Please Quote Me Right – #NotWhatISaid


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I was approached by another national newspaper last week The Daily Mirror  to do a piece on the bad publicity that GP Receptionists are getting recently in the press lately.

As anyone that reads my blog will know that I am not only passionate about good patient care, but also I am very protective of the Receptionists who do a very difficult and at times very stressful jobs.

The reporter more or less took me through what she wanted to write and for most of this she wrote what I had said correctly all apart from point no 2. DON’T PHONE JUST TURN UP.

I didn’t quote this and I never would. I even had a lengthy conversation with her stating that this was not an ideal solution as someone coming and presenting themselves at the surgery would not get them an appointment over someone who telephoned. If the Receptionists have appointments they will offer them – if they haven’t got any appointments free then someone standing there in front of them will not magic one up out of thin air! This would then annoy the patient and this is where they can often get the bad publicity from.

Every surgery have their own system in place for appointments, but I am confident that there will be very few if any that would suggest that patients turn up for emergency appointments rather than telephone.

The two articles I recently did for two national newspapers I did was purely to stand up for all GP Receptionists.

I never receive any payment for these articles I did it purely to stand up for all GP Receptionists and the great jobs they do, often going over and above their job description to help patients.

Here is the article – which again is a great support for all GP Receptionists across the country but again I would like to point out that I did not quote No 2.

http://www.mirror.co.uk/lifestyle/health/9-ways-you-can-make-8685940

Sadly because of this I will feel very reluctant in the future to do any more articles.

 

 

 

Just how important are Telephone Messages #AnswerMachine


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Just how important are telephone answering machines? VERY important as it keeps your customers informed of you’re opening days and times.

Last week I needed to contact my dentist for an urgent appointment. He is a one-man dentist, with a hygienist and a nurse/receptionist. When he has any time off the practice closes.

I rang at 09.00 last Monday morning, the telephone just rang and rang, no one answered and there was no telephone answering message. I thought they might be starting at 9.30 so I range again – still no answer. I did think this was strange as usually when he has been away on holiday he has answered the phone via his mobile and has advised from there. This time there was nothing.

I tried again just after lunchtime and again around 4.00 pm. I wondered if perhaps he was having a long weekend off. I even checked that I was ringing the correct number.

I tried again the following morning, at 9.00 and 11.00.

The worse part for me was the not knowing. Had there been a message to say how long the surgery was going to be closed for I could have then made a decision to either wait and see him or to seek treatment elsewhere.

As I needed an urgent appointment I telephoned another practice locally and was luckily enough to get an appointment that same afternoon.

Just as well I did as I was told that had I left it any later I would have probably lost the tooth.

I have been with my dentist for over 9 years. No reason to change to be honest, I am not fond of the dentist at the best of times, but he always seemed to be good enough.

I actually found the new dentist to be extremely pleasant, she made me feel very much as ease. The surgery surroundings were very relaxed and the Receptionist was lovely, she chatted away.  I felt far more relaxed when I went in to see the Dentist and she talked me through what she was going to do. The surgery was also much closer to home and there was free parking where I used to have to pay for parking at my other dentist and to add to it all the new dentist’s overall charges were considerably a lot cheaper than my regular dentist.

Taking everything into consideration I have decided to move to the new Dentist, it suits my needs much more, but I didn’t realise that until I was forced to visit the new surgery.

Had my old dentist had a telephone message advising how long the surgery would be closed for I would probably still be going there now.

So, it is vital that you have a good telephone message set up on your phones. Ensure that the message is appropriate and you might have to change a message if you have the following:

  • Morning opening times that differ
  • if you close for lunch – state what time you open again at and leave any emergency numbers as appropriate.
  • Evening closing times differ – again leave any emergency numbers
  • Friday night – leave messages appropriate for weekend closing and again leave any emergency numbers
  • If there is a bank holiday, please ensure that this is mention in the last message before the holiday.

Get someone who has a good clear voice to record the messages. It is essential that they speak slowly and clearly and repeat any emergency telephone numbers twice.

Get someone to check the messages regularly to make sure they are the correct ones.

If you do not want anyone leaving messages add this to your message and make it clear that the service does not accept telephone messages. If you don’t people will use it as a message machine.

There is nothing worse that getting a telephone answering message that is out of date or wrong!

Having the correct telephone message on your answer phone is important. You could lose customers if it’s not.

Does your Receptionist recognise signs of Sepsis. A Patients Story #Bournemouth Hospital


There has been a lot of publicity recently regarding Sepsis. This is aimed at raising awareness and those that work in the GP surgeries and Hospitals will know on too well that this will create fear amongst some patients and therefore will be more than likely phoning the Surgery/Hospital for advice.

We are being told Sepis should be treated urgently as we would a heart attack.

For all Receptionists, Secretaries and Administrators who could be faced with a query regarding this are you fully competent to deal with it? Would you be confident in dealing with a call that could be Sepsis? I must confess I am not sure I would be able to identify this emergency a few weeks ago, but I feel a lot more confident now that I have read up on it.

You probably have procedures and policies in place for dealing with a heart attack. Have you a procedure or policies in place to deal with sepsis? Perhaps at your next team meeting you could put this on your agenda or speak to your Reception Manager or Practice Manager about having one written up.

