How to Handle Emergency Patient Calls During COVID-19

Even with people confined to their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic, urgent health concerns will inevitably come up. With limited access to public spaces, the phone is essential to receiving the help patients need. As it stands today, if a patient has a medical emergency, do they know where they can go or how they can reach you to receive care? It is crucial that these patients, YOUR patients, are pointed in the right direction.

With most practices temporarily closing for all routine and elective care, here are 3 ways your practice can continue to be accessible to your patients who reach out with emergencies:

  1. Route calls to an open location.

    If you have multiple locations and have made the decision to keep a limited number of offices open, reroute calls from your closed locations to an open one. In doing so, you ensure callers reach a qualified staff member to receive the appropriate treatment.

    To make this change, go into your Call Box accounts for your closed locations, click on Tracking Lines in your green configuration pods, and choose the tracking lines you want to reroute to open locations. Once you click on a tracking line, choose “Direct Ring To” under the Routing dropdown and enter the main phone number of the open location under “Direct Ring To Number.” In addition, you can choose to add a whisper on the line, such as “Uptown office,” so staff is made aware when picking up the phone that it's a patient who was trying to reach that location.

    If you would like help implementing this location-based routing change, contact Call Box's Support Team at 214-446-7867.

  2. Route calls to a cell phone(s).

    While your offices are closed and patients continue to call, consider setting up a bridge or phone menu that offers patients a number of options to choose from. For example, a voice recording can direct callers to press 1 if they are experiencing an emergency and need to speak with a member of your medical team, or press 2 if they would like to leave a message to be returned within a designated timeframe or when you reopen.

    Option 1 will route calls directly to the cell phones of doctors and/or medical staff. Option 2 will route calls to a voicemail. If you have multiple individuals you'd like to receive these emergency calls, Call Box can set up calls to ring to one number first, and if the line is busy or he/she cannot answer, the call can fall back to another cell phone number.

    As these emergency calls get routed, it is often a good idea to put whispers in place so the doctors or medical staff recognize that this is a patient calling for an emergency instead of a personal call.

    Call Box's Support Team can quickly implement custom phone menus and routing for you by calling 214-446-7867.

  3. Direct callers to call 911.

    If you're unable to treat patients during this time, direct your callers experiencing true emergencies to call 911 through a recorded greeting. A message could sound something like this:

    “Thank you for calling ABC Health. Our offices are closed until Tuesday, April 24th due to the Coronavirus. If you have an appointment scheduled between now and April 24th, your appointment has automatically been canceled. We will begin rescheduling patients when we reopen our offices. Should we be closed longer than anticipated, we will update this message. If this is truly an emergency, we advise you to visit the nearest emergency room for treatment or call 911. If you leave a voicemail, please know that phone calls will be returned once we are open. We appreciate your trust in us for your medical needs and look forward to treating you in the future. Stay well.”

    Call Box's Support Team can add custom greetings and messages to your phone lines by calling 214-446-7867.

  4. Patients will continue to experience medical concerns throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Ensure your practice will be ready and able to help when patients reach out. If you have questions or would like help in implementing any of the above tools, contact Call Box's Support Team at 214-446-7867 or email content@callbox.com.