As a healthcare provider, you know that new patients are the lifeblood of your practice. But are you sure you’re making the right impression on potential patients who call seeking information? With over 100,000+ phone conversations between our virtual assistants and prospective patients, and with years of experience calling new patients daily, we’ve gained valuable insights into how to handle new patient calls effectively. We’ve distilled this knowledge into 10 crucial lessons that every healthcare provider should keep in mind. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to make a positive impact on every new patient call!
Lesson 1: First Impressions Matter
First impressions matter a lot in the healthcare industry. Patients expect to receive top-quality care and customer service from their healthcare providers, which starts with the first point of contact, such as answering phone calls.
Importance of answering phone calls promptly
Answering phone calls promptly is crucial for creating a positive first impression of your practice. Patients who call your practice expect to have their calls answered by a live person, not a voicemail system. When patients are greeted by a live person who answers their call quickly, it sends a message that their needs are important and that they will receive prompt attention.
Positive and engaging tone of voice
In addition to answering calls promptly, the tone of voice used when speaking to patients is equally important. A positive and engaging tone of voice can help establish rapport and trust with patients. Using a friendly and warm tone of voice can help patients feel more comfortable and confident in your ability to provide high-quality care.
It’s important to remember that the way you communicate with patients over the phone can impact their overall perception of your practice. By answering calls promptly and using a positive tone of voice, you can create a positive first impression and set the tone for a great patient experience.
Lesson 2: Be Prepared to Answer Questions
Answering questions is a crucial part of patient care, and being prepared to do so can help build trust and rapport with patients. Here are two sub-lessons on how to effectively answer patient questions:
Importance of knowing your practice’s key selling points
Knowing your practice’s unique selling points can help you answer patient questions more effectively. Whether it’s a specialized service or a unique approach to care, understanding what sets your practice apart from others in the area can help you answer patient questions and concerns with confidence. This can also help you to better communicate your value proposition to potential patients.
Anticipating common patient questions
One of the best ways to prepare for patient questions is to anticipate them in advance. Take some time to think about the most common questions patients ask and develop responses that are clear, concise, and easy to understand. This can include questions about insurance coverage, appointment scheduling, and your approach to care. Being prepared with answers to these questions can help you to appear knowledgeable and trustworthy to your patients.
Lesson 3: Don’t Rush the Call
When a patient calls your practice, it’s important to give them your full attention and not rush the conversation. Taking the time to listen to their concerns and answer their questions can make all the difference in building a positive patient-provider relationship.
Allowing the patient to ask questions and speak at their own pace
One of the key ways to avoid rushing a call is by allowing the patient to speak at their own pace and ask any questions they may have. It’s important to resist the urge to interrupt or finish their sentences, as this can come across as dismissive or uninterested.
The importance of active listening
Active listening is an essential skill for any healthcare provider, especially when it comes to phone calls with patients. It involves not only hearing what the patient is saying but also paying attention to their tone of voice, body language (if visible on a video call), and any underlying concerns they may have. By actively listening to the patient, you can address their concerns more effectively and build a stronger patient-provider relationship.
Lesson 4: Building Rapport with Patients
Building rapport with patients is an essential aspect of providing quality healthcare. When patients feel comfortable and trust their healthcare providers, they are more likely to follow through with treatment plans and engage in open communication. Here are two sub-lessons that can help healthcare providers build rapport with their patients:
Finding common ground with the patient
One of the best ways to build rapport with patients is to find common ground with them. This could be a shared interest, a similar background or culture, or a mutual friend or colleague. By showing patients that you have something in common with them, you are demonstrating that you understand and relate to them on a personal level.
Being empathetic and understanding
Another key to building rapport with patients is being empathetic and understanding. Patients want to feel like their healthcare provider cares about their well-being and is invested in their health journey. Healthcare providers should take the time to listen to their patients’ concerns, validate their feelings, and offer support and encouragement. By showing empathy and understanding, healthcare providers can build trust and a positive relationship with their patients.
Lesson 5: Provide Clear Information
Effective communication is essential for building a strong patient-provider relationship. Providing clear information can help patients understand their medical condition, treatment options, and medication regimens. Here are two sub-lessons on how to provide clear information during patient interactions.
Simplify Medical Terms and Avoid Jargon
When discussing medical conditions, treatments, or medications, it’s essential to use simple and clear language. Medical jargon and technical terms can be confusing and overwhelming for patients, leading to misunderstandings and potential non-adherence to treatment plans. Instead, healthcare providers should use layman’s terms and avoid using medical jargon when communicating with patients. This will help patients understand their medical conditions and treatment options better.
Repeat Important Information
Another best practice for providing clear information is to repeat important information. Patients may be overwhelmed during a medical appointment or may not fully understand the information presented to them. Repetition can help reinforce important information and ensure that patients understand what they need to do to manage their medical conditions. Healthcare providers should ask patients if they have any questions and encourage them to ask for clarification if needed. Additionally, providers should provide written instructions or educational materials to help patients retain important information.
Lesson 6: Handling Patient Complaints and Concerns
Patients may sometimes have complaints and concerns about their care or experience with the practice. Handling these complaints and concerns effectively is essential for maintaining a good relationship with patients.
Active listening and acknowledging the patient’s concerns
One of the most important aspects of handling patient complaints and concerns is to actively listen to the patient and acknowledge their concerns. When a patient feels like they are being heard, they are more likely to feel satisfied with the outcome. Healthcare providers should let the patient express their concerns without interrupting them or becoming defensive. They should also show empathy and understanding to the patient’s situation.
