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TEACH Lesson Plan Manual for Kinn’s The Medical Assistant: An Applied Learning Approach 12 th edition. Chapter 9 Telephone Techniques. Telephone Use in the Medical Office. Define , spell, and pronounce the terms listed in the vocabulary.

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TEACH Lesson Plan Manual for Kinn’s The Medical Assistant: An Applied Learning Approach

12th edition

Chapter 9

Telephone Techniques

telephone use in the medical office
Telephone Use in the Medical Office

Define, spell, and pronounce the terms listed in the vocabulary.

Determine and discuss the source of incoming and outgoing calls to a physician’s office.

Describe how to develop a pleasing telephone voice.

Explain why courtesy is so important when speaking on the telephone.

Demonstrate the correct way to hold a telephone handset.

Lesson 9.1

telephone use in the medical office1
Telephone Use in the Medical Office

Demonstrate the correct way to answer the telephone in the office.

Discuss different ways to handle callers who want to speak to the physician.

List the seven elements of a correctly handled telephone message.

Demonstrate the correct way to record a message accurately and take a request for action.

Demonstrate the most efficient way to call in a prescription or a prescription refill to a pharmacy.

Lesson 9.1

  • Sources of most calls
    • Established patients
    • New patients
    • Reports of treatment results or emergencies
    • Physician referrals
    • Laboratory results
    • Pharmacies and patients for prescription refills
pleasing telephone voice
Pleasing Telephone Voice
  • Use proper enunciation, diction, pitch, and clarity
  • Use pleasant inflection with friendly, warm tone
  • Use courtesy and tact
  • Avoid medical jargon and use correct grammar
telephone handset
Telephone Handset
  • Handset mouthpiece should be 1 inch from lips and directly in front of teeth
  • Speak directly into mouthpiece of headset, same distance as handset
maintaining confidentiality
Maintaining Confidentiality
  • All communications are confidential
  • Use discretion when mentioning names, symptoms, or other information
  • Never use speaker phone
thinking ahead
Thinking Ahead
  • Before a call, have all necessary information ready
  • Have pen and pad ready to take notes
  • Write down list of questions or goals for conversation
  • List of frequently called numbers saves time
answering promptly
Answering Promptly
  • Answer quickly and always by third ring
  • With multiple lines, place first call on hold long enough to ask second caller to hold
  • If emergency, let others on hold know they may have to wait or be called back
  • Do not multitask while on a phone call
identifying the facility
Identifying the Facility
  • Identify facility first
  • Say your name
  • Choose a greeting and practice saying it
identifying the caller
Identifying the Caller
  • If caller does not identify self, ask who is calling
  • Write name down immediately
  • Try to use caller’s name at least three times during conversation
  • Handle callers who will not identify selves according to office policy
screening incoming calls
Screening Incoming Calls
  • Learn physician's preferences for receiving calls or returning later
  • Explain that physician will return calls as soon as possible
  • Provide approximate time frame for when caller can expect to hear back
  • Ask for phone number of caller
  • Record messages accurately and document calls
minimizing wait time
Minimizing Wait Time
  • Keep callers on hold as short a time as possible
  • Once per minute, check back in with patient holding for physician
  • Offer to have call returned, rather than wait on hold
  • Always thank caller for waiting
transferring a call
Transferring a Call
  • Ask permission when placing caller on hold and to transfer calls
  • Identify caller to person receiving transferred call
  • If unavailable, ask caller if he or she would prefer to leave a voice mail or take a message
  • Know how to direct calls to appropriate staff member
taking a telephone message
Taking a Telephone Message
  • Use message pad or computer system to record the following:
    • Name of call recipient
    • Name of caller
    • All contact numbers for caller
    • Reason for call
    • Action to be taken
    • Date and time of call
    • Initials of person taking call 
taking action on messages
Taking Action on Messages
  • Message procedure incomplete until necessary action is taken
  • Add notation to carry over to next day, if necessary
  • Note patients’ attitudes if significant, to help physician when returning call
ending a call
Ending a Call
  • End calls promptly
  • Thank caller, close conversation with a form of goodbye
  • Allow caller to hang up first
retaining records of telephone messages
