Words Matter: The Word Choices Of Your Staff And How It Affects Your Bottom Line

Running a doctor’s office is like any other business.  Since business is not something taught in medical school, the business aspects of running an office may be a challenge. One of the areas doctors and their staff should focus on is customer service. Often, people feel aggressed by a medical insurance system they do not comprehend, and it is easy for them to extend their distrust to your practice. Educating your staff on how to approach patients will help them to create not just a pleasant atmosphere but also a more financially productive practice.


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Before you even get the chance to evaluate the patient, he will have seen and interacted with several of your staff members from intake to the nurses.  The way your employees interact with your patients can influence the patient’s view of you and your business a great deal.  When patients feel valued and heard, they are more likely not only to trust your medical opinion and follow through on your medical advice but also to return for further medical care and to speak positively of you to others.  These are the keys to financial stability for your office.

Telephone etiquette

  1. Often, a patient’s first contact with your office is a phone call. When staff present themselves professionally and warmly, the patient will have a positive first impression. These are the essential rules professional etiquette for your office staff:
  2. Never let the phone ring more than three times
  3. Always respond with full name, greeting and a smile—the muscles in your face affect the tone of your voice, and this affects the caller’s impression
  4. Ask politely for identification
  5. Avoid talking confidential aspects over the phone if someone may overhear the conversation
  6. Always speak clearly and slowly
  7. Take the extra time at the end to make sure the patient’s questions have all been answered

Frequently asked questions

Every office has its procedures and methods, and every patient knows that they will have to learn a new routine at each office.  However, no patient ever wants to feel like he and the staff are learning at the same time.  This creates the impression that the staff is disorganized and unprofessional.  Always ensure that employees have responses ready for basic questions about the practice’s location, hours, procedures and policies.  Naturally, there are going to be times when your staff does not have an exact answer for a question, which is perfectly acceptable.  In those instances, the staff member should explain to the patient how long it will take for them to research the answer and then follow up with the patient within that time period.

A simple approach to helping your staff develop comfort with this information is to create a list of questions that patients might ask on a regular basis and train your staff to answer those questions.

Treat each patient like they are the true focus of your attention

Another mindset for your staff to develop is that each patient needs to be treated like they are the most important. This may seem elementary, but in busy practices, it is easy for attention to be divided amongst many people or issues.

It is also essential for the members of your staff to be good listeners.  Many clients are nervous while at the doctor’s office because something out of their control is affecting their body.  They are in an uncomfortable position of having to trust someone’s knowledge about issues affecting their body.  They might also be worried about payment.  Listening and responding appropriately, especially to concerns, will help them to relax, provide you with the best history possible, and be mentally open to working with you.

Following up on promises

It is important for staff members to be capable of following up on the promises they make to patients. If a staff member promises to call a patient with lab results within a week, the staff member needs to do so. As long as your staff proves to be reliable and trustworthy, your patients will have every reason to come back to you for more services.

Dealing with patients’ complaints

One area of customer service that you will need to talk about with your staff is about handling complaints. As happens in any other business, patients may feel like they have been wronged, or they may simply address a reasonable concern.

Teach your staff to never dismiss a patient issuing a complaint. They must first take note of the problem and listen patiently, offering the patient the possibility to express themselves.  Often, this expression and a suitable apology and correction of whatever went wrong is enough to satisfy and keep a patient.

The way your staff interacts with patients can influence the success of your business a great deal, so do not overlook customer service training for your employees.

CRTMedical.com is a full-service medical billing company.

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