Providing reassurance and solutions
After actively listening to the patient’s concerns, healthcare providers should provide reassurance and solutions to address the issue. The solution should be tailored to the specific concern and the patient’s needs. Sometimes, a simple apology and explanation may suffice. In other cases, more extensive solutions may be needed, such as offering additional follow-up appointments or referring the patient to a specialist. Regardless of the solution, healthcare providers should communicate the steps they will take to resolve the issue and ensure the patient feels heard and valued. It is also important to follow up with the patient after the issue has been resolved to ensure they are satisfied with the outcome.
Lesson 7: Call to Action
As a healthcare provider, your ultimate goal is to provide quality care to your patients. But to do that, you need to get them through the door. In this lesson, we’ll explore how to effectively encourage patients to book appointments with you and what to do if they don’t.
Encouraging patients to book an appointment
Encouraging patients to book appointments is crucial to the success of your practice. One of the best ways to do this is by being proactive. You can do this by reminding them of upcoming appointments or reaching out to patients who are overdue for a check-up. Another effective strategy is to make the appointment booking process as easy and convenient as possible. This can be achieved by offering online booking or extending your office hours to accommodate busy schedules.
Following up with patients who don’t book an appointment
Not every patient you speak with will book an appointment right away. However, it’s important to follow up with those who express interest but don’t commit. Following up shows that you care and are invested in their health. You can do this by sending an email or making a phone call to remind them of your services and encourage them to book an appointment. This not only increases the likelihood of them booking an appointment with you, but it also helps to establish a positive and trusting relationship with them.
Lesson 8: Keep it Professional
When handling patient calls, it’s essential to maintain a professional demeanor to ensure that patients feel respected and valued. Here are some sub-lessons to consider when keeping it professional on the phone:
Staying on topic and avoiding small talk
While it’s important to build rapport with patients, it’s equally important to stay on topic and avoid small talk that may waste the patient’s time. Keep the conversation focused on the patient’s concerns and medical needs, and avoid discussing irrelevant topics such as the weather or personal interests.
Avoiding negative comments about competitors or past experiences
Patients may inquire about your practice’s competitors or past experiences with other healthcare providers. It’s essential to avoid making negative comments about competitors or past experiences. Instead, focus on the positive aspects of your practice and the unique services you offer. This will help build patient confidence in your practice and position you as a trustworthy and professional healthcare provider.
Lesson 9: Follow Up
Patients appreciate being remembered and valued after their appointment. Following up is a great way to establish a stronger doctor-patient relationship and show that you care about their well-being. Here are some tips on how to effectively follow up with patients:
- Send a personalized thank-you note: A simple note thanking the patient for their visit and expressing your appreciation for their trust can go a long way in building a lasting relationship.
- Follow up on test results: If the patient had any tests done, it’s important to follow up with them to discuss the results and answer any questions they may have.
- Check-in after a procedure: If the patient had a procedure done, make sure to follow up with them to see how they are feeling and if they have any concerns or questions.
- Send appointment reminders: Sending appointment reminders can help reduce no-shows and ensure that patients attend their scheduled appointments.
- Utilize patient portals: Patient portals are a great way to follow up with patients and allow them to access their medical records, communicate with their doctor, and receive reminders for future appointments.
By following up with your patients, you can establish a more meaningful relationship with them and show that you care about their health and well-being.
Lesson 10: Keep Improving
As a healthcare provider, it is important to continuously evaluate and improve your practice’s new patient call process. This not only helps to ensure that patients are receiving the best possible experience, but it can also have a positive impact on your practice’s reputation and bottom line. Here are two key ways to keep improving:
Continuously reviewing and improving your new patient call process
One of the best ways to improve your new patient call process is by regularly reviewing and assessing your current practices. This can involve analyzing metrics like call volume, call length, and appointment conversion rates to identify areas for improvement. For example, if you find that many calls are being dropped or patients are frequently placed on hold, you may need to consider adding additional phone lines or hiring additional staff to handle the volume. Additionally, it can be helpful to listen to recorded calls to identify specific areas where your team can improve, such as using more positive language or clarifying key information.
Encouraging feedback from patients and staff
Another way to improve your new patient call process is by encouraging feedback from both patients and staff. Patients can provide valuable insights into their experience calling your practice, including any areas where they felt confused or frustrated. This feedback can help you identify specific areas where your team may need additional training or support. Additionally, your staff can provide valuable insights into the challenges they face when handling new patient calls, such as common questions or issues they encounter. Encouraging open communication and feedback can help your team feel more engaged and empowered to make improvements.
By following these 10 lessons learned from our 100K+ new patient calls, you can improve your practice’s communication with potential patients, provide them with the information they need, and ultimately increase the likelihood that they’ll book an appointment with you. Taking the time to listen to and analyze your new patient calls can provide valuable insights into how your practice is performing and where improvements can be made. We encourage healthcare providers to take these lessons to heart and implement them in their practice.
Are you struggling to handle new patient calls effectively? Do you feel like you’re missing out on potential business because of it? Don’t worry, because GSP has got you covered. We take care of everything from generating leads to booking appointments, so you can focus on what you do best – providing top-quality healthcare to your patients. With a dedicated virtual assistant to guide you through the process, you can rest easy knowing that your new patient calls are in good hands. Contact us today and see how GSP can help take your practice to the next level.