Good Phone Triage Ups Patient Satisfaction, Reduces Risk

Side Note: As most physicians know, patient satisfaction and lower med mal risk go hand-in-hand. When patients are satisfied with their interactions with their doctors, they are less likely to sue. Thus, for almost every effort a physician makes to improve his or her practice, and reduce liability risk and errors, there is frequently another bonus pay-off in terms of patient satisfaction, reducing their risk further.

While there are many areas in which physicians can work to reduce risk in their practice, today we will focus on phone call triage. Establishing a well thought out phone call protocol for a physician’s office will ensure that phone calls are handled consistently and appropriately. However, just establishing the protocol will not do a practice any good if it is not carried out by staff. Thus, all protocols should be written down, handed out to staff, and expectations of its implementation should be made clear.

More specifically, the protocol should outline who in the office can take calls, which calls should be transferred, how emergency phone calls should be handled, etc. For minor, or commonly seen problems, an outline should be established for how to handle these issues. All phone calls should be documented and put in the patient’s chart. A physician’s protocol should also include how to document calls (either on paper or electronically) and what information should be included (eg, date and time of call, patient’s name, reason for call, action taken, etc). See the article below for more details.

Establishing a consistent phone call triage protocol will allow for calls to be handled more efficiently, authoritatively and consistently. A physician’s patients will be reassured by the organization and confidence displayed by the office and the predictability of how the calls are handled. The patient, too, will be able to learn what information is usually requested and he or she will be able to have more efficient and productive interactions with the staff.

More efficient and well-run practices can reduce med mal risk and reduce errors. Reducing errors can ultimately help reduce the cost of med mal coverage and increase patient satisfaction. We here at are interested in helping you do both of these things. In addition to providing our physicians with the lowest liability policy rates available, we are also interested in serving as physician advocates for our physicians. This is why we also provide our physicians with access to our Patient Satisfaction Survey just for requesting a free quote. This, easy-to-use survey allows physicians to gage their patients’ overall satisfaction with their practice. The tool evaluates the eight “dimensions of care” developed by the Picker Institute and the American Hospital Association. In addition, also for requesting a free quote, our physicians get access to our customizable Office Policies and Procedures Manual, which has a specific section on phone call triage. may be able to lower your liability premiums. To see, complete our free, no-obligation quote request today.

Risk Tip: Reducing Risks in Telephone Triage
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The phone is a key area of responsibility for front-line staff, and it is critical for physicians to make certain that protocols for this important point of contact with patients are set, reviewed and followed. Otherwise, the practice is at risk.

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