Healthcare practices are hectic places. Staff are responsible for numerous administrative tasks as well as assisting patients. And most physician practices receive an average of 53 calls each day. And larger medical groups receive more than 200. And that inevitably means there will be missed calls.

Behind every missed call is an upset patient. And, to be honest, they’d rather be sending messages anyway, with more than 95 percent of patients prefer texting for healthcare communication. The problem is that many small and mid-size provider organizations are missing both texts and calls.

This affects a practice’s revenue, reputation and patient retention. Dissatisfied patients often tell their friends and family about bad experiences. Some even share negative opinions on online review sites that can effectively live online forever. 

Even when patient calls are answered quickly, they’re often put on hold. Unfortunately, if callers are put on hold for more than 30 seconds, more than one-third will hang up and not call back. Longer telephone wait times are also associated with decreases in patients’ perceived ability to access urgent care appointments promptly. 

And it’s not just the patients who suffer. Inefficient patient communications mean your team members spend time dealing with demotivating patient complaints. The overall result is a more chaotic and less functional office.

Technology to the Rescue?

Using technology to streamline physician practice operations isn’t anything new. Many medical groups utilize electronic health record (EHR) systems, telehealth platforms, and other solutions to improve access to care and enhance clinical decision-making.

One increasingly popular option is a HIPAA-compliant, cloud-based telecommunication system. A Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) system saves costs and offers the flexibility and mobility many medical groups demand.

For what factors, though, should a healthcare provider look to ensure the phone system they select will untangle chaotic patient communications? The top answers are uptime, functionality, and design. 

1. Uptime

Disasters happen. Although there’s often nothing that can be done about that, there are steps that can be taken to prepare for such situations. With the right planning, you can ensure your practice doesn’t miss important calls from patients.

It’s important to choose a geographically redundant phone system. Why? Because it ensures consistent uptime, even in the event of a regional catastrophe. A reliable solution is designed as a shared-nothing architecture with mature and cloud-centric automated disaster recovery.

It’s not only natural disasters that cause outages — human error and malice are the single largest causes of system outages and downtimes. Approximately 95 percent of businesses experience unexpected server downtime, with the average outage lasting 117 minutes. The average downtime for healthcare entities costs $7,900 per minute — not including revenue loss and hefty fines for HIPAA noncompliance.

The cloud is the focus again in these instances. Along with unlimited backup space, reduced storage and operating costs, improved scalability, and remote file sharing, it’s the best option for preventing downtime and subsequent data loss. 

2. Functionality

A wide array of flashy features isn’t helpful to healthcare providers if they don’t fulfill the function they were designed for. The same is true for phone systems, web portals and mobile apps.

The best telecommunications systems are built to function the same way — at all times. They allow for cross-site integration and collaboration and are designed to be fully configured around the needs of each extension. An example is functional keys that give staff the shortcuts they need to make work easier and more efficient. Whatever the function, it shouldn’t be affected when the system is scaled up or down.

Another point to consider in telecommunications systems is customization. Physician practices should avoid investing in a solution that can’t be tailored to fit their specific business needs. 

3. Design

Full functionality shouldn’t result in a phone system that’s difficult to use. Telecommunications platforms should utilize UX (user experience) design, allowing easy-to-make changes and making what’s supposed to happen visually clear.

Medical groups, big and small, should select a phone system designed by a team of healthcare leaders on the front lines of communications service for therapists, doctors, and other healthcare providers. The design also should ensure compliance with HIPAA and other strict security rules and regulations. 

The Reliable RingRx Telecommunications Platform

RingRx was designed as a distributed and redundant next-generation communications platform with patient data security and healthcare workflows in mind and is the world’s first business-class, cloud-hosted communications platform designed specifically for the needs of modern healthcare providers.

We give our clients the most transparency into features and settings, along with the most control of the functionality of the system we customize for them. Our platform is both highly stable and available, meaning they can use it anywhere at any time. Plus, we’ve built a robust REST API designed for the type of interoperability required for integrations of EHRs, practice management software, revenue cycle management applications, reputation management solutions, and patient portals.

Check out our pricing plans built for healthcare provider groups of all sizes.