Written Communications and Mail Processing. Chapter 13. Introduction. Written communications are a reflection of the physician and his or her office staff. All written communications should be professional, accurate, complete, and effective in getting across the intended message.
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Written Communications and Mail Processing Chapter 13
Introduction Written communications are a reflection of the physician and his or her office staff. All written communications should be professional, accurate, complete, and effective in getting across the intended message.
This chapter will examine: • Responsibilities of the medical assistant with regard to equipment and supplies • Common sizes of letterhead stationery • Parts of speech • References for the medical assistant’s library • Answering business correspondence • Value of communications portfolios • Letter styles and parts of a business letter
Importance of Written Communications • Promotes a good impression of the physician and the office staff • Enhances the art of effective communication • Promotes better healthcare by providing accurate information about and to the patient
Types of Written Communications • Letters • Memorandums • Orders for supplies • Email • Facsimiles • Medical records • Instructions for patients
Writing Skills and Composing Tips for Business Letters • Keep the length to about one page. • Carefully organize the letter. • Read the letter several times to determine what needs to be addressed in the answer. • Highlight questions asked or materials requested. • Decide on answers to questions. • Verify information.
More Writing Tips • Keep sentences short. • Put only one idea in each sentence. • Eliminate superfluous wording. • Use layman’s terms. • Match the physician’s degree of formality.
Sentence Errors Three main errors in sentences: • Sentence fragment • Run-on sentence • Comma splice
Letter Styles Four basic styles • Block • Modified block or standard • Modified block indented • Simplified
Block Letter Style • All lines flush to the left margin • Very efficient • Less attractive
Modified Block Letter Style • Dateline, complimentary closing, and typewritten signature all begin at the center. • All other lines begin flush with the left margin.
Modified Block with Indented Paragraphs • Identical to block except that the first line of each paragraph is indented five spaces.
Simplified • All lines flush with the left margin. • Salutation replaced with all-capital subject line on the third line below the subject line. • Omit the complimentary closing. • Enter an all-capital typewritten signature below the body of the letter.
Spacing and Margins • Business letters are usually single-spaced. • First typed entry goes on the third line below the letterhead. • Typing on continuation pages begins 1 inch from the top. • Side margins 1 to 1½ inches on each side. • Minimum of 1-inch margin on the bottom.
Parts of Letters • Heading • Opening • Body • Closing
Heading • Includes letterhead and dateline. • Usually centered at the top of the page. • Includes the name of the physician or group and the address. • Usually includes the telephone number and medical specialties. • Dateline consists of the name of the month written in full, the day, and the year.
Opening Consists of inside address, salutation, and the optional attention line. Inside address • Starts flush with left margin • Contains name and address of the person to whom the letter is addressed
Opening • Use courtesy titles. • Follow names with academic degrees. • Do not use both a courtesy title and a degree that means the same thing. Incorrect: Dr. Rick Tips, M.D. Correct: Dr. Rick Tips Rick Tips, M.D.
Opening Salutation • Introductory greeting • Flush with left margin • Second line below last line of address • Usually followed by a colon
Opening Attention line • Optional • Flush with left margin • Second line below inside address
Body • If used, subject line is placed on the second line below the salutation. • Includes message of the letter.
Closing Includes: • Complimentary closing • Typed signature • Reference initials • Special notations
Postscripts • Place emphasis on an idea or statement. • May express an afterthought. • Follow letter style when using postscripts.
Continuation Pages Heading for continuation pages includes: • Name of the addressee • Page number • Date Headings begin on the seventh line from the top of the page.
Physician usually signs: Letters with medical advice Letters to medical societies Referral and consultation reports Medical reports to insurance companies Personal letters Medical Assistant signs: Routine letters Orders for office supplies Notifications to patients about surgery or hospital arrangements Collection letters Letters of solicitation Signing the Letter
More Types of Written Communications Telephone messages • Name of the person being called • Name of person calling • Caller’s contact telephone numbers • Reason for the call • Action to be taken • Date and time of call • Initials of person taking the call
More Types of Written Communications • Email messages • Faxes • Memorandums
Developing a Portfolio • Consists of sample letters that are used in various situations. • Letters can be added to the portfolio when created. • Store letters on the computer and make changes as necessary. • Saves time when composing correspondence.
U.S. Postal Service • Independent establishment of the executive branch of the U.S. government • Operates independently of the government • Second oldest federally established department or agency in the United States
Mail Processing Incoming mail usually includes: • General correspondence • Payments for services • Bills for office purchases • Insurance claim forms to be completed • Laboratory reports • Hospital reports • Medical society mailings • Professional journals • Promotional literature and advertising
Opening the Mail • Follow office policy. • Do not open mail that is marked “personal.” • Use a methodic system to open and process mail efficiently.
Annotating • Read each item of mail. • Underline significant words or phrases. • Note in the margin what action needs to be taken. • Code for filing if the letter needs no reply.
Responding to Mail • Read through the annotations. • Draft a reply. • Review the original letter, and make certain that all issues have been addressed. • Allow the physician to review the reply, if necessary. • Make a copy for the appropriate file. • Send the correspondence.
Mail Requiring Special Handling • Payment receipts • Insurance information • Drug samples • Vacation mail
Handling Vacation Mail Determine: • Is this important enough that the physician should be contacted? • Should it be forwarded for immediate attention? • Should it be answered now, explaining the delay because the physician is out of the office? • Can the mail wait for attention until the physician returns?
Outgoing Mail • Fold and insert letters correctly. • Address the envelopes accurately. • Follow OCR guidelines on envelopes. • Always use a return address.
Cost-Saving Mailing Procedures • Use ZIP codes. • Presort mail. • Use correct postage. • Take advantage of bulk mail if possible. Bulk mail is a form of mailing large volumes of information which is presorted by zip code.
Postage Meters • Most efficient way of stamping mail. Can print postage on adhesive strips or directly on the envelope. • Metered mail does not have to be canceled or postmarked, so it moves faster to its destination.
Classifications of Mail Express Mail • Available 7 days a week, 365 days a year • Sunday and holiday delivery between major markets • For items up to 70 lb and 108 inches in combined length and girth • Fastest mail service offered by the USPS
Classifications of Mail First-class mail • Letters, postal cards, postcards, and business reply mail. • 13 oz or less. • Current first-class mail rate is $0.41.
Classifications of Mail Priority Mail • First-class mail over 13 oz. • Maximum weight 70 lb. • Always mark packages as priority mail if not placed in a box purchased from USPS.
Classifications of Mail Bound printed matter • Advertising, promotional, directory, or editorial material • Must be securely bound • Cannot have the nature of personal correspondence • Cannot be over 15 lb
Media mail Books Film Manuscripts Printed music Printed test materials Sound recordings Play scripts Printed educational charts Binders and loose-leaf papers Includes computer recorded media, such as CDs and diskettes. Media mail cannot contain advertising or weight over 70 lb. Classifications of Mail
Special Services Insured mail • Insurance for coverage against loss or damages • Available for priority mail, first-class mail, parcel post
Special Services Registered/Certified mail • Additional protection for all classes of mail. • Sender can request evidence/proof of delivery. • Registered mail can be traced. • Accounted for by number from time of mailing to time of delivery.
Special Services Postal money orders • Convenient way of mailing money • Amounts up to $700