For those of you who do not know, I am employed at a medical call center. My days consist of answering telephone calls for 6 family practices. I basically function as a front desk receptionist in that I schedule/reschedule appointments, provide information (non-medical as I am not trained as a clinician) and put messages back for the doctors. Having worked a bank call center previously I thought I had heard most everything. Oh no. I have heard much worse/sad/entertaining/disgusting stories since starting this job. I may elaborate on some of those tales in another blog entry, but for now I’d like to provide some do’s and do not’s I have discovered in dealing with patients on the phone.
Do expect to wait on hold if you are calling on a Mon. morning.
Do not whine about your hold time on a Mon. morning. Everyone calls at that time. Seriously.
Do provide me with your name and preferably your date of birth or the information of the patient when you call.
Do not start a convo with a 10+ minute long story expecting me to know/understand anything related to you and make me feel like an idiot when after 10 minutes I have to ask “Name and date of birth please?”
Do know that when I say the doctor is seeing a patient I’m not lying. That is what doctors are in the office to do after all.
Do not ask me “Can I talk to the doctor?” The answer is going to be no 99.9% of the time. Even if you’re basically dying (in which case you should be calling 911 and not your doctor) the best I will be able to do is get a nurse or clinician for you.
Do call for prescription refills 2-3 days before your medication will be gone.
Do not wait until 10 minutes before the office closes on a Fri. to call in and say you’re out of medication. It ranks as one of the most annoying things you can do, and trust me when I say we will gripe about you when we hang up the phone.
Do let me know if when scheduling an appointment if you need a certain day or time, and I will do my best to find an appointment that works best for you.
Do not say “Oh anytime is fine” and then when I proceed to offer you appointments you come up with an excuse for why each one will not work.
Do know that I listen to the details of your questions/concerns to put a thorough message back for the doctor.
Do not call in every hour asking if the doctor has responded to your message. The doctor is seeing patients and gets to messages in between them at best, but most likely at the end of his or her shift. Sick patients physically in the office take priority – period.
Do realize our job is to help you, but do not think you are the only patient who matters and that everyone is going to drop everything to take care of your needs at that very second.
If more people followed the above tips I think they would find their experience in calling their doctor’s office to be a lot more pleasant one. At the very least it will make my life a lot easier.