Within any medical practice, the most important concern is patient care. From the moment a new or returning patient calls, they expect to be greeted warmly and to be met by someone who is empathetic, knowledgeable, and professional. In most cases, the front desk staff sets the tone as that initial point of contact—whether it’s staffed by in-house personnel or a virtual receptionist.
When most people think of virtual receptionists, it’s usually within the context of using a virtual receptionist for small business. Today, however, virtual receptionists are used in a wide range of industries, including legal services, healthcare, and real estate.
Just how important is the front desk staff in a medical practice? As noted in a study published by the British Journal of General Practice, front desk receptionists serve as patients’ “point of entry to the healthcare system,” making them “the most accessible member(s) of the care team” who make “a significant influence on patients’ perception of their care.”
With this in mind, some practices are skeptical of virtual receptionists, unsure how they deliver the same level of care and attention without relying exclusively on in-house personnel. In this article, we’re looking at virtual receptionists’ role in helping deliver a top-tier patient experience.
What Does a Front Desk Receptionist Do in a Medical Office?
While some responsibilities may vary depending on the setting, medical receptionist duties commonly include many—if not all—of the following:
- Answering patients’ billing and insurance questions.
- Educating patients with information and resources related to their condition(s) and/or treatment options.
- Ensuring that patients’ personal information is complete and up-to-date.
- Greeting patients and visitors as they arrive at the office.
- Keeping patient records organized and accessible.
- Managing medical providers’ calendars.
- Performing clerical work or secretarial support as needed.
- Processing patient payments.
- Receiving, answering, and forwarding/routing incoming calls.
- Scheduling, confirming, and updating appointment details.
- Updating patient records as needed.
How Does a Virtual Receptionist Work in the Medical Industry?
A virtual receptionist works just like a desk-based receptionist, with one major difference—they are not located on the physical premises. Virtual receptionists provide all the same services listed in the previous section’s list without stepping foot in the provider’s office. They use call center or virtual receptionist software to answer and forward inbound calls. And they collaborate, communicate, and coordinate with office staff and medical providers through email, live chat, and other business technologies. With a wide range of integrations available, the team at Berkshire Receptionists can seamlessly integrate themselves with your organization and culture.
Do I Need a Virtual Receptionist for My Medical Practice?
In determining whether your practice should opt for virtual receptionists, it’s important to weigh the benefits or advantages against the cost. In other words, like any business-type decision, it’s all about whether they’ll deliver value. Let’s take a look at each side of this equation, starting with the services they can provide.
What Medical Reception Services Can Be Provided Virtually?
The idea that a virtual receptionist is unable to provide the full range of services as in-house personnel is a misconception. On a practical level, they can do everything in the list of front desk receptionist responsibilities we covered earlier.
That being said, some practices are still skeptical, often citing things like insufficient industry knowledge or a limited ability to provide top-tier customer service as potential disadvantages. These are also myths—in reality, virtual receptionists (like those provided by Berkshire Receptionists) can be fully knowledgeable about the industry and deliver consistent, excellent service while respecting mandates like HIPAA and privacy.
How Much Does a Virtual Front Desk Cost?
According to Consumer Affairs, a virtual front desk receptionist can cost anywhere from $25 to $3,000 per month. The cost ultimately depends on various factors, including the number of receptionists needed, whether 24/7 availability is a priority, and so on. Different providers use different pricing structures and plans, making direct comparisons difficult. The team at Berkshire Receptionists offers transparent and fair pricing for as little as $40 per month.
It’s important to compare these costs with the price of hiring an in-house receptionist. According to Salary.com, the typical salary range for a receptionist is between $33,917 and $43,011. Those figures, of course, don’t account for additional costs, such as recruiting costs, employee benefits packages, onboarding and training expenses, and so on.
How Do Patients Feel About Virtual Receptionists?
While some providers might initially assume their patients would be slow to warm to a virtual receptionist, citing concerns such as an impersonal approach, that’s largely based on an outdated idea of how virtual receptionists work. Consider these counterpoints:
- Patients just want an efficient and seamless experience. Recent studies have shown that a vast majority of patients—as high as 82%—cite their experience in dealing with reception and other staff members as “the most important factor they consider” when choosing a care provider. And over half (62%) say “good communication and continuous engagement” matter the most. These statistics underscore the value of virtual front desk services within a medical practice. Virtual receptionists can provide informative and empathetic support on a 24/7 basis, helping to ensure that nothing slips through the cracks and that patients have a positive impression of your practice and staff.
- They often can’t tell the difference. Ultimately, the best virtual receptionist for a small business or medical practice, will deliver a call experience that is entirely indiscernible from that of a traditional, in-house receptionist.
The Best Virtual Receptionist Services for Your Practice Are a Click (or Call) Away
If you’re considering a virtual receptionist service for your small business or medical practice, look no further than Berkshire Receptionists. We offer 24/7 virtual live receptionist services, driven by empathetic professionals equipped with the industry-specific training they’ll need to become a valuable addition to your team. Learn more about our services, schedule a meeting, or get started today!