Real Time Reception News

Clinic Telephone Call Handling

Telephone call handler

Our team can confidently book your clinic appointments

Clinic Telephone Call handling is a bit specialised. The caller might be anxious and may be in pain and irritable. The call handler needs to be able to put them at ease and give them the information they need to make a booking decision.

There are 3 parts to making a good booking

Information from the clinic. We ask our new clients to complete a form with all the information about the clinic on it, including prices and treatments and who is working there and when. It is important that we are made aware when these details change.

A call handler who has access to all that information and enough knowledge to understand it and guide the caller to the right booking.

The caller or patient knowing what they want, when they want it and what they will pay.

We spend at least 3 months training our team members to be able to confidently book the appointments our clients need. They need to be able to use the variety of different diary software and the information our practitioners supply.

In most cases the patient knows who they want to see, or at least which professional. Depending on the professions available at the clinic we can direct the customer towards the most suitable practitioner, using the information we hold about the clinic and the symptoms the patient tells us. The receptionist isn’t a clinician so they can’t make a diagnosis or give any advice.

In any case as a practitioner you will know that sometimes a patient thinks they have one problem when they actually have something quite different. So a new patient assessment appointment to cover all eventualities is useful, and if we are really not sure we can send you a message to call the patient as a last resort.

We are very proud of the team we have here, they work hard to ensure the best outcome for the patient and the client. We service lots of clinics in the UK providing a full-time receptionist at a fraction of the cost.

Automated Receptionist or Virtual Receptionist?

Automated phone answering service.

Back in the day when I was looking for a receptionist to answer my phone and manage Appointment scheduling there was no virtual office or Call handling available in the UK.

There is now a plethora of providers of Answering services, and choosing one is the difficulty.

I’m often asked about Automated Call Handling or Automated Receptionist Systems  – beware, these are not the same as a virtual receptionist.

An Automatic phone answering system (sometimes called interactive voice response or IVR) uses preset numbers to direct calls to where they need to go.


So the caller might hear “press 1 for accounts, press 2 for sales”etc… This is useful if you have a lot of different people to direct the calls to, (or if you want make it seem as if you have a lot of employees). Importantly though, there is no human being involved other than the caller.

Virtual Receptionists on the other hand are Actual Real People.


A better term might be remote receptionists, ie they are not located in your office or surgery. They may take a message for you and email it on to you, or they may like us, do a more complex job, e.g. Diary management, collecting information or payments.

You could have both- An IVR which directs calls to a virtual receptionist as one of the options!

But the real plus of a remote or virtual receptionist is that it reduces overheads. You are effectively sharing the receptionist with other companies and this means that you have:

a full time receptionist at a fraction of the cost.

Choosing the best appointment booking software

Choosing appoinment booking software

Choosing appointment booking software

Choosing the best appointment booking software for your practice is confusing. There are so many things to think about and so much choice!

Electronic diary management uses appointment booking software which we – the virtual receptionists- and you -the practitioners- can both see in real time. This avoids the risk of double booking – we are all looking at the same page.

Our clients use a range of appointment booking software so we see a variety of them. We don’t recommend any brand in particular but here are some ideas to get you started. The first thing to remember is that once you have started using one it’s difficult to change, and the choice is huge so it is worth asking other people in your profession what they use and then giving them a try.

Here are some headers to think about:

Virtual receptionist appointment scheduling

This is obviously most important from our point of view.

We need to be able to view the back end of the diary, which can be a problem with some diaries designed to go on a website. If some-one phones to check when their appointment is we need to be able to find it by putting their name in, not by scrolling through pages of diary.

We have to have several receptionists logged into the diary concurrently. When there are 2 callers ringing your clinic at the same time a second receptionist must be able to access your diary without knocking the first one off. We like to stay logged in all day as logging in each time we get a call for you is time consuming.

In an ideal situation a booking would entail this sequence:

  1. Find the patient in contacts, or create new
  2. Find an appointment
  3. Book it.

Take advantage of free trial of the diary and try this sequence before you commit, to ensure it suits you.


Most diaries run on a monthly charge and the providers will be maintaining and hosting the software for you. Is it affordable long term? If you get other practitioners in the clinic how much will it cost for them to use the software? What is the charge for virtual reception services to log in to the diary?


To be fair all the software we have seen has been quick to adopt the GDPR regulations. As a user of the software you are required to ensure that contact details and clinical details of your clients are being stored securely.


It needs to be really, really clear so that we can see who is in clinic and that an appointment is free. Our rule is that if there is a white space it is available for booking. And sharing a diary, although it might be cost saving can complicate the booking.

Can you do all the things you need to with it.

Standard functions would be:

  • automated sms appointment reminders to your clients,
  • embed it in your website,
  • an audit trail

more specialised functions:

  • Does it provide suitable patient record software for your profession and for other practitioners who may use it?
  • Can you link it to a merchant account to take payment?
  • Can it be used for NHS or insurance funded treatments?

Once you have chosen give us a call to talk through how our virtual reception service can help you.


There is nothing like a bit of sun and a bank holiday to ensure we get active

Good news for all the Physiotherapists, Osteopaths, Chiropractors and Podiatrists and any other physical therapists out there. –

Easter is almost upon us and the BBC weather app on my phone tells me it is going to be warm and sunny – at last!!!

There is nothing like a bit of sun and a bank holiday to ensure we start to get active – gardening, walking, canoeing – everyone will be busy this weekend and that means they will be suffering on Tuesday. Which means in turn that it will be busy for you guys.

Here at RTR HQ we are preparing for a rush of calls next Tuesday morning, so you can be sure we will be ready to pick up your calls and book appointments for your clients. Read more…

We are very delighted with the service

thank you all for all of your tremendous kindness, support, patience, hard work and diligence with the care of my reception service.

Both Andrew and our brilliant new associate Anna are all extremely grateful to you all.

Your reception team are often given very warm compliments by the patients being looked after by them.

Guy Gold and Associates
Camden Town, London