1 Telephone Techniques Chapter 9 Chapter 9 Telephone Techniques This chapter describes the correct use of the telephone in the medical office.
2 Introduction The telephone is the lifeline of the medical practice. The telephone is one of the most valuable tools used in the physician’s office.Telephone technique can either build or destroy a physician’s office.The patient is never an interruption of the work day; instead, the patient is the reason the practice exists.Medical assistants must project a caring attitude when speaking to those who call the facility.Provide this overview for the chapter content.Assign the study guide that corresponds with this chapter if not assigned in advance, as well as any additional assignments that are associated with this chapter.
3 We will review: How to develop a pleasing telephone voice Correct use of the handsetHow to handle callers who wish to speak to the physicianThe items needed to take an accurate telephone messageHow to handle difficult callersQuestions to ask during an emergency callBriefly discuss each of the points listed on the slide.
4 Who Calls the Physician’s Office? Patients calling for appointments or to ask questionsNew patients making a first contact with the officePatients or medical workers reporting treatment results or emergenciesOther physicians making referrals or discussing a patientLaboratories reporting vital patient resultsBriefly discuss each of the points listed on the slide.
5 Active Listening Focus attention on the call at hand. 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?Become a good active listener. The more the medical assistant works to enhance his or her listening skills, the better result when hearing what the patient is saying and what might be felt, but unsaid. Never speak when the patient is speaking, and do not run your next comments through your mind when listening, because you will not truly hear the patient’s concerns.
6 How should you sound? Callers should “hear a smile.” Provide excellent customer service.Enunciate clearly.Use inflections.Every caller should feel that the medical assistant has time to address his or her concerns.Talk naturally.Avoid using professional jargon.The mouthpiece should be about 1 inch from the lips and directly in front of the teeth.Do not eat, drink, or chew gum while on the phoneWhat is meant by “hearing a smile”? Discuss and role play telephone conversations with an emphasis on hearing the smile. Discuss how excellent customer service requires the medical assistant to go the extra mile to help.
7 Maintaining Confidentiality All communications in the healthcare facility are confidential.Use discretion when using the name of thecaller.Be careful about being overheard.Never use a speakerphone to retrieve messages.Be cautious about using identifying words that other patients can hear while talking on the telephone. All communications must be kept strictly confidential.
8 When making a call-Think Ahead! Have the patient’s chart or bill at hand before dialing the phone.Write down a list of questions or goals for the conversation.Keep the call short to free phone lines.Keep a list of frequently called numbers for staff use and to offer to patients.Always plan calls, and set aside a regular time each day to make telephone calls. The work day will run much more smoothly if calls are done once or twice during the day.
9 Techniques for Incoming Calls Answer promptly.Always answer by the third ring.Place subsequent calls on hold and take care of calls in order.Make certain the call is not an emergency.Never answer by stating “please hold” without verifying that the patient is able to hold.Always answer calls by the third ring. Never, ever answer a call and say “please hold” before determining if the patient has an emergency.
10 Techniques for Incoming Calls Identify the caller.Ask who is calling.Repeat the caller’s name often.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.Always politely identify the patient and never send a call to the physician without knowing who the caller is. Salespeople are often very sly about getting around a receptionist.
11 Techniques for Incoming Calls Screen incoming calls.Put calls from other physicians through at once, unless the policy manual requires other action.Identify the caller.Determine who should receive the call.Take an accurate phone message.Cultivate a reputation for being helpful and reliable.Know the jobs that other co-workers are responsible for, such as the person who handles insurance, prescription refills, and other duties. Patients get more frustrated each time their calls are transferred.
12 Techniques for Incoming Calls Transferring a callAsk permission to place the patient on hold.Call the person the patient wishes to speak to, and state that the call is being transferred.Transfer the call.Always send the call to the person who knows the most about the situation.Refrain from blindly sending a call to another extension without determining that the person sought is available to take the call. If there is no answer when trying the extension, return to the caller and ask if he or she wishes to be put through to voic . This technique is much more professional than sending the call through, not knowing whether the person sought will answer.
13 Techniques for Incoming Calls Taking a phone messageName of person callingName of person the call is forCaller’s phone numbersReason for the callAction to be takenDate and time of the callInitials of person taking the messageMake certain that phone messages receive follow-up and document the number of attempts to return calls.Both computerized message-taking and manual message-taking require each of these bits of information to take a proper, accurate telephone message. Computerized systems often populate most of the information when the patient is brought up on the screen.
14 Ending a Call Stick to business during the call. 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.Replace the handset on the cradle gently.If on the phone with a talkative patient, simply say that another call is coming in and must be taken. Always allow the caller to hang up first.
15 A normal day in the office calls: Patients needing directionsInquiries about bills and feesInsurance provider questionsRequests for assistance with insuranceRoutine reports from hospitals and other sourcesRequests for referralsPrescription refillsRequests for test resultsBriefly discuss a typical version of each type of incoming call.
16 Questions to Ask during an Emergency Call At what telephone number can you be reached?Where are you located?What are the chief symptoms?When did they start?Has this happened before?Are you alone?Do you have transportation?Discuss other questions that might be important during an emergency call.
17 Getting Information the Physician Needs Listen carefully to the physician when he or she is questioning patients about their symptoms.The medical assistant will learn to anticipate the physician’s needs.If a patient arrives with a potential bladder or kidney infection, the physician will almost always want a urine specimen. If the doctor asks for a CBC, draw a red top tube as well in case other blood tests are indicated. Anticipate the physician’s needs and save time during the workday.
18 Closing CommentsMake 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.Make certain that follow-up on every call is completed in a timely manner.