1. Always offer to help the caller. If a patient calls and wants to speak to the doctor and he/she is not available, take this approach: “Doctor Thomas is with a patient. This is Jane, could I help you?” If the patient insists on speaking to the doctor, politely ask, “Could I please have your name and number, and I’ll see that Dr. Thomas receives your message.”
2. Screen with skill and grace. “May I tell Dr. Thomas who is calling?” Avoid putting the patient on the defensive. Eliminate questions such as “What’s this regarding?” Or “Why are you calling?” Rather, take the helpful, concerned approach. “Mrs. Smith, if you could give me just a bit of information, I’m sure I can help you.” The patient must be treated like a welcome guest not an annoying interruption.
3. Avoid patient pinball. Rather than bouncing patients around the office, tell them that you will be happy to check on that matter and get back to them as soon as possible. Or, better yet, get the person they need immediately, “I’m sure Sue the business manager can help you. Can you hold while I get her?”
4. Always offer solutions. “Mrs. Smith, let me see what we can do to help. Can you hold for a moment while I check on that?” And if you make a promise, keep it. “Mrs. Smith, I will give you a call back before noon with the information.” Follow through on your pledge.