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1 Copyright © 2011, 2007, 2003, 1999 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Telephone Techniques Chapter 9.

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Presentation on theme: "1 Copyright © 2011, 2007, 2003, 1999 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Telephone Techniques Chapter 9."— Presentation transcript:

1 1 Copyright © 2011, 2007, 2003, 1999 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Telephone Techniques Chapter 9

2 2 Copyright © 2011, 2007, 2003, 1999 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Introduction The telephone is the lifeline of the medical practice. Telephone technique can either build or destroy a physicians office. The patient is never an interruption of the work day; instead, the patient is the reason the practice exists.

3 3 Copyright © 2011, 2007, 2003, 1999 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. This chapter will examine: How to develop a pleasing telephone voice How to develop a pleasing telephone voice Correct use of the handset Correct use of the handset How to handle callers who wish to speak to the physician How to handle callers who wish to speak to the physician The items needed to take an accurate telephone message The items needed to take an accurate telephone message How to handle difficult callers How to handle difficult callers Questions to ask during an emergency call Questions to ask during an emergency call

4 4 Copyright © 2011, 2007, 2003, 1999 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Calls in the Physicians Office Most incoming calls are from these sources: Established patients calling for appointments or to ask questions Established patients calling for appointments or to ask questions New patients making a first contact with the office New patients making a first contact with the office Patients and medical workers reporting treatment results or emergencies Patients and medical workers reporting treatment results or emergencies Other physicians making referrals or discussing a patient Other physicians making referrals or discussing a patient Laboratories reporting vital patient information Laboratories reporting vital patient information

5 5 Copyright © 2011, 2007, 2003, 1999 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Effective Use of the Telephone The telephone is one of the most valuable tools used in the physicians office. The telephone is one of the most valuable tools used in the physicians office. Medical assistants must project a caring attitude when speaking to those who call the facility. Medical assistants must project a caring attitude when speaking to those who call the facility.

6 6 Copyright © 2011, 2007, 2003, 1999 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Effective Use of the Telephone

7 7 Copyright © 2011, 2007, 2003, 1999 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Active Listening Focus attention on the call at hand. Focus attention on the call at hand. Give the caller the same attention as would be given to a face-to-face visitor. Give the caller the same attention as would be given to a face-to-face visitor. Listen for clues about the patient. Is he or she distressed? Agitated? Fearful? Listen for clues about the patient. Is he or she distressed? Agitated? Fearful?

8 8 Copyright © 2011, 2007, 2003, 1999 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Developing a Pleasing Voice Callers should hear a smile. Callers should hear a smile. Provide excellent customer service. Provide excellent customer service. Enunciate clearly. Enunciate clearly. Use inflections. Use inflections. Listen to impressions the caller is making. Is he or she worried? Frantic? Listen to impressions the caller is making. Is he or she worried? Frantic?

9 9 Copyright © 2011, 2007, 2003, 1999 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Body Language Points to Remember How something is said to a patient is just as important as what is said. How something is said to a patient is just as important as what is said. Remember, the patient may be stressed or worried about his or her condition. Remember, the patient may be stressed or worried about his or her condition. Every caller should feel that the medical assistant has time to address his or her concerns. Every caller should feel that the medical assistant has time to address his or her concerns.

10 10 Copyright © 2011, 2007, 2003, 1999 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Telephone Tips Be alert and interested in the caller. Be alert and interested in the caller. Give the caller full attention. Give the caller full attention. Talk naturally. Talk naturally. Avoid using professional jargon. Avoid using professional jargon. Speak distinctly. Speak distinctly. Talk directly into the mouthpiece. Talk directly into the mouthpiece. Do not eat, drink, or chew gum while on the phone. Do not eat, drink, or chew gum while on the phone.

