The Advantages of Interactive Voice Response (IVR) for Healthcare

By Mac McCarver

One of the best ways to stand out in the healthcare industry is to provide a level of customer service that counters the stereotype of clinics and healthcare facilities: places to wait. And the way the office phone system is used is a crucial element of improving customer service. 

Patients trying to check in or approaching the receptionist have to wait as the phone is answered, and patients calling have to wait as other calls are answered and in-office patients are assisted. Fortunately, this bottleneck can be alleviated with Unified Communications (UC). 

What is an IVR?

A UC office phone system makes it easy to implement Interactive Voice Response (IVR) technology. IVRs automate the process of answering phones and routing calls to the appropriate extension. But they are capable of so much more than the robotic auto attendants of yesteryear. 

Here are the advantages of utilizing IVR technology in healthcare:

Automate Call Answering and Routing

With an IVR, your receptionist (or receptionists) no longer have to stop their other responsibilities every time a call comes in to the office. The caller will be greeted by a professionally scripted voice to assist them, asking questions to learn their reason for calling and direct them to the right extension. Some IVRs are so well designed that callers think they’re talking to a real person!

Easily Provide Information 

IVRs can provide customers information and guidance without ever taking time away from medical or administrative staff. Office hours, appointment times, even information about the latest illness going around, all can easily be dispensed to callers automatically. Not only does this provide a service to the patient who doesn’t have to wait for a person, but it also reduces the number of tedious phone calls that staff have to answer. 

Accept Payments Over the Phone Securely

Another key advantage of IVRs is their ability to integrate with billing systems and patient management software. Not only does this allow patients to check appointment times and account balances over the phone, it provides patients with the option to pay their bill over the phone without the unnerving feeling of reading bank account or credit card information to a live person. Patients can know that their financial information stays private and secure while enjoying the convenience of calling in a payment.

Provide 24/7 Access for Emergencies

Unified Communications gives healthcare facilities both IVR functionality and mobile softphones. With these tools, offices can provide 24/7 emergency access to doctors without needing an after hours operator to screen calls. The IVR can be designed to screen after hours emergency calls then route them to the on-call doctor or nurse practitioner’s extension, accessible from any location with a softphone application. This allows patients access to their own doctor in emergencies without requiring extra staff or infrastructure.

Maximize Productivity and Return on Investment

Because an IVR handles much of the routine telephone work that typically takes up a considerable amount of time, staff are able to complete other tasks more quickly and efficiently. This means staff can get their work done without needing to work overtime. Employees don’t feel overwhelmed, boosting workplace satisfaction, while reducing expenses and boosting your practice’s return on investment.

How to Use an IVR

IVRs are an incredible tool in the modern healthcare facility’s arsenal of customer service enhancements, but it’s important to understand how they work and best practices for their use. That’s because a poorly setup IVR can be frustrating to use.

Fortunately, it’s not difficult to ensure the best possible IVR experience for staff and patients.

Click here for a free guide on how to setup and use an IVR, along with best practices and why an IVR is important to any business.

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About the Author

Mac McCarver

Mac McCarver is the Content Creation Manager at Digium. His chief responsibility in this role is the creation of engaging content for distribution on all of Digium’s platforms. He graduated with honors from the University of North Alabama with a BA in English Literature. For his efforts, he was selected for membership in Sigma Tau Delta, the international honor society for distinguished achievement in English language, literature, and writing.

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