You never get a second chance at a first impression.
While it might seem obvious, many medical practices don’t realize the power their receptionists have on their patients. From scheduling appointments to answering frequently asked questions, a medical receptionist often holds the fate of their employer in their hands. While the work might seem tedious at times, it’s important to hone those medical receptionist skills as quickly as possible. Fail to deliver on patient expectations and they might simply hang up and dial your competition. Here are five things a medical receptionist should know about handling patient phone calls:
Make Phone Etiquette a Priority
When it comes to our health, we expect our doctors and nurses to follow the highest standards possible. When a medical receptionist greets us politely and addresses each concern with patience, it’s easy to bank on the in-house medical team holding themselves to similar standards. Conversely, when a receptionist is rude or impatient, we’re less likely to want to come in for an appointment.
Answering the phone should be like greeting a patient who walks into the office. By addressing them kindly, answering questions with empathy, and following traditional phone etiquette, medical receptionists can ensure patients feel comfortable about their appointment. It’s an easy way to project an image of confidence, authority, and professionalism.
Protect Patient Privacy
Verifying patient information comes standard for receptionists in the healthcare industry. It’s one of the main tasks required for the job. Unfortunately, not every medical receptionist takes this duty seriously. Carelessness can lead to mistakes and, in some cases, HIPAA violations.
Take time to verify insurance information, birthdates, and patient contact information with an eye towards privacy. Ensure records are updated regularly, be careful what you share over the phone, and never send sensitive information via unsecured text message. Online healthcare communication portals are growing in popularity, but they’re the only recommended way to share private medical details virtually.
Minimize Wait Times
A large number of callers will be dialing in to speak directly with their doctor. Given the hectic schedules of most physicians, this isn’t always immediately possible. Many practices opt to put callers on hold until the doctor can come to the phone. Anyone looking for tips on how to be a better medical receptionist should keep this one in mind: a waiting caller is an unhappy caller. And the longer they wait, the more unhappy they become.
The next time a caller asks to speak with a doctor, tell them that they’re unavailable if they can’t take the call immediately. Then ask for the patient’s phone number, name, and reason for calling. This allows staff to pull their chart and arrange for a time for the appropriate person to call back. Not only does this minimize wait time for the caller, but it also frees up your phone line for other patients to call in. It also cuts down on the number of interruptions to the doctors and nurses on staff.
Channel Calls Strategically
A medical receptionist must be a jack of all trades, with a little bit of knowledge about a lot of different topics. From healthcare privacy laws to employee phone call preferences, it’s a lot to keep in mind. One way to manage all these disparate pieces of information is to route calls in a strategic way. When picking up the phone, a medical receptionist should be prepared to forward each caller to the most appropriate department. This helps callers get answers to their questions more quickly and minimizes the amount of caller-specific information the receptionist must hold in their head at once.
Consider all the various reasons a person might call into your office. From appointment scheduling to medication management, the options are incredibly varied. A medical receptionist is the first line of defense for a busy practice. By re-directing callers to the most appropriate department or person, questions and concerns are addressed as efficiently as possible.
Increase Your Availability
Most medical facilities follow traditional business hours. Patients frequently take time off of work to come in for appointments, but some struggle to even find the time to schedule them in the first place. Medical receptionist tips can only be helpful if there is a voice at the end of the line when a patient calls. Voicemail and busy signals will only turn away eager patients.
If you’re hoping to up your organization’s customer service game, consider increasing the hours that your medical receptionist is available. Patients should know that your team is available even when your office is closed for the night. By leaving a metaphorical light on for your callers, you’ll quickly become known for your reliability. Of course, staffing a 24/7 phone line can be pricey, especially if you’re paying a full-time medical receptionist to cover the phones. Thankfully, there are other options for busy medical offices.
Improve Telephone Management with MAP Communications
MAP Communications virtual medical receptionists can provide comprehensive, HIPAA-compliant service 24 hours a day. Affordable and professional, our team can seamlessly support the work of your current staff. Roll calls over to our team during busy times so no patients are kept waiting and flip those phones to us when your office closes for 24/7 coverage. Give us a call or send us a message today to find out more!
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