The Telephone and Your Practice

Side Note: In the past, on this blog we have written about the importance of telephone triage and how good phone triage can help physicians minimize their med mal exposure and make their offices more efficient. A new study sheds further light on the importance of this topic from a patient satisfaction perspective.

Often, the first contact a new patient has with a physician’s practice is via the telephone. And, like all first impressions, the first impression a patient has with a physician’s practice is important. While most physicians would agree with this, then why do so many physicians leave it to chance who answers the phone in their office? And, why do they often provide zero to little instruction on what to say (or not say) or little instruction on how they want commonly occurring calls handled? Like it or not, often a patient may judge the competency of the physician by how competently the phones are answered. Telephone contact should be considered part of the doctor-patient relationship and also viewed as an important aspect of customer satisfaction.

Health industry survey firm, Press Ganey, recently released its annual survey, “Medical Practice Patient Satisfaction Pulse Report.” The firm surveyed 2.7 million patients and generally found that they are dissatisfied with the ease of making appointments, the promptness of returned phone calls and the helpfulness of office staff over the telephone. See the article below for a thoughtful and insightful discussion of this topic. It includes a discussion about providing scripts for staff, information on why the receptionist should not answer the phone, special considerations for seniors and sample scripts.

We know that our physicians work hard to not only provide excellent care, but to also make sure that their patients are happy and satisfied with their care. Because of this, we here at provide our clients with a free Patient Satisfaction Survey in addition to low med mal policy rates.

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Is your telephone hurting your practice? Phone do’s and don’ts
By Emily Berry, amednews staff
Posted March 7, 2011

Imagine an auditorium filled with your patients, prospective patients, every physician who sends you referrals and every pharmacist who handles your prescriptions. If you wanted to make a good impression, would you keep them waiting, then send your least-experienced staff member to address the crowd without a script?

That’s effectively what many physicians do every day when it comes to manning their office telephones, experts say. They forget to train anyone in the office how to deal with the barrage of questions callers may have and leave the responsibility for making a good impression on staff members without telling them what to say — or what not to say.

Original Article Here

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