Retaining Records of Telephone Messages
  • Office should have policy on retention of message records
  • Electronic systems should send directly to medical record
  • Keep handwritten message pads for period of statute of limitations
  • Clear set of directions written out to read to caller, if requested
  • Prepare directions from various points in the area
  • Place map on office Web site for patients to print
  • Do not refer to Internet mapping site
inquiries about bills
Inquiries about Bills
  • If patient calls with billing question, obtain ledger from computer or files
  • If routine, ask if you can help answer the question
  • Arrange payment plan and note call in medical record
  • Refer to billing office if necessary
inquiries about fees
Inquiries about Fees
  • Give estimates of fees before patient sees physician
  • Follow estimates by stating that fees vary depending on patient’s condition and tests ordered
  • Have schedule of fees available
participating provider
Participating Provider
  • Patients call to inquire if physician is a participating provider with their insurance plan or managed care organization
  • Keep updated list of valid plans by phone
requests for assistance with insurance
Requests for Assistance with Insurance
  • Medical facility typically files insurance claims
  • Patients may call to require about claim status
  • Answer inquiries patiently and provide help
radiology and laboratory reports
Radiology and Laboratory Reports
  • Urgent reports may be faxed, telephoned, or emailed to physician’s office
  • Relay reports to physician
  • If marked STAT, physician wants results immediately
satisfactory progress reports
Satisfactory Progress Reports
  • Physician may ask patient to report on condition a few days after visit
  • Take calls and relay information to physician if report is satisfactory
  • Immediately inform physician if report is unsatisfactory
routine reports from hospitals
Routine Reports from Hospitals
  • Hospitals and other sources may call to report a patient’s progress
  • Take message carefully and give to physician
office administration matters
Office Administration Matters
  • Calls may not refer to patients
  • Accountant, auditor, office suppliers, office maintenance, etc.
  • Handle calls or refer to appropriate person
requests for referrals
Requests for Referrals
  • May be handled without consulting physician, if a list of referral practitioners is provided
  • If insurance plan requires a written referral, physician must handle
    • Most physicians require office visit to discuss referral
    • Then call referral physician and notify of referral
  • Document all referrals in medical record
prescription refills
Prescription Refills
  • Pharmacies call to obtain approval for patient’s refill
  • Any refills should be authorized only with physician's approval
  • Check with physician and call back
  • Some medications require written prescription
patients refusing to discuss symptoms
Patients Refusing to Discuss Symptoms
  • Some patients may insist on only discussing symptoms with physician over phone
  • If patient refuses, suggest he or she make appointment to discuss in person with physician
unsatisfactory progress reports
Unsatisfactory Progress Reports
  • Do not give medical advice to patients
  • Make detailed notes about patient’s unsatisfactory progress
  • Present notes to physician
  • Follow up with patient with physician’s instructions
requests for test results
Requests for Test Results
  • Patients call for test results
  • Physician must see results and give permission to share results with patient
  • Only provide abnormal test results if authorized, and give further instructions
  • Refer any questions to physician
requests for test results cont d
Requests for Test Results, cont’d
  • Schedule appointment with physician for serious abnormal results
    • These types of results best relayed in person
  • Identify patient properly before giving results
  • Patient must give written permission before any information may be given to third-party callers
complaints about care or fees
Complaints about Care or Fees
  • Explain charges by reviewing bill with patient
  • If patient is angry, offer to pull chart, research problem, and discuss with physician
  • Reassure patient you want to help
personal calls
Personal Calls
  • Personal calls to physician
    • Handle according to physician’s instructions and be tactful
  • Personal calls to staff
    • Only take personal calls in case of emergency
specialty calls telephone services and equipment
Specialty Calls, Telephone Services, and Equipment

Explain how angry callers might be handled.

Discuss how the medical assistant should handle callers who have a complaint.

List several questions to ask when handling an emergency call.

Discuss several useful sections of the introductory pages of the phone directory.

