Tips to Better Manage Incoming Calls at Your Medical Practice
Are you the owner or manager of a medical practice? If so, you will understand the importance of being there for your patients. Their health concerns don’t just happen between the hours of 9am to 5pm, they can and do happen at all hours of the day and night. To handle this 24-hour need, your phone system must be up-to-date and resources should be available at all times to help patients with their needs.
Examples of the ways poor incoming call management can take its toll on your medical practice include loss of revenue, inefficient use of staff time and risk to patient health. That said, take the following five tips into account to improve productivity and deal with patients’ concerns properly:
- Equip staff well – The person calling your office is often feeling anxious or worried. To handle these calls, equip your staff with best practices training and regular refreshers on proper phone etiquette. In a medical office setting, everyone intends to be helpful, courteous and friendly; but long, busy days can often wreck best intentions when staff are not afforded proper training on inbound call management in a high call volume environment.
- Tell patients what to expect – How can you expect your patients to feel calm if they aren’t told when to expect a call back, what time their appointment is, which doctor they will see, etc.? Informing and then confirming these things with them will reduce the number of incoming calls.
- Offer educational materials – If patients are able to reference educational materials at any time, more of their questions will be answered and they’ll be less likely to place time consuming calls for minor questions. These materials can be provided in the form of leaflets, emails or information posted on the medical practice’s website.
- Visit summaries – Don’t presume that patients will absorb every single thing they were told during an appointment with the doctor. Assemble those notes and give the caller an overview of the visit once more to give them more confidence in their care and reduce the number of repetitive or post-visit questions.
- Use a Virtual Receptionist – Calls may flood in 24/7 and while in-office staff might not be able to deal with them, virtual receptionists that work independently of your business can. They are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. With your guidance they can take messages for non-urgent calls, and get urgent messages through to your on-call representatives when necessary. They can also handle your phones during staff meetings, staff shortages, power outages, emergencies, and when all your internal phone lines are busy.
By taking the time to listen to your patients carefully, you can prevent them from feeling alienated. Miscommunication is one of the main reasons why medical practices fail in providing complete patient satisfaction. Managing this effectively with a combination of approaches will relieve patient fears and demonstrate that you have the right communication procedures in place.
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