Ring True: Mastering Dental Staff Phone Skills in 3 Essential Steps

March 31, 2022
January 26, 2024
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Effective communication is a deciding factor for patients inside and outside clinics. Communication is a skill that is important to healthcare professionals and patients alike. Clear communication ties into customer satisfaction, which ‌ties into customer turnover. This means that better communication leads to better customer satisfaction, which is an indicator of good customer retention.

Not only does effective communication help in providing support to the patient, but it is also important to avoid medical errors and ensure that they provide the best treatment. There is a growing need for better communication techniques, and it is now a skill that needs to be honed and worked on.

Communication should be at the forefront of all healthcare services, bringing customer satisfaction into the spotlight.

There is no definitive format or formula that can enhance communication. Communication techniques can increase the impact. However, these techniques will have to be tailored to the patients for the best results.

1. Drop the Jargon

Not all patients have the same level of health literacy. Some people might have an inkling of what particular medicine might be used for, while fewer still will know the ins and outs of a treatment plan. For many people, their understanding of medicine is quite low or might not exist at all.

People from different demographics will have different levels of understanding of medical practices, which is something that needs to be kept in mind by health care providers during communication.

Jargon is easy for the staff to understand because of years of working in a clinic and educational background. However, when communicating with a patient, one needs to keep in mind that not everyone is medically literate.

Use simple words and drop the jargon in any communication with the patient. The more medical terms a conversation has, the more difficult it is going to be for the patient to understand. The simpler the style of communication is from the staff’s end, the easier it will be for the patient to understand the treatment and medications they need.

Certain jargon might be hard to understand over the phone when explained if there is a need to use clinical terminology.

Communication Over Calls Presents Many Problems

  • There are no nonverbal cues to pick up on
  • Emotions can be hard to distinguish
  • Some words and phrases can be hard to pick up on

In such instances, one can always ask the patient to repeat any instructions provided. This way, you can iron out any discrepancies immediately.

2. Help Patients Understand Accents

A dialect or accent can be hard to understand. Someone who lived in the north might have difficulty understanding an accent from down south and vice versa. There are several dialects in a city alone, differentiating demographics and regions, without accounting for people who have moved cities.

There isn’t anyone accent that is preferable and the aim is not to eliminate the accent. Any goal in communication is to get the part to understand what you say. This can mean speaking slower so that your pronunciation is clear or enunciating some words to make them easier to comprehend.

3. Patience Is Important

Calling to fix an appointment can be hard for many people because of anxiety, limited medical knowledge, cognitive difficulties, or because of difficulty in hearing (hard of hearing, auditory delays). There is a lot of hesitance surrounding calls about medical treatments and practices. You need to deal with all these problems with empathy and patience to provide the best customer experience.

Establishing positive communication can be hard, but it is not impossible. It is often the small things in communication that can put a patient at ease. For example, rushing a call will cause loss of information, low patient satisfaction, and misdiagnosis. Taking it slow will allow the patent to absorb the information being provided and give them enough time to ask questions.

Repeat the information for the patient if they ask you to, so they can jot things down. Relaying information over the phone can be tricky. Try to speak slowly and clearly, a little louder if you are talking to senior citizens, hard-of-hearing people, and anyone who might have a poor connection.

You can break down complex words or phrases when speaking or you can carefully enunciate them. Pause at appropriate places in your conversation to let your patient speak up if they have any doubts. At the end of the call, it is a good form to ask the patient if they have any questions.

Patients should feel like they are a valued part of the clinic and that their opinion is being considered in their healthcare treatment and plan.

Why Is It important to Improve Your Phone Skills?

Patients are looking for easily accessible healthcare organizations that listen to them. Most patients begin their journey with the clinic with a phone call, hence, it is important to make it a positive experience. The better communications are between the health practitioner and the patient, the better patient satisfaction is going to be.

Don’t let any questions go unanswered. The uncleared doubts will negatively affect the patient’s experience and the quality of healthcare being provided. Patents should feel comfortable asking the staff for clarification on any matter.

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