Stress-Free Scheduling For Emergency Patients

19 Oct

Stress-Free Scheduling for Emergency Patients

As we provide secret shopper calls, we often find that emergency patients are lost in the woodwork. These conversations oftentimes lack empathy and become over-the-phone diagnosis sessions – resulting in a failure to schedule the patient.

After you have gathered the patients name and immediate contact info, focus on what’s most important to the patient.

 Receptionist:Mrs. Jones, I’m so sorry you are having to deal with this problem! I know it must be inconvenient, not to mention painful. We have a special time set aside just for these types of situations, so that we can give you one-on-one uninterrupted time to get you comfortable and so that you and Dr. can work together to come up with a solution that meets your goals. We would love to see you today or tomorrow at 2 pm. Which time works best for you?

Take the opportunity to demonstrate compassion or empathy for their discomfort and inconvenience and show concern for their individual situation. Just asking “how long has this been hurting” is NOT sympathetic. Let them know you genuinely care!

“Let’s get all your information now, so that you don’t have to worry about that when you get here.”

Gather all info as you would a normal new patient phone call.


Patient: “Is the doctor going to be able to fix my tooth today?”

Receptionist: We would love to do that for you. “One of the reason’s we reserve a special time for emergencies, is so that we can get you out of pain as soon as possible and so that you don’t have to wait and you can decide what you want to do next. It sounds like you are pretty busy – I’ll be sure to let Dr. know that you’d like to minimize your visits as much as possible”

Patient: “how much will it cost?”

Receptionist: “To get you out of pain today you can expect to pay no more than $_____. I can promise you we won’t proceed with any treatment that will require additional cost without first discussing it with you.

Patient: “what if I just want to get my tooth pulled.”

Receptionist: “tell me more about that”

Some patients are not aware that there are other ways to save their teeth that can actually save them money in the long run. It is not our job to educate them over the phone, but to find out why they want a specific treatment, i.e. extraction. Perhaps this is what their parents chose and they assume it’s the best choice. Remember, you cannot change what people value, but you can change the value of you can provide for patients. True value starts when the patient feels listened to and understood. Handling an emergency call is routine for us – but not for the patient. Approach each call as if it’s the first time you’ve ever heard of a patient with a toothache!

By focusing on what you can do for the patient rather than what you cannot do, ie: (same day treatment, schedule according to their day, etc.), you will have drastically different results.

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