Lesson 9.2

angry callers
Angry Callers
  • Take required action
  • Acknowledge importance of call and reassure caller of your assistance
  • Lower tone of voice and volume to encourage calm manner
  • Avoid getting angry and try to get to root of real problem
  • Express interest, take careful notes, and follow through
aggressive callers
Aggressive Callers
  • Insist they receive whatever action they feel necessary immediately
  • Treat them with calm, poised attitude
  • Do not let aggression force you to take inappropriate action
  • Explain when caller can expect a response from office
  • Follow up that appropriate action was taken
unauthorized inquiry and sales calls
Unauthorized Inquiry and Sales Calls
  • Callers requesting information to which they are not entitled should be politely denied
  • Keep sales calls quick
  • Know which companies and reps office works with
physician shopping
Physician Shopping
  • Prospective patients call seeking information about medical office
  • May want to know physician’s background before selecting the office
  • Be polite and answer questions respectfully
  • Find source of problem and present options to caller for resolution
  • Treat callers in same way you would wish to be treated
  • Complaint may seem small to you, but is paramount to patient
  • Good customer service remedies many complaints
callers with difficulty communicating
Callers with Difficulty Communicating
  • If callers are not primarily English speakers, they may be difficult to understand
    • Use listening skills to understand
    • Ask questions to be sure you understand
emergency calls
Emergency Calls
  • Require good judgment from person answering calls
  • Know what constitutes a real emergency and how to handle it
  • Never hang up on emergency until help arrives
  • Urgent calls require prompt attention but are not life-threatening
  • Policies and procedures manual should dictate what to do
emergency calls cont d
Emergency Calls, cont’d
  • Emergency calls may need to be transferred to physician if possible
  • Written plan of action in case physician is not available to handle call
  • Develop typical questions to ask caller to determine nature of emergency
screening guidelines
Screening Guidelines
  • One person may be designated to screen calls
  • Written telephone protocol should dictate how to handle urgent and emergency situations
  • Emergencies should be transferred to physician
obtaining information for physician
Obtaining Information for Physician
  • Duration of symptoms
  • Remedies tried at home
  • Specifics about symptoms
typical outgoing calls
Typical Outgoing Calls
  • Most are responses to incoming calls
  • Plan outgoing calls in advance
  • Organizing calls increases efficiency
voice mail
Voice Mail
  • Around-the-clock method to receive patient messages
  • Answer voice mails messages promptly
answering services
Answering Services
  • Provide an operator to answer calls when office is closed
  • May also answer when office is open, but staff cannot answer a call
  • Check in with answering service each evening and morning
automatic routing and call forwarding
Automatic Routing and Call Forwarding
  • Automatic call routing has automated message with list of options to route calls
  • Call forwarding allows user to forward calls to another number to prevent missing important calls while away
caller id and blocking
Caller ID and Blocking
  • Caller ID allows user to see who is calling before picking up
  • Caller ID blocking blocks calls from unknown numbers
fax machines
Fax Machines
  • Allow user to send and receive copies of printed documents over telephone lines
  • Protect confidentiality by using cover sheets and alerting recipient fax is coming
  • Keep hands free while talking on phone
  • Many are lightweight and made for mobility
long distance and special services
Long-Distance and Special Services
  • Efficient way to get information quickly
  • Directory assistance can provide numbers
  • Internet searches are a free way to obtain numbers
  • Consider the different time zones before placing calls
international service
International Service
  • International Direct Distance Dialing (IDDD)
    • International code 011
    • Country code
    • City code
    • Local telephone number
    • The pound sign (#) button if the telephone is touchtone
conference calls
Conference Calls
  • Connect numerous points for a conference
  • Each person can hear or talk to all others participating
  • Set up by a normal long distance operator or through conference call services
  • Schedule a call by relaying pertinent information about time, date, and the individuals included
operator assisted calls and services
Operator-Assisted Calls and Services
  • Person to person
  • Billing to a third party
  • Collect calls
  • Requests for time and charges
  • Certain calls placed from hotels
  • Credit for wrong numbers
  • Conference calls
  • Some international calls
number and placement of telephones
Number and Placement of Telephones
  • Know how to use multiple-line systems
  • Place phones where accessible but private
  • Courtesy phone for patients to use upon request
using a telephone directory
Using a Telephone Directory
  • Primary purpose is to provide lists of those who have telephones, their telephone numbers, and in most cases their addresses
  • Aid in checking spelling of names and in locating certain businesses
    • Introductory pages
    • Alphabetic pages (white pages)
    • Yellow pages
personal phone directory
Personal Phone Directory
  • Include all numbers frequently called
  • Emergency numbers might be typed on a colored card or flagged with a colored tab
identifying community resources
Identifying Community Resources
  • Keep a list of community resources that might be of assistance to patients
  • Information can be found in first few sections of telephone book
patient education
Patient Education
  • Recordings that offer health information can play while patients wait on hold
  • Messages about special events can be announced
  • Phone directories can offer listings of health information
legal and ethical issues
Legal and Ethical Issues
  • Take care that no one overhears sensitive information while on the phone
  • Do not place or receive personal phone calls during work hours
  • Telephone and message records may be brought into court as evidence
  • Make sure all messages are complete and legible