Seven rules for medical office phone etiquette

Written by mary jane
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Seven rules for medical office phone etiquette
Answer the phone promptly after it rings to help out the caller. (telephone 1 image by Aussiebloke from

A medical office often has an administrative assistant or a receptionist to take all of the calls from patients, who want to book an appointment or speak with the doctor. Since most of the calls from patients will deal with personal health issues, it is important that the caller is aware of proper and professional phone etiquette.

Answer Promptly

Answer the phone promptly when it rings. It should not ring more than two or three times, as you do not want to let the patient calling wait for your attention. As a receptionist, it is your job to be there when patients call, so answer promptly when possible. Many doctors will ask that you answer the phone immediately so the sound of the telephone does not disturb any treatments taking place in the medical clinic.

Greet Professionally

Greet the patient professionally when answering the phone. Being negative or having an unprofessional attitude can cause the patient to be rude to you or could cause you to lose your job. Be courteous when you answer, as you are representing yourself and the medical clinic.

Smile on the Phone

Besides being professional, have a smile on your face when you answer the phone. Although the patient calling cannot see your smile, it can be heard in the tone of voice you present. A smiling tone is more welcoming and calm than a monotone voice.

Listen to Problems

Listen to the issues or problems the caller wants to discuss with you. This will help you determine whom the patient needs to speak to or whether you can solve the problems yourself. For example, a patient may call and start sharing her health problems with you, only with the goal of scheduling an appointment. Listen to the patient and solve the problems accordingly.

Avoid Personal Questions

When patients call, it is important to listen to their problems before asking any questions regarding the call. While some patients will open up and tell you directly about their health problems, others will simply ask for the doctor because they are either too embarrassed to talk to anyone about it or because they want to keep everything personal. Do not ask any questions about the patient's condition or health issues on the phone.

Avoid Slang or Poor Language

Avoid using slang, poor language or abbreviations when speaking with a patient over the phone. Older patients may not be able to hear you well over the phone, so using poor language or abbreviation may only cause confusion. Speak in a loud and clear voice so the patient understands you.

Be Helpful

Be helpful when patients call the medical office. Patients call the clinic to get answers to questions, whether it is booking an appointment, getting clarification from a doctor or getting the name of a particular brand of medicine. Offer the help you can, and ask the patient to be patient if the doctor needs to step in and be of service. The doctor may not be available at all times, so help out where you can.

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