Medical Answering Services: After Hours Voicemail Menu Script
Do your patients tend to rush through phone prompts by selecting “urgent” for non-urgent matters, such as prescription refills?
When you plan what to say ahead of time for your medical answering service, you can easily route patients appropriately for any given situation—based on their needs and who’s on call that day.
Do These Situations Resonate?
What are After-Hours Medical Answering Services?
Also referred to as ‘after hours,’ medical answering services accept or handle patient calls outside of normal office hours, such as overnight or during the weekend. However, modern solutions can also be used during work hours when, for example, staff are busy and cannot come to the phone. With these solutions, establishing an accurate menu prompt that is easy to understand improves the patient experience for inbound patient and hospital calls, especially when your team isn’t immediately available.
Using HIPAA-compliant voicemail services versus general voicemail services is a best practice for healthcare organizations. In general, there are two kinds of medical answering services in the marketplace: live agents and voicemail greetings.
With this setup, an inbound call comes through to the medical office, and it’s routed to a call center with live agents. Typically, these agents are not medically trained to handle complex patient requests. On occasion, it’s possible that an agent without extensive medical training may not fully understand the patient’s needs, and a non-urgent call could get routed as an urgent call. They might even end up giving out the clinician’s personal contact information, even if they’re not on duty.
Another issue might be agents using an unprofessional tone. This creates a negative impression for the patient, perhaps leading them to rush to the Emergency Department or make other drastic choices. In some instances, the patient may even decide not to come back to your organization for future care needs.
Medically trained live agents are better equipped to handle inbound calls, but many of these answering services have variable costs that fluctuate based on number of calls and minutes logged. In this case, it’s also not guaranteed that agents will always be professional and empathetic. With medical staffing shortages nationwide, finding reputable live agents can be expensive with variable answering service levels and costs.
On a positive note, there are hybrid live agent options, where non-medically trained agents take simple notes, transcribe the data, and send the message via text to the medical office or doctor on call. With this setup, the trained medical professionals can decide next steps and whether to call back immediately or during regular office hours.
Voicemail Menu Routing
With medical answering services like PerfectServe, guided prompts and other built-in workflows are used in concert with physician schedules to route calls accurately. Prompts can be given to clearly explain next steps to the caller. For example: “If this an emergency, hang up and dial 911.” Other common call prompts might include: “Press one if this is an urgent, non-life threatening manner. Press two for prescription refills. Press three to leave a message for Dr. Cervantes’ office.”
When you build an effective communication process for your medical practice, it saves time for both the physician and the patient. An optimized patient answering service educates patients on next steps and provides peace of mind that their message reached the right destination. If routed correctly, critical alerts and updates can be sent to the patient’s primary care physician or medical office specialist.
After-Hours Voicemail Templates for Medical Offices
We put together two examples of menu scripts that might work for your medical practice.
Basic Call-Flow Automation
Here is one standard voicemail template.
Note: These options are customizable. Especially for “Press 3,” you can change it to say “prescription refill requests are not handled by our office. Please contact your pharmacy for routine prescription refills.”
Don’t have time to set this up yourself?
To have someone else build out a call flow for you, and to take full advantage of accurate routing based on physician schedules, book a discovery call with a PerfectServe specialist.
Customizable Voicemail Greeting Template
This is a text-style version you may use for your medical practice.
Step 1 – Thank you for calling [name of medical group office]. Our office hours are [time/day]. If this is a medical emergency, please hang up and dial 911. Otherwise, please stay on the line for further options.
Step 2 – If you are calling about a prescription refill, press one. If you would like [name of doctor/medical group office] to call you back regarding an urgent request, press two. For all other requests, press three.
Press 1 Selection: For prescription refills, please contact your pharmacy. If you have unique questions about your medication or it needs to be called in by [doctor/practitioner’s name], please leave your name, date of birth, and best callback number. Thank you.
Press 2 Selection: Please leave your full name, date of birth, and a callback number, along with a brief message of the issue you are experiencing. We will return your call as soon as possible. Thank you.
Press 3 Selection: If you are a physician or hospital, press one. Otherwise, please leave your name, number, and a brief message, and we will get back to you during regular office hours. Thank you.
Press 1 Sub Selection: Please leave your name, hospital name, reason for the call, and we will return your message as soon as possible. Thank you.
The good news is these templates may be customized and crafted to meet your unique practice needs.* So whether your specialty is nephrology, obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics, hematology, surgery, psychiatry, orthopedics, or others, giving your patients and other physicians a map to follow reduces confusion and alleviates administrative burdens. Your office staff can then decide how to respond during and after hours.
*Note: With medical voicemail scripts or text messages, it’s important to stay HIPAA compliant and train your office staff with best practices. Implementing easy guidelines and policies for how you want to leave voicemails can help your practice avoid costly HIPAA violations.1
Download These Free Voicemail Templates
An Urgent Message Doesn’t Have to be a Close Call
When a call comes in to your medical office, is the right provider alerted? What if it’s 9 PM on a Friday, and the patient needs to know whether or not they should go to the Emergency Department?
Planning ahead for these contingencies will save your medical office hours of time, and it ensures patient care is handled quickly and accurately.
Not a Traditional Medical Answering Service
With PerfectServe’s Dynamic Intelligent Routing®, you can set up call flows to accurately route to the best available practitioner on call. With a combination of voicemail and voice-to-text options, urgent patient requests don’t have to wait until Monday to hear from the on-call physician. PerfectServe syncs in real time with physician schedule changes so your patients and staff know who to contact and when.
Need a better voicemail option for your medical office? Book a discovery call to see how we can customize it for your needs.
1(2021, October 15). Head Off Costly HIPAA Violations for Patient Voicemail Errors. Healthcare Training Leader® Blog. https://healthcare.trainingleader.com/2021/10/hipaa-compliant-voicemails/