Call center
Call me maybe?
by Sam Carpenter

Your staff can’t be with every patient at the same time. But clients don’t want to deal with voicemail or automated systems. For managers of homecare agencies, answering the phone can be a problem.

One solution is to hire a professional answering service. Start by asking what your patients and their families want; a few examples are below.

  • Personal attention: When your clients and their family are stressed, no matter the time of day, they want to speak to a real person.
  • Understanding: Your clients want to talk to someone who grasps the emotions they are experiencing. You’ll need an answering service that has extensive experience working with medical situations and is sensitive to patient care needs.
  • Quick, accurate response: It’s important for your clients to know their information has been accurately noted and acted upon. Your answering service representatives must be an extension of you and your office.
  • Reliability: Your clients want to feel their concerns are being addressed every time they call. Whether your staff is helping patients, handling new inquiries or meeting with family, calls cannot be missed. And emergency calls must be delivered immediately.

Now that you have identified what your patients and families expect, let’s turn to how an elite quality answering service can help agencies achieve these results.

1. After-Hours Call Coverage

An answering service provides front office backup when staff is limited. This includes screening for emergency calls and quickly connecting them with staff. Competent and compassionate telephone service representatives (TSRs) become invaluable assets to your operation. For instance, when a caller has a late-night emergency, the answering service can dispatch the message to your on-call nurse or connect the caller directly, guaranteeing that clients are never left helpless and that your staff is fully informed of the immediate need.

2. A Solution for Staff Shortages

Staffing shortages cause morale to plummet while quality of care declines. In lieu of hiring additional staff, turn to an answering service that can accept calls 24 hours a day. It offers flexibility because an answering service can take incoming calls as often—or as little—as you need.

3. Daytime Overflow Assistance

An answering service can also assist with daytime overflow calls. The instant flexibility of an answering service is crucial to ensuring calls are handled properly and that your staff remains informed in real time while your quality of care remains superior.

4. Handle Non-Urgent & Urgent Calls

Experienced TSRs can quickly differentiate between urgent and non-urgent calls, immediately transferring the caller to your on-call staff. Emergency message-relay protocols are executed according to your guidelines. Non-urgent messages are dispatched using delayed-delivery methods. No more fielding non-urgent calls at 1 a.m.

5. Additional Tasks & Services

A high-quality answering services can skillfully handle inconvenient yet necessary duties that might otherwise impinge upon your staff’s primary focus. A good answering service can take caregiver call-outs and quickly inform your administrative staff. Also, the TSR can pass along requests for specialty appointments, contact account managers in the field about new inquiries, answer the public’s questions and filter unwanted calls from telemarketers.

Answering services that specialize in the home health care industry employ agents who are trained and certified in Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) compliance measures, protecting patient health and confidentiality.

It really is a simple thing: a homecare business is a 24/7 operation that has to be available to take and process incoming calls—and those calls must always be handled by people who are courteous, professional and confident.

For a complimentary hardcover copy of the author's book, “Work the System: The Simple Mechanics of Making More and Working Less,” email your mailing address to, and reference “HomeCare.” Postage paid within the U.S., one book per person. Limited to first 100 requests. Offer ends March 1, 2022.

Sam Carpenter is the owner and president of Centratel Answering Service, which processes after-hours calls for home health care and hospice operations throughout the United States. Contact him at or visit