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.
Generally speaking, a virtual front desk receptionist for a medical practice is a specific kind of virtual receptionist that helps healthcare professionals by offering remote reception services. They manage patient calls, schedule appointments, respond to questions about healthcare services, and handle private medical data, among other responsibilities unique to the medical industry. All patient interactions and data processing are carried out with the highest confidentiality and professionalism thanks to their training in compliance with healthcare industry standards and privacy regulations, such as HIPAA in the US.
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.
In the hectic environment of a medical office, the best virtual medical receptionist is crucial to the smooth operation of your business. They not only facilitate communication between patients and physicians, but they also maintain accurate and well-organized medical records. Virtual receptionists actively participate in and support the entire patient experience, going above and beyond basic administrative duties. Overall, a virtual front desk receptionist is an essential team member in any medical office, performing a wide range of tasks that enhance patient care and operational efficiency.
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. 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, Zoom, 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.
To break it down further, a virtual receptionist works for you medical practice by:
- Ensuring confidentiality and adherence to healthcare rules by utilizing secure platforms to handle patient inquiries and schedule appointments.
- Confirming patient appointments, managing the schedules of healthcare providers, and coordinating remotely with their patients.
- Maintaining and updating electronic health records (EHRs), processing payments, and managing administrative tasks, all from a remote location.
A virtual receptionist essentially acts as a point of contact between your medical office and your patients, making sure that all communication and administrative work is done accurately and with care. This is possible even when the receptionist isn’t physically present in the office.
For businesses looking to step up their customer experience, the receptionists at Berkshire Receptionists ensure interactions and back-end office tasks are completed more efficiently. Because of this, we can provide a seamless workflow for you and your employees. This allows medical facilities like yours to increase productivity without sacrificing quality of treatment or patient satisfaction.
What Is Another Word for a Medical Front Desk Agent That’s Remote?
A remote medical front desk agent is commonly referred to as a medical virtual receptionist. How does this role compare to an in-house receptionist? Two responsibilities of a medical receptionist that can be handled remotely in this role are appointment scheduling and patient coordination. They are able to continue supporting patients and medical professionals without interrupting workflow thanks to the digital tools at their disposal. Using technology to preserve the personalized touch of a conventional receptionist’s service, virtual receptionists represent the modern approach to administrative support in the healthcare industry.
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, medical reception services that can be provided virtually include:
- Scheduling and rescheduling patient appointments.
- Handling patient inquiries regarding services, treatments, and healthcare providers.
- Managing patient intake forms and ensuring personal health information is up-to-date.
- Processing billing and insurance claims.
- Following up with patients for appointment reminders and care check-ins.
- Coordinating referrals and managing communication between primary care providers and specialists.
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 expenses, 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.
- A virtual receptionist is more convenient. Often using a virtual receptionist results in quicker responses to customers’ inquiries and immediate needs—especially if it’s an urgent medical concern. Patients may manage appointments, access information, and address concerns without navigating a confusing—and often frustrating—automated system or voicemail, which is highly beneficial in an industry where efficiency is essential.
Any medical practice’s ultimate objective is to deliver care that is tailored to each individual patient, while remaining efficient and helpful. This is made possible when hiring virtual receptionists, like those at Berkshire Receptionists, who streamline the administrative aspects of healthcare and offer the ease that modern patients have grown to expect.
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!