Proactive phoning

A trial of a new telephone system has found that contacting patients by telephone can help to spot early warning signs as well as cut down on unnecessary hospital appointments.  The study into patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease required patients to input answers to a series of questions using their key pads with the results being analysed by doctors.

This regular contact not only alerted doctors to patients who needed urgent attention it also eliminated the need for some three hundred unnecessary hospital appointments, saving both time and money.  Regular contact also resulted in patients being more aware of their condition, enabling them to be more proactive in self-management.

In a way this trial is another step forward in the growth in understanding of how health professionals can use telephone services to improve patient interaction and fill appointment books.  Simple measures such as sending out SMS appointment reminders can not only improve the client attendance rate but will also prompt clients who cannot attend appointments to cancel in good time.  This enables practitioners to re-fill appointment slots and maximise time spent on treatment.

Similarly, taking steps to ensure that calls are answered helps to foster the client relationship.  We all lead busy lives and tend to steal moments from our day to carry out tasks such as making appointments.  If the call is not answered the chances are that the need to phone will slip from our minds for some time or that we will simply telephone elsewhere.  This is where a virtual receptionist service can be so valuable.  With the virtual receptionist ensuring that the call is answered on behalf of the health practitioner there will be no chance that the client will phone elsewhere or that an urgently needed treatment will be postponed.

Whether they be osteopaths or chiropractors, beauticians or physiotherapists, the one thing all health practitioners have in common is the need to maximise time spent with patients.  Interrupting treatments to answer the phone or blocking out diary time to remind patients of impending appointments is simply not a viable option if the practice is to run to its potential.  Calling on the services of a virtual receptionist service means that calls are answered, appointments made and reminders sent without taking up practice time.  And with easy to use diary software which is visible 24/7 the use of a virtual receptionist doesn’t preclude the practice making follow up appointments at the end of a treatment session.

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