11 11 Copyright © 2011, 2007, 2003, 1999 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Holding the Handset Correctly Place the handset so that your voice is heard clearly and distinctly. Place the handset so that your voice is heard clearly and distinctly. The mouthpiece should be about 1 inch from the lips and directly in front of the teeth. The mouthpiece should be about 1 inch from the lips and directly in front of the teeth. Never hold the mouthpiece under the chin. Never hold the mouthpiece under the chin. Speak directly into headset mouthpiece. Speak directly into headset mouthpiece.

12 12 Copyright © 2011, 2007, 2003, 1999 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Maintaining Confidentiality All communications in the healthcare facility are confidential. All communications in the healthcare facility are confidential. Use discretion when using the name of the Use discretion when using the name of thecaller. Be careful about being overheard. Be careful about being overheard. Never use a speakerphone to retrieve messages. Never use a speakerphone to retrieve messages.

13 13 Copyright © 2011, 2007, 2003, 1999 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Thinking Ahead Have the patients chart or bill at hand before dialing the phone. Have the patients chart or bill at hand before dialing the phone. Write down a list of questions or goals for the conversation. Write down a list of questions or goals for the conversation. Keep the call short to free phone lines. Keep the call short to free phone lines. Keep a list of frequently called numbers for staff use and to offer to patients. Keep a list of frequently called numbers for staff use and to offer to patients.

14 14 Copyright © 2011, 2007, 2003, 1999 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Techniques for Incoming Calls Answer promptly. Always answer by the third ring. Always answer by the third ring. Place subsequent calls on hold and take care of calls in order. Place subsequent calls on hold and take care of calls in order. Make certain the call is not an emergency. Make certain the call is not an emergency. Keep your focus on the call. Keep your focus on the call. Never answer by stating please hold without verifying that the patient is able to hold. Never answer by stating please hold without verifying that the patient is able to hold.

15 15 Copyright © 2011, 2007, 2003, 1999 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Techniques for Incoming Calls Identify the facility. Use a telephone greeting as set forth in the policy and procedure manual. Use a telephone greeting as set forth in the policy and procedure manual. The title doctor may need to be avoided, depending on the type of practice. The title doctor may need to be avoided, depending on the type of practice. Salutations such as good morning are optional. Salutations such as good morning are optional.

16 16 Copyright © 2011, 2007, 2003, 1999 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Techniques for Incoming Calls Identify the caller. Ask who is calling. Ask who is calling. Repeat the callers name often. Repeat the callers name often. If the caller refuses to identify himself or herself, politely refuse to forward the call to the physician. If the caller refuses to identify himself or herself, politely refuse to forward the call to the physician. Refer the call to the office manager. Refer the call to the office manager.

17 17 Copyright © 2011, 2007, 2003, 1999 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Techniques for Incoming Calls Screen incoming calls. Put calls from other physicians through at once, unless the policy manual requires other action. Put calls from other physicians through at once, unless the policy manual requires other action. Identify the caller. Identify the caller. Determine who should receive the call. Determine who should receive the call. Take an accurate phone message. Take an accurate phone message. Cultivate a reputation for being helpful and reliable. Cultivate a reputation for being helpful and reliable.

18 18 Copyright © 2011, 2007, 2003, 1999 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Techniques for Incoming Calls Minimizing wait time. Ask the caller if he or she prefers to wait. Ask the caller if he or she prefers to wait. Return to the call often. Return to the call often. Give the caller an estimate as to the length of time he or she will have to wait. Give the caller an estimate as to the length of time he or she will have to wait. Thank the patient for waiting. Thank the patient for waiting.

19 19 Copyright © 2011, 2007, 2003, 1999 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Techniques for Incoming Calls Transferring a call Ask permission to place the patient on hold. Ask permission to place the patient on hold. Call the person the patient wishes to speak to, and state that the call is being transferred. Call the person the patient wishes to speak to, and state that the call is being transferred. Transfer the call. Transfer the call. Always send the call to the person who knows the most about the situation. Always send the call to the person who knows the most about the situation.

