A smile can make wonders. This applies true even on the phone! Smiling while talking to someone on the phone creates a nonverbal message to the recipient that you are genuine, professional, and most importantly, happy to be conversing with them. This wonderful idea is very much applicable to a medical virtual assistant when speaking with patients, physicians, pharmacists, and the likes. Now, providing the information they need or simply setting up an appointment for them becomes a more pleasant experience as the medical virtual assistant enjoys helping them — with a SMILE.
Being the frontliner of a medical institution or a physician’s clinic, a medical assistant plays an important role as the image projector of the company. Whatever impression they will leave to clients will contribute to the image of the institution and could in turn affect its productivity. A medical assistant with excellent phone etiquette could help shape the company’s image and provide satisfaction to clients.
Below are important guidelines that a medical assistant must follow in answering the phone:
1. Be pleasant and polite in answering the phone. Telephone is one medium used by people to convey information to others. Thus, one must speak clearly and use proper pacing so the person on the other line understands your message. If you’re taking a message from the caller, make sure that you write it down so you keep the details of the message and not forget about it later. After doing so, it is highly recommended that you read it back to the caller to allow verification of the information. Be sensitive when talking to people. Not everyone may be in the best mood — try to read between the lines and empathize when necessary. Most importantly, give your full attention to the caller. Do not do unnecessary things that may distract your attention from the call. Lastly, end the call in a polite manner and on a positive note.
2. Treat every piece of information as confidential. Trust is something that keeps your clients loyal to your institution. Thus, as the person entrusted by the client of all his data, you must handle them with confidentiality. You don’t have the power to disclose any client-related information even to a family member unless the client gives permission. If someone insists, just be polite yet firm in saying that you really can’t disclose any information. As a medical assistant, you are bound by the HIPAA Privacy Rule that states every entity must provide protection for personal health information and give patients an array of rights with respect to that information.
3. Answer the phone as quickly as possible. One important rule is to avoid making your callers wait. Remember that you’re a part of a medical institution or facility and calls can range from setting up appointments to attending to callers who are in an emergency situation. If you’re currently on the line talking to another person whose concern is to set an appointment and then there’s another client calling for an emergency situation, don’t be hesitant to ask the former if you can put him on a brief hold. Make sure that you’ll get back to him, though, and say “thank you” for staying on the line. This way, you still get the chance to know their reasons for the call without failing to serve the one that needs more immediate attention.
4. Know your role and its limitations. Never give medical advice to a client. When a client calls in and needs medical advice but the physician is out, tell the client to schedule an appointment with the physician or you may look for any medical practitioner available to take over. Your primary responsibility is to assist the physician or any personnel in the institution and certainly not to give advice related to medications, treatments or prescriptions.
5. Be mentally alert at all times. When taking in calls, it is important that you have the presence of mind. There will surely be instances when you need to transfer calls to another department. Make sure that the client is transferred to the appropriate department who could assist them best. Effectivity in a job can be greatly affected by your state of mind.
Do not undermine your role as a medical virtual assistant because you can contribute a lot to the organization where you belong. You are the first person who guide new clients of the company, cater to their needs, and endorse them to the right physician who could directly help them. Leaving them a great experience at their encounter with you could make them go back or refer others to avail of your services.
This shows that your role as medical virtual assistant is as essential as that of the physician. Just like a physician, the way you handle clients on the phone will reflect the overall image of the institution. Learning and practicing these phone etiquettes by heart will not only help your company stand out but will surely be stepping stones for you to be a top-notch medical virtual assistant.