our practice recommendations, based on our years of experience, having a remote practice administrator can virtually be without cost and in many cases actually increase the income of a practice.

If I were reading this letter I would be wondering at this point, "How does having a Patient Care Administrator work and what is it going to cost me?" We realize, that for most physicians, the thought of having someone working with them who is not physically in their office, is a foreign concept and that is a completely normal reaction. What I can tell you is that over the last 10 years we have developed a program of remote assistance specifically designed to aid psychiatric practices. Modern technology allows your PCA to function at the same professional level as an in-house employee for far less than half the cost. In fact, the costs associated with having an in-house employee are a drain on the practice budget, whereas, a Patient Care Administrator is designed to increase the practice income. Allow me to explain.

When you hire an in-house assistant, you take on much more responsibility than simply paying your employee's salary. The typical metropolitan area office assistant's salary ranges from $17-$25 plus per hour. This does not take into consideration Federal, State and unemployment taxes, health insurance, and vacation pay, other benefits, bonuses, and office equipment or office space. According to a recent US Government study, the actual cost of hiring an employee, depending upon that employee's benefit package, can add an additional 30-45% to the actual cost of an employee.

In stark contrast, when you have a professional PCA assigned specifically to your practice, Monday-Friday, 9am to 5pm, you pay $12/hour and nothing more. There are no taxes, benefits, additional office space or equipment to provide. We provide our own equipment, office space and we even pay your assistant on your behalf, so there is never any payroll transaction for you to worry about.

Your PCA will be assigned to you at the beginning of your free one-week trial period. Prior to beginning your free trial, your PCA will have already started to become familiar with your practice. From that point on, you will always have the same PCA assigned specifically to your practice. Your office telephone will ring directly to the desk of your PCA with your practice name and voicemail. The PCA quickly becomes an adjunct member of your front office staff. Your PCA will then begin relationship building with both you and your patients, and as is typically the case, you will begin hearing positive comments from your patients almost immediately.

Both you and your PCA will have secure, real time access to your calendar and you will simultaneously be able to schedule appointments either using your own office based practice software or our free software. Because your PCA will answer the phone live, your new patient "capture rate" will increase and "phone tag" with current patients will effectively be eliminated. You typically will begin to see a more consistently filled office schedule. If you are still building your practice, we can refer patients to you from nearby practices that we work with that are no longer accepting new patients (permission is always sought from the referring physician beforehand.)

Your PCA will also have real time "chat" access with you throughout the working day, for instant notification of contact with patient or other callers where immediate physician response may be necessary. Your PCA will record all interactions with patients and other callers in a daily activity report. Your PCA will record and fill (with your authorization) all non-controlled prescriptions requests, either electronically or verbally to the patient's pharmacy. Your PCA will also electronically and/or verbally contact various insurance companies and pharmacies to complete medication prior authorizations. As prior authorizations are becoming more commonplace, they take more and more time to complete.

Your PCA is available to assist you in any way possible. Your patients will soon come to rely on your PCA for handling their administrative needs, thus eliminating your need to continually check your office voicemail and involve yourself in hours of non-billable phone calls each week.

Upon completion of your free trial period with your PCA, an experienced RemotelySpeaking consultant will schedule an appointment with you to conduct a free analysis of your practice and make suggestions and recommendations where appropriate. Typically, the analysis will pin point areas in your practice where possible income streams are not being taken advantage of. The consultant will also identify possible office practices and/or policies or lack thereof, which may negatively be affecting physician workload or income. Following the advice of our practice consultant can often lead to increased profits whereby absorbing the cost of your PCA, in part or in whole. Depending upon the activity level of the practice, further increased profits may be realized above and beyond the cost of your PCA. We can eliminate a large portion of your administrative workload and at the same time conceivably expand your earning potential.

When explaining RemotelySpeaking to physicians it's often said, "Oh, you mean it's an answering service". That assumption could not be more inaccurate. When a patient calls a practice utilizing an Answering Service, he or she will typically be met with a monotone call taker who often sounds less than enthusiastic. A message is retrieved and if the message is urgent the call taker will notify you. If the call is of a routine nature, a call backlist is generated by the multiple call takers who answer the practice telephone. That list is then faxed or emailed for later handling by the physician, whereby adding to the administrative workload.

Your patients form no personal connection with an answering service call taker because each time a call is made the patient speaks with a different call taker, a caller taker who typically is unfamiliar with the patient, their history or their reason for calling.

As explained earlier, an answering machine and a call taking answering service are quite similar and rather impersonal. On the other hand, a PCA is a live and caring assistant, who knows the practice, knows your patients and has a close working relationship with the physician. Your PCA will handle a range of patient requests eliminating a large portion of administrative workload that formally occupied so much for the physician's daily routine.

For over a decade RemotelySpeaking has pioneered the use of remote practice administration. There is a much better way to run your practice and with one phone call you can experience the freedom that having a professional Patient Care Administrator affords. We hope you take this opportunity to place that call to us today.

We look forward to serving you.

Graham Buck, President

What Our Clients Say

"I really don't tell you often enough how much I appreciate your hard work and how happy I am to have you. You are very much a part of my practice. The patients depend on you for so much."

Audrey Moss, M.D., Arlington VA

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We offer each prospective new client a one-week FREE TRIAL of our Patient Care Administrator Services. There is no obligation to continue the service if you are not 100% satisfied. Please call or email us today to set up your free trial period.

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