20 20 Copyright © 2011, 2007, 2003, 1999 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Techniques for Incoming Calls Taking a phone message Name of person calling Name of person calling Name of person the call is for Name of person the call is for Callers phone numbers Callers phone numbers Reason for the call Reason for the call Action to be taken Action to be taken Date and time of the call Date and time of the call Initials of person taking the message Initials of person taking the message

21 21 Copyright © 2011, 2007, 2003, 1999 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Techniques for Incoming Calls

22 22 Copyright © 2011, 2007, 2003, 1999 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Taking Action on Phone Messages Make certain that phone messages receive follow-up. Make certain that phone messages receive follow-up. Never trust memory alone for follow-up on messages. Never trust memory alone for follow-up on messages. Establish a follow-up procedure to ensure that messages are not missed and that follow-up is conducted on each message. Establish a follow-up procedure to ensure that messages are not missed and that follow-up is conducted on each message.

23 23 Copyright © 2011, 2007, 2003, 1999 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Ending a Call Stick to business during the call. Stick to business during the call. Do not encourage chit-chat, but maintain a friendly attitude. Do not encourage chit-chat, but maintain a friendly attitude. Ask if the patient has any further questions or if you can assist him or her in other ways. Ask if the patient has any further questions or if you can assist him or her in other ways. Close the conversation, and let the patient hang up first. Close the conversation, and let the patient hang up first. Replace the handset on the cradle gently. Replace the handset on the cradle gently.

24 24 Copyright © 2011, 2007, 2003, 1999 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Retaining Records of Telephone Messages Develop a policy for message retention. Develop a policy for message retention. Many offices keep messages for the same amount of time records are kept. Many offices keep messages for the same amount of time records are kept. Phone records include telephone bills. Phone records include telephone bills. Keep message pads. Keep message pads. Use message pads that make a copy of the message. Use message pads that make a copy of the message. Document the number of attempts to return calls. Document the number of attempts to return calls.

25 25 Copyright © 2011, 2007, 2003, 1999 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Typical Incoming Calls New patients scheduling appointments New patients scheduling appointments Established patients scheduling appointments Established patients scheduling appointments Patients needing directions Patients needing directions Inquiries about bills and fees Inquiries about bills and fees Insurance provider questions Insurance provider questions Requests for assistance with insurance Requests for assistance with insurance Radiology and laboratory reports Radiology and laboratory reports Satisfactory progress reports from patients Satisfactory progress reports from patients Routine reports from hospitals and other sources Routine reports from hospitals and other sources Office administration matters Office administration matters Requests for referrals Requests for referrals Prescription refills Prescription refills

26 26 Copyright © 2011, 2007, 2003, 1999 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Special Incoming Calls Patients refusing to discuss symptoms Patients refusing to discuss symptoms Unsatisfactory progress reports Unsatisfactory progress reports Requests for test results Requests for test results Requests for information from third parties Requests for information from third parties Complaints about care or fees Complaints about care or fees Calls from the physicians family or friends Calls from the physicians family or friends Calls from staff members family and friends Calls from staff members family and friends Angry or aggressive callers Angry or aggressive callers Emergency callers Emergency callers

27 27 Copyright © 2011, 2007, 2003, 1999 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Questions to Ask during an Emergency Call At what telephone number can you be reached? At what telephone number can you be reached? Where are you located? Where are you located? What are the chief symptoms? What are the chief symptoms? When did they start? When did they start? Has this happened before? Has this happened before? Are you alone? Are you alone? Do you have transportation? Do you have transportation?

28 28 Copyright © 2011, 2007, 2003, 1999 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Screening Guidelines One individual is often assigned screening duties. One individual is often assigned screening duties. A written emergency protocol should be close to each phone. A written emergency protocol should be close to each phone. Employees must not give any advice not on the written protocol. Employees must not give any advice not on the written protocol. Emergency phone numbers should be available. Emergency phone numbers should be available. Make certain that the physician can always be reached. Make certain that the physician can always be reached.

29 29 Copyright © 2011, 2007, 2003, 1999 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Getting Information the Physician Needs Listen carefully to the physician when he or she is questioning patients about their symptoms. Listen carefully to the physician when he or she is questioning patients about their symptoms. The medical assistant will learn to anticipate the physicians needs. The medical assistant will learn to anticipate the physicians needs.

