Home Practice ManagementSchedulingPatient Communication Cheat Sheet: Unidentified Patient Calling

Cheat Sheet: Unidentified Patient Calling

by Craig Callen

How your staff answers the phone is one of the most critical keys to the success of your practice. A rude or distracted front desk employee can kill your practice. A friendly, well trained, enthusiastic employee can make your practice soar. We have had quite a bit of training with our front desk staff, including having the calls recorded and rated. We have this cheat sheet to serve as a reminder of the basic information that is needed. What is not on here is that the staff needs to be friendly, engaging, and interested in what the patient has to say.

Find Out Why They Called

The first thing we want to find out is why they called. Is this simply a patient wanting to schedule a recall appointment, an emergency, or a new patient? We ask their name right up front so that we can pull their info up on the computer if they are an existing patient to look for red flags (slow pay, broken appointments, etc), or appointments set but not yet scheduled. We ask when their last appointment was, so we can also determine if they have ever been here before, or not.

“Without proper phone skills to deal with patients, you might as well not spend a dime on marketing to get them to call.”

A new front desk person should not ask a long term patient if they have ever been to the practice before. We make sure if they are going to be a new patient, an emergency patient, or a combination. Since we have multiple doctors, we offer them a choice of who they want to see. It is critical to track where our new patients come from, so we ask specifically where they found out about us. We want to do what we can to encourage this first visit to put to rest any fears or concerns, so we will offer free second opinions, or look see appointment. If all else fails we try to send them an office brochure.

Ask For One More Thing

When you go to McDonalds, they will always ask for one more thing in your order. If you ask for a burger, they will ask if you want fries with that burger. If you order a burger and fries, they will ask if you want to make it a meal with a drink. They always ask. We ask if there is anyone else in the family who needs an appointment. Now is the time to get them. If only one in five says, “Yes, I might as well schedule my husband while I have you on the phone,” you have increased your new patient flow.

All new patients are sent a new patient packet with brochures on the practice, insurance brochures, HIPAA release forms, patient forms, and a welcome letter. If there is not time, they are given the packet when they arrive, or they can download them from our web site.

This is a huge part of the puzzle in running a successful practice. Without proper phone skills to deal with patients, you might as well not spend a dime on marketing to get them to call. The call can literally make or break you.

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