Part 2 – Receptionist Helpful: 10 TIPs Your Patients Will Appreciate

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Continuing our 10 TIPs Your Patients Will Appreciate from last week’s Thinking Thursdays TIPs.  Last week we talked about:

  1. Eye Contact
  2. Personal Details Matter
  3. Use Patient’s Preferred Name
  4. Active Listening is Key
  5. Avoid Medical Jargon

Here’s the rest of the 10 TIPs that can make your team make a first impression that will wow your patients.

6)    Be Aware of Body Language – Body language is a form of nonverbal communication, or better described as, a language without spoken words.  Body language plays an essential role in effectively communicating with people. Good body language assures the patient that you are not only hearing but listening and understanding.  The use of good body language builds confidence and trust.   A few helpful points to remember and include when it comes to body language:

  • Maintain proper and open body posture
  • Smile
  • Always face the patient
  • Ensure consistent eye contact
  • Avoid fiddling with things that may distract yourself or the patient
  • Don’t cross your arms, turn away, or stand with hands on hips
  • Avoid biting nails which signify nervousness
  • Avoid looking around or at something else while the patient is speaking

7)    Ask Open Ended Questions – Open-ended questions are questions that result in the patient responding with more than a head nod or a “yes” or “no” answer. Asking open-ended questions will garner more, and better, information from the patient, which could potentially be helpful in diagnosis, treatment, or other critical areas. Some examples of open-ended questions include:

  • For example, try saying, “Tell me how I can help”, instead of asking, “Do you need any help?”
  • Request information from your patient by saying, “Tell me about the help you have at home,” instead of asking, “Do you have help at home?”

8)    Always Show Courtesy and Respect – When it comes to courtesy and respect, most standards of behavior seem basic and make “common sense.”  However, if not applied intentionally, and practiced with every patient, proper standards of behavior will soon be replaced with old- habits and less-than- desirable behaviors will creep back in. Patients interpret courtesy and respect through much more than just the words that are spoken out loud. Non-verbal cues such as tone of voice, and of course, body language, communicate much more to patients than actual words. As mentioned in last Thinking Thursday Tips, a few important points to remember:

  • Make Eye Contact
  • Use Personal Details
  • Actively Listen
  • Avoid Medical Jargon

9)    Waiting Room Rounding – Communicating with patients about wait time and making an effort to express awareness that their time is valuable is a key to giving patients a positive impression, getting their office visit to a good start.  Office wait time also has a high correlation to overall patient satisfaction.   Whenever the patient wait is approaching 15 to 20 minutes, designate a support staff member to “round” the waiting area, updating patients, which will appropriately set patient expectations and improve patient perceptions of having to wait.

10)    Effective Telephone Etiquette – Every practice should have guidelines for answering the phone. Below are sample scripts:

Effective Telephone Etiquette “Good morning (or afternoon), thank you for calling [Practice Name], this is [your name], how may I help you.” Smile as the phone is answered.

Patients can hear whether or not voice and tone inflection is pleasant and welcoming, or irritated and bothered. Develop and use the phone scripts so that everyone knows what to say and responses come across as very natural. Create a consistent experience for the patient. Make the wording of the scripts work for your office protocols and guidelines.


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