30 30 Copyright © 2011, 2007, 2003, 1999 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Getting Information the Physician Needs

31 31 Copyright © 2011, 2007, 2003, 1999 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Outgoing Calls Plan outgoing calls in advance. Plan outgoing calls in advance. Have all information available when making the call. Have all information available when making the call. Make a list of questions. Make a list of questions. Be courteous and use good diction and enunciation skills. Be courteous and use good diction and enunciation skills. Make all outgoing calls at once to use time to the best advantage. Make all outgoing calls at once to use time to the best advantage. Organizing calls increases office efficiency. Organizing calls increases office efficiency.

32 32 Copyright © 2011, 2007, 2003, 1999 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Telephones of Today Voic Widely used. Widely used. Most employees have their own voic . Most employees have their own voic . Often frustrating for patients who have to go through several voic menus. Often frustrating for patients who have to go through several voic menus. Temporary greetings can be recorded for vacations and meetings. Temporary greetings can be recorded for vacations and meetings.

33 33 Copyright © 2011, 2007, 2003, 1999 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Telephones of Today Answering machines Similar to voic . Similar to voic . Machine is attached to a telephone or a part of the telephone. Machine is attached to a telephone or a part of the telephone. Some have microcassettes or regular cassette tapes. Some have microcassettes or regular cassette tapes. Less common now that voic is popular. Less common now that voic is popular.

34 34 Copyright © 2011, 2007, 2003, 1999 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Telephones of Today Answering services Phones answered by operators. Phones answered by operators. Most offer round-the-clock coverage. Most offer round-the-clock coverage. Operators follow physicians instructions regarding call backs and pages. Operators follow physicians instructions regarding call backs and pages. Operators often cover calls during lunch hours and meeting times. Operators often cover calls during lunch hours and meeting times.

35 35 Copyright © 2011, 2007, 2003, 1999 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Telephones of Today Automatic call routing Often extremely frustrating for the patient Often extremely frustrating for the patient Especially frustrating for elderly patients Especially frustrating for elderly patients Call is answered automatically, and callers are given options: Call is answered automatically, and callers are given options: For appointments, press 1… For insurance questions, press 2…

36 36 Copyright © 2011, 2007, 2003, 1999 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Telephones of Today Call forwarding Allows user to forward calls to another designated number Allows user to forward calls to another designated number Keeps the user from missing important calls when on the go Keeps the user from missing important calls when on the go

37 37 Copyright © 2011, 2007, 2003, 1999 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Telephones of Today Caller ID Allows the user to see who is calling before picking up the handset. Allows the user to see who is calling before picking up the handset. Callers name and phone number usually appear. Callers name and phone number usually appear. Lets the user decide whether to answer the call. Lets the user decide whether to answer the call. Call waiting caller ID identifies callers while the phone is in use. Call waiting caller ID identifies callers while the phone is in use. Caller ID Blocker may need to be disabled when a patient expects an after-hours call from the physician. Caller ID Blocker may need to be disabled when a patient expects an after-hours call from the physician.

38 38 Copyright © 2011, 2007, 2003, 1999 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Telephones of Today Cellular phones Many individuals no longer have a home phone and opt to have cell phones only. Many individuals no longer have a home phone and opt to have cell phones only. Commonplace today, although considered a luxury item as recently as 10 years ago. Commonplace today, although considered a luxury item as recently as 10 years ago. Some allow Internet access and play MP3s. Some allow Internet access and play MP3s. Families or members of groups often can talk to one another for free. Families or members of groups often can talk to one another for free.

39 39 Copyright © 2011, 2007, 2003, 1999 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Telephones of Today Pagers Not as popular since the advent of cell phones. Not as popular since the advent of cell phones. Newer models allow Internet access and news broadcasts. Newer models allow Internet access and news broadcasts. Text messaging is available on newer pagers. Text messaging is available on newer pagers.

