Physicians should impress on their phone receptionists that they not only make appointments but provide new patients with their initial (and perhaps durable) sense of the physician and the staff. Phone receptionists should understand that patients – especially new patients – are not merely consumers buying a service, but individuals who may be, variously, vulnerable, anxious, and/or in pain. There is a gravity, however subliminal, in that first phone call and in those first words offered to the would-be patient. And let there be no doubt: Many patients still cling to the notion that a medical practice – especially a primary care practice – should be, per Winnicott, a “holding environment,” if only in the minimalist sense that the leap to scheduling an appointment will land one in good and even caring hands.
21 July 2012
When Phone Receptionists Behaved Like Professionals...
Over at Medicine, Health and History, Paul E. Stepansky contemplates the death of courtesy and professionalism in primary care and suggests that the decline began with the phone receptionists: