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7. Managing Correspondence and Mail. Learning Outcomes. 7.1 List the supplies necessary for creating and mailing professional-looking correspondence. 7.2 Identify the types of correspondence used in medical office communications.

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Managing Correspondence and Mail

learning outcomes
Learning Outcomes

7.1 List the supplies necessary for creating and mailing professional-looking correspondence.

7.2 Identify the types of correspondence used in medical office communications.

7.3 Describe the parts of a letter and the different letter and punctuation styles.

7.4 Compose a business letter.

learning outcomes cont
Learning Outcomes (cont.)

7.5 Explain the tasks involved in editing and proofreading.

7.6 Describe the process of handling incoming and outgoing mail.

7.7 Compare and contrast the services provided by the U.S. Postal Service and other delivery services.


  • Written materials demonstrate ability to
    • Communicate
    • Conduct business
  • Professional image is conveyed in written correspondence
  • Written documents = legal records
correspondence and professionalism
Correspondence and Professionalism

Learning to

Create  Receive Send

correspondence properly ensures positive, effective communication between your office and others.

choosing correspondence supplies

Letterhead paper





Choosing Correspondence Supplies


choosing correspondence supplies cont

Formal business stationary

Doctor’s or office’s name, address, phone number printed at the top

Correspondence with




Choosing Correspondence Supplies(cont.)

Medical Practice, Inc.

111 One Dr.

Any, St. 11111


choosing correspondence supplies cont1
Choosing Correspondence Supplies (cont.)
  • Letterhead
    • Cotton fiber bond
      • More expensive than other types of paper (sulfite bond)
      • Watermark
    • Sizes
      • Standard or letter size – 8½ x 11 inches
      • Legal size – 8½ x 14 inches

Medical Practice, Inc.

111 One Dr.

Any, St. 11111



choosing correspondence supplies cont2
Choosing Correspondence Supplies (cont.)
  • Envelopes
    • Should match letterhead
    • Types of envelopes
      • Correspondence or business – No. 10
      • Invoices or statements – No. 6 to No. 10
      • Payment-return envelopes
      • Tan Kraft or clasp envelopes – large, bulky documents
      • Padded envelopes – send items that may be damaged during mail handling
      • Data mailers
choosing correspondence supplies cont3
Choosing Correspondence Supplies (cont.)
  • Labels
    • Printed, computerized address labels can save a large amount of time
  • Invoices and statements
    • Preprinted invoices
    • Preprinted statements
    • Computer-generated invoices and statements
    • Superbills
    • Data mailers
apply your knowledge
Apply Your Knowledge

What three things do written materials of a medical office convey or demonstrate?

ANSWER: Written materials convey the ability of the medical office staff to communicate and to conduct business, as well as demonstrate a professional image that reflects on the entire office staff.


written correspondence
Written Correspondence
  • Form of communication
  • Purpose - to explain, clarify, or provide information
  • Types
    • Referrals
    • Scheduling
    • Patient reports
    • Patient education
    • Insurance/billing information
    • Cover or form letters
parts of a business letter


Month, day, and year

Begins 3 lines below letterhead on line 15

Inside address

Includes information needed for correct delivery

Two to four spaces below dateline

Parts of a Business Letter
parts of a business letter cont
Attention line

Used when letter is sent to specific person in a company


Written greeting such as “Dear”

May use business title or department if name is not known

Second line below inside address

Parts of a Business Letter (cont.)
parts of a business letter cont1
Subject line

Used to bring attention to subject (optional)

Second line below salutation


Begins two lines below salutation or subject line

Single-spaced within a paragraph

Double-spaced between paragraphs

Parts of a Business Letter (cont.)
parts of a business letter cont2
Complimentary closing

Placed two lines below body

“Sincerely” is commonly used

Signature block

Places writer’s name on first line and business title on second line

Three to four lines below complimentary closing

Parts of a Business Letter (cont.)
parts of a business letter cont3
Identification line

Letter writer’s initials and the typist’s initials (KB/SF or KB:SF)

Two lines below the signature block


May be abbreviated as Encl, Enc, or Encs

Copy notation (c:) appears after the enclosure notation

Number of enclosures and copy recipients

One to two lines below signature block or identification line

Parts of a Business Letter (cont.)
written correspondence cont
Written Correspondence (cont.)

Punctuation Styles



punctuation styles
Punctuation Styles
  • Open punctuation uses no punctuation after these items in a letter
    • The word Attention in the attention line
    • The salutation
    • The complimentary closing
    • The signature block
    • The enclosure and copy notations
punctuation styles cont
Punctuation Styles (cont.)
  • Mixed Punctuationincludes the following:
    • Colon after Attention in the attention line
    • Colon after the salutation
    • Comma after the complimentary closing
    • Colon or period after the enclosure notation
    • Colon after the copy notation




letter format
Margins: One inch on the left and right for 8 ½-inch wide paper

Letter should be centered on the page

Single-space body of letter and double-space between paragraphs

Short sentences with no more than 20 words on an average

Letter Format
letter format cont
Letter Format (cont.)
  • Have at least two or three sentences per paragraph
  • Divide paragraphs longer than 10 lines into shorter paragraphs
  • For multipage letters, use letterhead for first page only
apply your knowledge1
Apply Your Knowledge


What should the medical assistant do if a mailing is to be sent to an organization to request x-ray films, but no specific name or title is given to address it to? Which of the following would you use?

  • To Whom It May Concern
  • Attention: To Whom It May Concern
  • Dear Sir/Madam
  • Dear Radiology Department


effective writing
Identify your reading audience

Tone of letter (formal or relaxed)

Know the purpose of the letter

Be clear and concise

Don’t use unnecessary words

Message should be easily understood

Use active voice when possible

Passive voice is best when relaying negative news

Effective Writing
effective writing cont
Effective Writing (cont.)
  • Be polite and courteous
  • Check
    • Spelling
    • Accuracy of dates and monetary figures
    • Grammar
  • Avoid leaving “widows and orphans” (dangling words and phrases)
interoffice memorandum memo

Word processing software has templates

Facilitate informal written communication within an office

Interoffice Memorandum (Memo)
apply your knowledge2
Apply Your Knowledge

All professional correspondence must be written in a way that conveys information clearly. What do you need to know when preparing to write any form of office communication?

ANSWER: You must know who you are writing to, i.e., a physician, patient, vendor, or fellow staff member.

Good Job!

editing and proofreading

Check for

Factual accuracy

Logical flow





Check for errors




Have another person proofread if possible

Editing and Proofreading

NEVER skip editing and proofreading steps!

editing and proofreading cont
Editing and Proofreading(cont.)

Tools for Editing and Proofreading


Physician’s Desk Reference (PDR)

English grammar and

usage manual


Medical dictionary

Word processing spell checker

  • Editing ensures that documents are
    • Accurate
    • Clear
    • Complete
    • Free of grammatical errors
    • Logically organized
    • Written in appropriate style
editing cont
Editing (cont.)
  • Language usage
    • Learn basic grammar rules
    • Ask: “Is this the best way to convey what I want to say?”
  • Style
    • Appropriate to reader
editing cont1
Editing (cont.)
  • Content - logical flow of thought
    • State purpose
    • Discuss one topic at a time
    • Change paragraphs when changing topics
    • List events in chronological order
    • Stick to subject
    • Select words carefully
    • Proofread what you write
  • Proofread and put aside
  • Have coworker proofread document
  • Three types of errors
    • Formatting
    • Data
    • Mechanical
proofreading cont
Proofreading (cont.)
  • Formatting errors
    • Positioning parts of a letter
    • Indenting, line length, line spacing
    • Avoid by following office style
  • Data errors
    • Mistyping monetary figures
    • Avoid by double-checking figures or having someone else check them


proofreading cont1
Proofreading (cont.)
  • Mechanical errors
    • Spelling, punctuation, spacing between words, division of words
    • Be sure word processing spell checker has medical terminology
    • Avoid mechanical errors
      • Learn basic spelling, punctuation, and word division rules
      • Check for transposed characters or words
      • Avoid dividing words at the end of a line
apply your knowledge3
Apply Your Knowledge

Nice Work!

A letter must be sent to current employees that have exceeded their number of absences according to office policy. Which of the following would be most appropriate?

  • Dear _____, The attendance policy of this office requires that….
  • Dear _____, You have violated the attendance policy of this ….
  • Dear _____, Are you aware that you have missed “X” days….

ANSWER: This correspondence must communicate the facts in a soft manner while getting the point across. The first response begins with identifying the “fact” or policy, followed by the individual’s performance, and is less subjective or punitive.

preparing outgoing mail
Preparing Outgoing Mail
  • Signing letters
    • If you sign for the doctor, place your initials after the doctor’s signature
  • Preparing the envelope
    • Use USPS guidelines for addressingenvelopes
      • Address placement
      • Address format
preparing outgoing mail cont
Preparing Outgoing Mail (cont.)
  • Folding and inserting the mail
    • Type of envelope determines theway a letter should be folded
      • Small envelope – fold letter in half
      • Business-size envelope – fold in thirds (fold bottom up then top down)
      • Window envelope – accordion fold so address appears in the window
    • Be sure letters are signed and all enclosures are included
    • Be sure address on letter matches envelope
apply your knowledge4
Apply Your Knowledge

How should you prepare envelopes for mailing office correspondence?

ANSWER: When preparing envelopes for mailing office correspondence, you should use USPS guidelines.

  • Stamp of Approval!
mailing equipment and supplies
Mailing Equipment and Supplies
  • Letterhead, blank stationery, envelopes
  • Available from USPS, private delivery companies, and office supply stores
    • Forms
    • Labels
    • Packaging supplies
mailing equipment and supplies cont
Mailing Equipment and Supplies(cont.)
  • Airmail supplies
    • Letters and packages must be labeled “AIRMAIL” on all sides
    • Available for mail to foreign countries
  • Envelopes for overnight delivery services
    • USPS and other companies require the use of their own mailing materials for next-day delivery
mailing equipment and supplies cont1
Mailing Equipment and Supplies(cont.)
  • Postal rates, scales, and meters
    • Rates and regulations change periodically, so keep current rates on-hand at the medical office
apply your knowledge5

Good Answer!

Apply Your Knowledge

In addition to letterhead, blank stationary, and envelopes, what other mailing supplies might be needed for a medical office?

ANSWER: A medical office may need forms, labels, and packaging supplies for items needing special attention.

usps regular mail service
First-class mail

Must weigh no more than 11 oz.

Cost is based on weight

Mail is forwarded at no extra cost

Media mail (Third-Class Mail)

Book rate mail

Books, catalogues

Weight of less than 16 ounces

Authorized mailers

USPS – Regular Mail Service
usps regular mail service cont
Parcel Post (Fourth-Class Mail)

Used for items weighing between 1 lb. and 70 lb.

Rates are based on weight and distance

Bound Printed Material (Special Fourth-class mail)

Used for promotional advertising and directories

No personal correspondence

Bulk rates

USPS – Regular Mail Service (cont.)
usps regular mail service cont1
Priority Mail

Useful for heavier items requiring faster delivery

USPS offers a flat rate for any items that can fit into the priority envelope

USPS guarantees delivery within 2–3 days

Express Mail

The quickest service

Delivery service available every day

Rates vary with weight

Items automatically insured against loss or damage

Special flat rate also available

USPS – Regular Mail Service (cont.)
usps special postal services
USPS – Special Postal Services
  • Online postage
  • Special delivery
    • Deliveries made before regular mail delivery
    • Limited hours and distance limits availability
  • Certified mail
    • Offers a guarantee that the item has been received
    • Requires signature of recipient
usps special postal services cont
USPS – Special Postal Services (cont.)
  • Return receipt requested
    • Offers proof of who received the item and when they received it
  • Registered mail
    • Used to send valuable, important items
    • Evidence provided of mailing and delivery to sender
    • First-class and priority mail can be registered
  • Delivery confirmation
usps special postal services cont1
International mail

USPS offers surface and airmail services to most foreign countries

International mail classes are similar to domestic mail classes

Tracing mail

Service used if a piece of certified or registered mail does not reach its destination on time

The original receipt must be presented to locate the item

USPS – Special Postal Services (cont.)
apply your knowledge6
Apply Your Knowledge

Confidential laboratory results

Signed and dated contract materials

Patient invoice and billing statements

111 One Drive

Any, ST 11111

Which type of mail would you use to send each of the following:


C or D

C or D


A. First class mail

B. Priority Mail

C. Certified mail

D. Registered mail


processing incoming mail






Processing Incoming Mail


processing incoming mail cont
Processing Incoming Mail (cont.)
  • Sort and Open
    • Mail is often sorted according to its priority
      • Urgent, registered mail, etc.
      • Personal or confidential mail
      • First class, airmail, and Priority Mail
      • Packages
      • Magazines and newspapers
      • Advertisements and catalogues
    • Do not open personal mail without permission
processing incoming mail cont1
Record – daily mail log

Mail received

Follow-up correspondence


Outline key points

Write reminders, comments, or suggestions


Deliver items to mail recipients

Processing Incoming Mail (cont.)
processing incoming mail cont2
Processing Incoming Mail(cont.)

Handling Drug and Product Samples


  • Place only nonprescription products in patient areas according to office policy
  • Sort and store other prescription items in locked cabinet
  • Destroy outdated samples properly


  • Give patients samples without the physician approval
  • Fail to document in patient record when samples are given per the physician’s request
  • Discard medication samples in trash cans or flush down sink or toilet
apply your knowledge7
Apply Your Knowledge

What are the steps for processing incoming mail?

  • ANSWER: The steps for processing incoming mail are
    • Sorting
    • Opening
    • Recording
    • Annotating
    • Distributing


in summary
7.2 Medical assistants may be responsible for preparing

Routine correspondence

Letters of referrals

Scheduling letters

Reports to insurance companies

Instructions for exams and lab reports

In Summary

7.1 Choose the right supplies for professional looking office correspondence.

  • Letterhead
  • Envelopes, labels
  • Invoices
in summary cont



Subject line

Attention line

Body of letter

Complimentary closing

Signature block

Identification line


  • Letter styles
    • Full-block
    • Modified-block
    • Modified block with indented paragraphs
    • Simplified
  • Punctuation styles
    • Open
    • Mixed
In Summary (cont.)

7.3 Business letters

in summary cont1
In Summary (cont.)

7.4 Medical assistants should proofread and edit correspondence they create.

7.5 Keep reference tools available when editing and proofreading.

7.6 The processing incoming and outgoing mail includes properly sorting, opening, recording, annotating, and distributing the mail.

7.7 The United States Postal Service offers a variety of services for letters and packages and can now compete with other mail and package delivery services.

end of chapter 7
End of Chapter 7

If a fellow wants to be a nobody in the business world, let him neglect sending the mailman to somebody on his behalf.

—Abraham Lincoln