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Managing your incoming calls at your practice

With all that you must do as a physiotherapy private practice owner, it’s easy to lose sight of one of your most important duties…managing your patients’ calls.

This issue, if not handled properly, will have serious repercussions on your business success, regardless of the size of your practice. A physiotherapist who is trying to get his practice off the ground must take special care not to ignore and alienate those precious early calls. Similarly, an established clinic cannot afford to brush off current patients or new inquires. In both these cases, neglecting your patients’ calls is unprofessional and can easily drive people in to your competitors’ clinics.

Call management duties at your practice comes down to two distinct choices:

  • An automated solution like voice mail to collect patient requests to be acted on later.
  • A human solution, i.e. you or a dedicated receptionist handling first contact, appointment follow-ups, etc.

Let’s consider voice mail for your practice. The importance of frontline contact cannot be underestimated, so if you aren’t able to answer calls personally, the message heard by the patient must be welcoming enough for them to leave a message. Here are some basic messaging tips:

  • Keep your welcome message short. Your patients are busy like you and will be annoyed with clichéd phrases like “I’m not available right now; please leave a message after the tone.”
  • Avoid telephone tag; ask callers to specify the best time to return their calls.
  • Plan out your message properly and practice saying it like a trained speaker. Consider hiring a professional to record the final product.

Conversely, an administrative professional trained to handle patient calls may be a solid option for your practice. By speaking with a comforting human voice, patients will be reassured that there calls are important. The receptionist will also be able to pass on crucial information immediately (e.g. emergency phone numbers to immediately reach you or one of your colleagues).

So what’s the best solution? Ideally, you would be able to answer all your calls. However, the nature of your physiotherapy work and management demands at least some type of automated service. If hiring a full-time receptionist is out of the question at the present time, consider outsourcing at least part of your call management to a dedicated voice mail service that offers call redirection, hotline and/or virtual personal assistant (VPA) solutions. These are cheap and effective.