First Impressions:

Answering Phone Calls “After Hours” Helps Doctors Treat Kids in Real Time


By Sue Cunningham-Milito

When a baby spikes a fever at night, Forest Hills Pediatric Associates relies on Cunningham Communications to answer its after hours phone calls so doctors can care for children in real time. No parent of a sick child wants to wait until the next day to talk with their child’s pediatrician.

“Kids don’t get sick just between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. It is very important to us that parents can reach us by phone. Cunningham Communications acts as our receptionist after hours,” says Forest Hills Pediatrics  Practice Administrator, Kathy Hickey.

“Getting kids into the office before 8 p.m. to see the on-call doctor can help keep kids out of urgent care or the emergency room.”

“We rely on Cunningham operators to be kind, to listen and get the right details,” Hickey says.

“We need the patient name, the date of birth, and the reason why the parent is calling.”

Forest Hills Pediatric Associates serves as the “medical home” for thousands of patients.

Many Forest Hills Pediatrics patients are children with complex medical needs. These children need the care of a pediatrician familiar with their condition.

A key benefit for doctors offices is that Cunningham Communications uses the miSecure text system.

Hickey says, “The Cunningham operators can text us the protected health information they obtain from the caller. Because Cunningham uses the “miSecure” system we can quickly text the details to the nurse and doctor on call.”

Waiting on hold in a queue “until the next available operator” is not an option for parents concerned about the health of their sick child.

“We have a lot of new families,” Hickey says. “First time parents of newborns want reassurance that a nurse or doctor will be able to answer their questions.”