Medical Answering Service

Updated April 30, 2017

Centratel is, statistically, the highest quality medical answering service in the United States. Our most recent Customer Reported Error Rate (January through March, 2018) was one customer-reported error for every 12,297 message transactions processed.

Primary care medical answering service: Call processing must be handled quickly, accurately and with sensitivity to the caller, as well as to the on-call physician. Medical answering service is our original primary service product.

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Centratel’s medical answering service covers after-hours primary coverage and daytime telephone answering service backup for the entire spectrum of medical practices including, but certainly not limited to Internal Medicine, OBGYN, Pediatrics, Ophthalmology, Urology and Orthopedics. We handle clinics with dozens of physicians as well as offices with just one doctor.

We are the face of your medical clinic when you’re not there. Your non-emergency calls must be handled quickly, professionally and in a friendly way. Typically these messages are delivered to your clinic via Email or fax, at set times during the day. They also can be delivered as-taken, real-time. On-line, messages can be retrieved online from any location. Of course, the critical element is emergency medical relay: We can quickly reach your on-call staff/physicians with the protocol options you prefer.

All calls are digitally recorded, providing a solid record of any conversation between our telephone service representative (TSR) and your caller. This is a crucial element in protecting your doctors from liability as experience shows that well over 90% of caller complaints are due to misunderstandings or outright errors on the caller’s part.

Fully HIPAA Compliant Medical Answering Service: Centratel provides several HIPAA compliant message delivery systems including 100% encrypted secure messaging, allowing us to send messages between devices in a format that is not readable by anyone but the intended recipient thus assuring not only compliance with Privacy Rules & Regulations, but providing the peace of mind that comes from knowing confidential information will remain confidential.

There is an almost endless array of message delivery and message retrieval options for the physician including retrieving messages anytime/anywhere with our free online message pick-up service. The Medical Exchange doctors’ hot-line is for physicians only. This is a unique offering for a medical telephone answering service: When a call comes to the operations department on this line, TSR’s know it’s a physician and they take special action, giving the calling physician #1 priority over other incoming calls.

Have you come to this website because your current answering service is not performing? If so, you are not alone. Nearly 100% of our medical telephone answering service accounts have come to us because they were dissatisfied with their former provider. Our special niche is very simple: to provide the highest quality medical answering service in the United States. Again, note: Our most recent Customer Reported Error Rate (January through March, 2018) was one customer-reported error for every 12,297 message transactions processed. For a comprehensive overview of how Centratel is able to maintain such a high level of quality, see company president and majority owner Sam Carpenter’s letter, “Why Centratel.”

(Note: This web site is different from other answering service sites. Our prime objective is to provide you information, not to simply “sell” you. Of course we want to provide you service, but our first aim is to inform. Within this site you will find nearly 200,000 words of answering service-related content accessible via our search feature. The information is constantly updated and is as objective as it can be, considering we are a for-profit business. For information about the answering service industry itself, go here.)

The protocols used at Centratel have been honed over a three decade history. TSR’s have processed literally tens of millions of medical answering service calls. Providing unmatched levels of professionalism, accuracy and value, we’re poles apart from the traditional telephone answering service.

Compensation for our Telephone Service Representative (TSR) and customer service personnel is keyed directly to their own personal performance. Wages are significantly higher than industry averages. Every one of our staff members is a full-time, career professional; We don’t employ part-time staff as is common with most medical answering services. A sizable percentage of our staff, including TSRs and administrative team members, are single women with children. Our compensation benchmark is our policy of paying enough for these single parents to support their families and “have a life.” Full-time career people who are well compensated, based on their own personal performance, are people who are very serious about what they do. In a medical answering service, a critical element in offering the highest service quality is in maintaining low staff turnover. Many Centratel TSRs have tenures of fifteen years and up to twenty-seven years. They really know their jobs and they work very, very hard to get it right. 

We are the face of your clinic when you’re not there. Your non-emergency calls must also be handled quickly, professionally and in a friendly way. Every call counts!

Hard-copy backups of all transactions. For routine non-urgent messages, there are a variety of delivery options available including voice mail, fax and Email. If you use our daytime service, messages can be delivered one at a time as they are taken, and/or in batches. All elements of every after-hours on-call contact are delivered to your office each morning. We can provide full archiving of answered messages for a period of three years.

We have a zero-tolerance policy regarding substance abuse: drug testing is part of the interview process, and frequent random testing occurs with all answering service and administrative staff.

Absolutely dependable, it’s the job of the Centratel TSR to exactly follow well thought-out, black-and-white relay instructions in order to find a balance between needlessly disturbing your on-call physician and efficiently connecting him or her to patients who truly need immediate assistance. Once the unique relay protocol has been established for the new medical answering service account, it is followed tenaciously by TSRs unless they have been given real-time instructions otherwise. With feedback and guidance from literally thousands of doctors, we’ve perfected medical answering service 1-2-3 step relay procedures to provide near zero-defect call screening/dispatch processes.

Our TSRs use the absolute latest and most dependable call processing equipment available. Ours is a complex business: All primary systems are redundant and backup systems are readily available. Centratel’s several IT engineers are available 24/7/365 in the remote chance of a systems malfunction. Mechanical support includes robust UPS/battery backup with heavy duty generators and redundant servers. Located in the Pacific Northwest, the most stable environmental location in the lower 48 states, we are not susceptible to hurricanes, tornadoes, floods or earthquakes.

At Centratel your office personnel have a direct connection to a specific Customer Service Representative. Our customer service department is organized so you will have one person assigned to your medical answering service account who handles all client issues directly with our answering service manager. Your Customer Service Representative (CSR) will know your people personally and understand your account intimately. Indirectly becoming a part of your clinic’s staff, your CSR is friendly, professional and dependable. After-hours, and in the absence of your assigned CSR, a skilled on-site Operations Supervisor will be immediately available to answer questions or handle unusual situations.

Yes, we sometimes cost a bit more than the average medical answering service (but not always!). Centratel’s rates are reasonable and as an additional, dramatic cost-cutter, approximately 95% of medical offices use our “Gold Service” option, an automated greeting/information feature that intercepts the patient’s call for initial screening and provides general information. Office hours, directions to the clinic and the ability to leave a message are all contained within the automated greeting. Patients appreciate the Gold Service system as they are on and off the line quickly after retrieving the information they need, or after leaving a message for your office. By pressing zero on their dial pad, or by simply staying on the line, callers who must speak with the on-call physician are quickly routed to a Centratel TSR. Of course, we also handle clinics that do not use this screening protocol. For these accounts, each caller speaks immediately with our TSR.

To apply for service, go to our Price Quote page.