NOW THIS is a thorny subject for patients, medical secretaries and consultants alike. Here’s two common scenarios: ‘The patient says she couldn’t get through’. ‘She was a new patient. That’s like gold dust. We need to answer every call’. ‘I just received a complaint from a GP who couldn’t get through to refer a patient’.
How do we answer every call? Is that even possible? How many calls are being answered at your practice today? 50%? 90%? Can you measure this?
TOP TIPS TO AVOID MISSING A CALL
Own your phone number. Ensure you have a number for life
Measure it to manage it – Monthly reviews of our performance will ensure we continue to focus on this key element of practice management
Call audit – Address the reasons why patients are calling and look at ways to reduce the calls that are less productive
Technology solutions – Investigate the ways in which your phone system can support the process
Voicemail – Ensure messages are returned promptly
Appointment reminders – Ensure we include the address and details of how to find us. Ask patients to email to confirm not call
Online booking should be embraced by all
Call-answering bureaux/call centres – Can be used as a back-up option
Patient calls are vital and high priority. It is important to have a culture that treats them as such
I will leave you with the famous words of Blondie: ‘Don’t leave me hanging on the telephone.’
Most practices will be receiving patient feedback on a regular basis. This can range from the quiet chat with the receptionist or medical secretary, to the hand-delivered box of chocolates or the hopefully infrequent irate phone call or email. But how are you collecting these reviews, measuring your patients’ satisfaction and dealing with complaints?
establish an open team culture encouraging all feedback to be shared
encourage patients to share their reviews on your Facebook page, google and other social media accounts
send patients links to relevant medical websites where reviews are encouraged
share great reviews on your website (having asked the patient’s permission)
set up a monthly or quarterly programme of feedback requests from patients
decide on the best way to collect ad hoc patient feedback from team members
put in place a detailed complaints process
communicate your complaints process openly with your patients
respond to complaints and online negative reviews promptly and professionally
collate all your feedback regularly from all sources, to inform your improvement plan