4.8. Overflow call handling
This service activates when a patient can’t get through to the practice and it is particularly useful during busy periods. It diverts calls to an answering service or call centre where call handlers identify which practice the call is coming from and handle it appropriately.
- Incoming calls are always answered.
- Messages can be taken and forwarded to a nominated individual at the practice.
- Messages can be relayed verbally, via email or SMS. This enables the practice to take immediate action.
- Call handlers could be given access to the practice appointment system and book the patient in themselves. However, this would require strict guidelines and may undermine the role of the receptionist.
- Monthly service charges based on price per call could be expensive.
- Patients who are sensitive about privacy may prefer to speak with someone at the practice.
- It is unknown whether call handling is being used by practices so many risks and issues cannot be identified.
Monthly service charges can be around £25, with each call handled costing around 85p. There may be additional costs for diverting calls.