I had a discussion with one of my clients a few weeks back.
She was very firmly of the opinion patients should able to contact her secretary or her practice at any time of the day.
Respectfully, I disagree.
Patients may indeed be demanding on occasion but the idea of 24/7 is a step too far.
For example, MHM opens it’s phone lines from 7 am Monday to Friday. It closes it’s phone lines at 8 pm Monday to Thursday and 1 pm on a Friday.
However, during those hours the telephone is answered. And answered quickly. None of this “press button one for payments, press button two for appointments, press button 3, etc!
MHM never has done that and it never will.
Instead, the phone is answered.
Interestingly on more than one occasion, I’ve had a caller say to me “Oh a human being has answered the phone!”
Outside of those hours, there is an answering machine with a message stating when we are open and if a message is left we’ll get back to you within the hour.
There is also an answering machine if all the phone lines are in use. Calls are returned within the hour.
Not one single patient has ever complained about that.
Patients are human beings.
They are also human beings concerned with their health.
That’s fairly obvious but worth repeating.
It’s worth repeating because they deserve to be spoken to and not forced to just process their health inquiry electronically.
None of that means I’m against online bookings. Nor am I against using an answering machine. Far from it.
But only outside “normal” working hours.
Once patients are aware of when they can contact a practice and if they are confident, they will be looked after they will be happy.
That is precisely what I said to my client.
Sometime later she called me and agreed.
There is no requirement for 24/7 access.
But there is a BIG requirement for patients to be able to access her practice efficiently during “normal” working hours.