40 40 Copyright © 2011, 2007, 2003, 1999 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Telephones of Today Fax machines Imperative in physicians offices. Imperative in physicians offices. Confidentiality is critical. Confidentiality is critical. Use cover sheets that stress confidentiality. Use cover sheets that stress confidentiality.

41 41 Copyright © 2011, 2007, 2003, 1999 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Telephones of Today

42 42 Copyright © 2011, 2007, 2003, 1999 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Telephones of Today Headsets Allow the user to use both hands. Allow the user to use both hands. Most are comfortable and lightweight. Most are comfortable and lightweight. Many have cords that allow for quick disconnect so that the user can walk around and still be connected to a call. Many have cords that allow for quick disconnect so that the user can walk around and still be connected to a call.

43 43 Copyright © 2011, 2007, 2003, 1999 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Long Distance Calls Many telephone companies offer nationwide long distance for very reasonable fees on land lines and cell phones. Many telephone companies offer nationwide long distance for very reasonable fees on land lines and cell phones. Be careful of directory assistance calls; look for phone numbers on the Internet and in phone directories. Be careful of directory assistance calls; look for phone numbers on the Internet and in phone directories.

44 44 Copyright © 2011, 2007, 2003, 1999 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Time Zones

45 45 Copyright © 2011, 2007, 2003, 1999 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Wrong Numbers Always apologize when a wrong number is reached. Always apologize when a wrong number is reached. If a wrong number is reached long distance, call the operator and ask for credit on the phone bill. If a wrong number is reached long distance, call the operator and ask for credit on the phone bill.

46 46 Copyright © 2011, 2007, 2003, 1999 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Conference Calls Can be set up through operators or through conference call services. Can be set up through operators or through conference call services. Can be local or long distance, or both. Can be local or long distance, or both. Charges are added for the number of places connected, distance between parties, number of parties, and length of the call. Charges are added for the number of places connected, distance between parties, number of parties, and length of the call.

47 47 Copyright © 2011, 2007, 2003, 1999 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Operator-Assisted Calls and Services Person-to-person Person-to-person Billing to a third party Billing to a third party Collect calls Collect calls Requests for time and charges Requests for time and charges Certain calls placed from hotels Certain calls placed from hotels Credit for wrong numbers Credit for wrong numbers Conference calls Conference calls Some international calls Some international calls

48 48 Copyright © 2011, 2007, 2003, 1999 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Telephone Directories Usually divided into three sections: Introductory pages Introductory pages White pages White pages Yellow pages Yellow pages Many directories have blue pages, which list government offices and services. Make a practice of using

49 49 Copyright © 2011, 2007, 2003, 1999 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Other Information in Directories Emergency services Emergency services Service calls Service calls Dialing instructions Dialing instructions Area codes Area codes Newcomer information Newcomer information Community service numbers Community service numbers Prefix locations Prefix locations Rates and regulations Rates and regulations

50 50 Copyright © 2011, 2007, 2003, 1999 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Personal Phone Directory The personal phone directory should include numbers that employees frequently call. The personal phone directory should include numbers that employees frequently call. Establish a list of community resources that includes phone numbers and contact information. Establish a list of community resources that includes phone numbers and contact information.

51 51 Copyright © 2011, 2007, 2003, 1999 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Summary of Scenario Give every call the attention that it deserves Give every call the attention that it deserves Remain calm, no matter what is happening on the other end of the telephone line. Remain calm, no matter what is happening on the other end of the telephone line. Treat callers as you would personally wish to be treated. Treat callers as you would personally wish to be treated.

52 52 Copyright © 2011, 2007, 2003, 1999 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Closing Comments Make certain that the patient hears caring and compassion in your voice. Make certain that the patient hears caring and compassion in your voice. Always try to help the patient accomplish what he or she set out to do when making the call to the office. Always try to help the patient accomplish what he or she set out to do when making the call to the office. Make certain that follow-up on every call is completed in a timely manner. Make certain that follow-up on every call is completed in a timely manner.


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