The Best Phone Communication Techniques When Speaking to Patients
Each interaction with a patient affects the person’s overall perception of your healthcare organization.
For example, when patients contact your office, are they met with friendly and helpful office staff? Or, are the interactions cold and impersonal?
If you want to improve patient retention and optimize the patient experience, it all comes down to how your office staff interacts with patients. Often, the initial conversations start on the phone, which means your team needs to be ready with solid communication skills before a patient ever walks through the door.
Challenges of Phone Communication
Even though the phone is a standard method for communicating information, there are common barriers that get in the way of a quality patient experience. Here are some of the challenges that healthcare organizations often face when dealing with phone communication:
- Busy Office: When your office staff juggles many responsibilities, it’s hard to dedicate the time and attention each phone call deserves. Sometimes, phone interactions suffer because office staff members are focusing more on in-person interactions.
- Body Language: A lot of non-verbal communication happens through body language. In addition to the words spoken, other movements and body positions share a complete message. These non-verbal language nuances are lost when the conversation is happening on the phone.
- Patient Preferences: In a world of texting and digital communication, many people have an aversion to talking on the phone. Patients might be trying to get off the call as quickly as possible, which can hinder communication.
How to Improve Phone Interactions
Even with the latest texting and email notifications, phone conversations are a daily occurrence that won’t disappear anytime soon. Since your staff members will be talking with patients over the phone regularly, you need to be proactive about training them on how to avoid different types of conversations.
Here are a few tips to improve phone conversations:
- Maintain a Caring Demeanor: Patients might not remember the specific words spoken, but they will remember how the staff member’s tone of voice made them feel. Teach your team to maintain high levels of empathy and care in their speech, especially when talking to patients in varying scenarios – people may be angry, frustrated, sad, or depressed.
- Be Clear About Your Purpose: Before dialing the number, have a clear purpose for the phone conversation. This approach allows you to get to the point and finish the call efficiently, which shows how you are respecting the patient’s time.
- Avoid Medical Jargon: Just because it’s common to use medical jargon with other staff members doesn’t mean that patients will understand what you are saying. Be thoughtful about avoiding acronyms or complicated medical vocabulary that might confuse the patient.
- Be an Active Listener: Not only are phone conversations an opportunity for you to share information with a patient, but it’s also a chance for you to listen to the person. Ask clarifying questions and restate what you are hearing to show that you are listening.
- Offer Your Full Attention: Multitasking might be tempting on a busy day, but it’s crucial to resist other activities when speaking with patients on the phone. For example, avoid checking emails or text messages when you are mid-conversation with someone. The most important thing you can do to listen actively is by offering the person your undivided attention.
Also, don’t underestimate the benefits that come from outsourcing some of the phone calls. If your staff members feel like the phone is constantly ringing off the hook, it can be challenging to keep up with other responsibilities in the office. Specific phone calls can be outsourced to a professional team, such as the never-ending calls for medical record requests.
At RecordQuest, we offer full-service solutions to help with your HIPAA compliance. Not only does our system integrate with your EMR software, but we also have a dedicated customer service team to handle your medical record needs.
If you are looking to reduce the stress on your staff members, then talk to us about updating your systems for submitting, reviewing, and releasing medical records. Reach out to us to schedule a demo.