• Best of E-Talk: Patient Phone Calls


    Question: How do practices manage the high volume of patient calls to an office, including requests for prescription refills? Are extra staff members necessary?

    Answer: Many practices choose to have one or two employees dedicated to triage — handling phone calls, patient emergencies, refill requests, etc. Other offices, however, have had success relegating these duties to existing techs, who are also cross-trained in a triage capacity.

    For example, one such practice has five MDs and two ODs spread across three locations. The offices have a call center, and any non-urgent calls are put into the electronic health record system as messages to be answered within 24 hours.

    Each doctor also has a “go-to tech.” These techs drop out of the schedule when the last patient has checked in, to review and respond to their respective doctor’s messages. This way, the person taking a patient’s call for, say, refill requests will know the specifics about what each doctor prefers.