Tuesday, April 22, 2014

In patient care, automated interactive voice response, also known as “IVR,” is probably most commonly known as a convenient method of making medical appointment reminder phone calls. Certainly, using IVR for simple reminders is helpful in cutting down on the number of “no shows.” However, IVR can be used in many other truly meaningful ways in the medical industry. For instance, it is not only an effective way of reaching patients to remind them of upcoming medical procedures or surgeries; it is also a consistent, reliable means of ensuring that patients come to those appointments properly prepared.

Furthermore, interactive voice response saves money and frees the time of nurses and administrative staff so that they can spend less time on the phone and more time caring for patients. Concentrating their efforts on more meaningful tasks improves overall patient care, after all, and also increases office efficiency.

IVR Saves Valuable Resources, Including Time and Money

Nurses are highly qualified medical staff, which means their time is best spent on patient care, not on routine phone calls. Plus, with busy medical offices dealing with so much information and so many patient records and bills that constantly need to be tracked and filed, administrative tasks are already dense enough. It makes little sense to pay office staff to also spend hour after hour answering or making phone calls, when interactive voice response can complete these calls automatically, after just a few minutes of setup time.

Automatic phone calls with IVR can be sent with prerecorded instructions and information regarding patients’ upcoming appointments and procedures. With just the touch of a button, patients may respond to the automated messages by rescheduling an appointment as necessary or transferring to the office to ask follow-up questions. Phone numbers and call times are easily programmed in so that IVR does the work. Alternatively, inbound calls ban be properly routed using an IVR phone tree, saving time for office staff and potentially even bypassing the need for live agents with prerecorded answers to frequently asked questions.

Interactive Voice Response Messages are Just as Effective as Live Calls

But doesn't getting a call from a live person lead to better results than IVR could possibly bring about? Not according to a recent study by the American Journal of Managed Care. In the study, calls by nurses, as well as automated interactive voice response calls, were both used in order to remind patients of upcoming endoscopy examination appointments. During the calls, proper preparation procedures prior to the visits were also discussed. The results were then compared.

Regardless of the method of contact, when calls included not only appointment reminders but also information about procedure preparation, as well as encouragement for proper preparation, all calls were found to be equally effective. Patients who were called by way of IVR were just as likely to come to their appointments and just as likely to be properly prepared for their procedures. And because the calls were pre-recorded, medical professionals could rest assured that the information the patients received was thorough every time.

Face it: the most important people in the medical field are the patients. Every task should be taken on with the aim of improving patient care and ensuring positive outcomes for those who are being served. When it comes to getting patients through the door, ready to receive appropriate care, results are all that matter. Being able to dedicate valuable resources like time, money, and expertise to areas where they are most needed will help ensure that every patient's care is the very best it can be. Interactive voice makes that happen.