What’s the best way to guarantee patient success during an outsourcing transition? Use these 3 steps to help keep your patients happy.
7 Questions to Ask Before Outsourcing Your Outpatient Scheduling
Looking to outsource your outpatient scheduling process? Before committing, ensure you have the answers to these seven key questions.
Outsourcing can be a great way to save time and resources. However, it would be best to consider some critical factors before choosing this option for your Healthcare Center.
Let's explore seven of the most important questions to ask before outsourcing your outpatient scheduling and the implications of each to help you make the best decision.
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Questions to ask before outsourcing your scheduling process
When managing the scheduling process, outsourcing can offer numerous benefits, including time savings and increased focus on core business activities. However, before deciding on a specific provider, it's crucial to ask the right questions to ensure that the transition aligns with your business goals and needs:
1) What are your specific goals?
When it comes to outsourcing your outpatient scheduling, you need to take a step back and ask yourself what your specific goals are, plus questions like:
- What kind of patient experience do you want to provide?
As a radiology center, providing a positive patient experience is paramount to ensuring return customers and referrals. When outsourcing your outpatient scheduling, you should consider the following:
Accurate & Consistent Scheduling – Look for a partner who can accurately and consistently schedule according to specific criteria to ensure accuracy and avoid double bookings or missed appointments.
Secure Data Transfer – When working with a third-party vendor, ensure they have secure systems for transferring sensitive patient data, as HIPAA regulations require.
Robust System Capabilities – Look for a system with robust capabilities to handle multiple locations, insurance companies, and provider availability.
- What kind of cost savings do I want to realize?
Outsourcing your radiology center’s outpatient scheduling can help you realize cost savings in many ways. You’ll just need to determine if these are the ones you need.
For example, outsourcing eliminates the need for additional staffing to manage the scheduling process; this helps you free up valuable resources that can be used elsewhere.
Additionally, by utilizing an outside vendor, your organization won’t need to invest in the software or hardware required to manage the scheduling process. Furthermore, you will be able to benefit from the expertise and experience of the outsourcing partner to provide best practices and insights.
- How much time can I commit to the process?
Onboarding with a new partner will help you save time in the long run, but in the beginning, you will still have to dedicate time to the process.
When considering how much time you can commit to outsourcing your radiology center's outpatient scheduling, there are several factors to consider. First, how many staff members do you have, and how many hours can they allot to this? If you have a smaller staff and limited time, outsourcing your scheduling may not be the best option.
Second, what type of scheduling system do you use? If you use an automated system, then the time commitment may be minimal since most systems are designed to be self-sufficient and require minimal oversight. On the other hand, if you're using a manual system, it will take more time to implement an outside partner.
Finally, how much patient flow do you experience? If your radiology center has many patients, outsourcing your scheduling may be more beneficial because it can help streamline operations and increase efficiency.
2) Are they HIPAA Compliant?
When considering outsourcing your outpatient scheduling, it’s essential to ensure the provider is HIPAA compliant. HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) is a set of regulations that protect the privacy and security of healthcare data and patient information.
A HIPAA-compliant provider will have measures to protect the data they handle. This includes, but is not limited to, data encryption, implementing access controls, and regular security audits.
This provider should also provide detailed training for all staff members on handling patient information appropriately and securely. Additionally, they should have a clear and comprehensive breach response plan in place so that any breaches can be addressed quickly and thoroughly.
Finding out if a provider is HIPAA compliant is as easy as asking them for proof of compliance or a copy of their certification documents. It is essential to ask the right questions about their processes and protocols for handling patient data and ensuring privacy, as this could save you from any potential issues with HIPAA violations in the future.
3) What is the average call center answer rate?
When outsourcing your outpatient scheduling, it is crucial to determine what the answer rate is for the scheduling agency you are looking to hire. This can be done by asking for a report that outlines the average handling time (AHT) for each agent.
A good answer rate would be in the 90-95% range. This ensures that all calls are answered promptly and that patients do not have to wait long on hold or spend too much time on the phone before speaking with an agent.
4) How many agents do they have?
When outsourcing your outpatient scheduling, the number of agents will have a direct impact on how quickly and efficiently your requests are processed.
With more agents on board, the quicker your patients can be scheduled and the better the customer service experience for you and your patients. You should also find out what kind of customer service system the company uses to ensure that all requests are handled quickly and accurately.
Additionally, make sure to ask about the training process for their agents so that they can stay up-to-date with the latest changes in outpatient scheduling and outsourcing.
5) What is your patient volume?
The size of your patient population can help you determine the right software or service to use, as well as how many agents and resources you will need to accommodate your expected appointment volume.
For example, if you have a larger patient population, you may need to opt for an automated scheduling system that can handle more patients simultaneously. If you have a smaller patient population, then manual scheduling may be the better option.
6) How do you handle your current processes?
Have you considered the steps necessary to outsource your outpatient scheduling processes successfully? What methods need to be implemented to ensure a seamless transition? Can your outsourcing partner meet all your scheduling needs?
For example, consider whether you need a complete medical office management system to handle appointment bookings or if you would benefit from outsourcing specific tasks such as reminders or billing.
Understanding your needs and limitations will help you decide which tasks can best be handled in-house and which would be more efficiently handled by an outsourcing partner. Additionally, evaluate how patient data is currently collected and processed and consider how this might change with the introduction of a new outsourced provider.
Create detailed documentation outlining your existing processes before approaching potential vendors. This will provide you with a framework for evaluating the efficiency of their proposed solutions and provide a means of comparing different vendors to make the best choice.
Take into account the time, effort, and resources that you currently use in managing your outpatient scheduling processes to ensure that any outsourced provider can offer you a solution that meets both your needs and budget.
7) What is the best time frame for you?
The best time frame to consider when outsourcing your outpatient scheduling depends on the size of your practice and the number of patient visits you have. It’s important to plan out a timeline that will work for you and the provider you’re considering. This includes setting goals, understanding your patient volume, and how you handle current processes. Consider what you need for your practice to be successful in terms of scheduling, follow-ups, and other needs. If possible, try to get a clear idea of what services you need from the provider and when you’ll need them.
Asking the right questions is essential to finding the right partner. Consider all the critical questions detailed in this blog post when researching potential partners.
With careful planning and research, you can find an outsourcing partner that is perfect for your outpatient scheduling needs.