The most important thing is that you know the facts about Sepis and what is expected from you as a Receptionist if you take such a call. Don’t be one of those surgeries/hospitals that could be highlighted as missing something that might be so obvious to someone who knows what Sepsis is.

Many doctors view Sepsis as a three-stage syndrome, starting with Sepsis and progressing through severe Sepsis to septic shock. The goal is to treat Sepis during its early stage, before it becomes more dangerous.

Sepsis usually comes with a probable or confirmed infection and includes several symptoms. These perhaps can be discussed with a Doctor and the Receptionists and a guide of what questions to ask the patient.

Septis has to be treated quickly as the patient can go downhill very quickly

A chart that I found very useful to help identify some of the symptoms:sepsisqa-2015-big

A very interesting clip from the Royal Bournemouth Hospital highlighted a patients experience and how his Sepsis was nearly missed. They are keen to spread awareness. Well done Bournemouth Hospital for sharing this short film.

Published on July 13 2016. 

Sepsis is a medical emergency, here at RBCH we are keen to spread  awarness and listen to patients experiences to improve care. 

 

Happy Patients #guestpost


imagesCAUP3U1DThe guest post today is from someone I don’t personally know, but with her permission I would like to share it with you, and to stress how important it is to keep patients informed when the Doctor or Nurse is running late. Quite often patients are not annoyed at the delay in their appointments, it the “not knowing and lack of communication” that can quite often bring on frustration and anger.

By informing the patients that there is a delay you are taking away a possible frustrated patient coming to the desk demanding to know what is happening when their appoitment times has come and gone – it then too late the damage is  already done – the patient is angry and you as the Receptionist is more than likely to get the brunt of it.

Guest post:

“I had a Hospital apt today at Aintree Hospital here in Liverpool mum came with me, the clinic was running late. Billy the senior HCA was rushing around everywhere making sure everyone was ok and informed us all of the delay “no wonder he’s so thin he never stands still” mum commented. We went through from 1 waiting room to another and was again informed of the delay that there were 3 doctors on and were doing their best. Around 10 minutes later mum started nattering to the lady sat next to her, the lady said “there is a delay my apt was at 10:30am” mum “it is what it is, where would we be without our NHS”. No amount of waiting time is a problem for me or my mum if it means we keep our NHS, I am NHS staff myself and I love our care system its the best in the world and we should all fight to keep it. The poor doctor I saw had a packet of biscuits on his desk to keep him going, clearly working through his lunch”

 

I have previously written a post on keeping patients informed:

When The Doctor/Nurse is running late. http://t.co/Tlnpi4OD

 

Why are feedback forms so important?


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Your organisation tells you that you are booked in for some training — what are your thoughts? Do you dread the forthcoming training, do you embrace it with a view to learning more and thus helping your career to move forward, or are you happy to go along with an open mind?

Every trainer has a mixture of these candidates at the start of most training sessions. There are those that don’t think they need training and those that will embrace the training wanting more, and those with an open mind are often pleasantly surprises.

Staff often have to attend outside of they’re working hours, even on their day off, some are lucky enough to do the training in their normal working hours. So as a trainer you have to make sure that the candidates have felt their time has been worthwhile.

As a trainer my goal is to have everyone “reading from the same page” by the end of the training session. It is important to involve everyone in some way throughout, turning negatives into positives and most of all making the sessions relevant, interesting and interactive.

Training can be tiring and after a 3-hour session people are more that ready to go on their way and then bang —  at the end of the session I produce the dreaded feedback form to be completed asking for comments on the training session. I sense the silent groans as people rush through their form before they leave.

Have you ever stopped and wondered what is done with these forms and how important it is to the trainer and future training?

As a trainer I take the forms seriously. Firstly, they rate the session from 1 – 10 (ten being top marks) and my ability to hold an informative and interesting session. I pride myself on getting mainly 9 and 10’s.

I take great care in analysing the forms. I pride myself of getting mainly 9 and 10’s, but if I every get around 6-7 I would be looking at that part of training and asking myself was relevant to that group – or is it a part of the training that I should be changing or updating.

I look at what the candidates found the most interesting in the training, what did the candidates feel they gained from the training and how will they will hope to apply this back in their workplace. Deciding what material to keep in the next few training sessions ahead.

No two training courses are the same either  — this all depends on the candidates and the part they play in the training, and for me an important part of the training as this is where I can learn from them. Questions are asked, solutions discussed and new ideas thrown around. The training offers many different scenarios that often raise questions and answers.

So next time you are faced with a feedback form, not only are you helping the trainer identify future training needs you are also helping future candidates in getting a well planned and thought out training session.

 

 

Phoning a Patient at Home


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Does your Practice have guidelines on phoning patients at home? We all know of the obvious one and that’s not to leave a message of any kind on a landline because of confidentiality.

But when is it a good time to phone when you need to speak to a patient? Perhaps it’s relaying on a message from the Doctor or Nurse, or just to let them know there is a prescription to collect due to recent tests coming in.

I will give you an example on how consideration should be made when phoning a patient at home.

Someone close to me has for the past 6 years been trying for a baby without any success. The couple have been through many hospital and doctors visits, pregnancy results and alternative treatment to try help them achieve a pregnancy. They finally went through IVF earlier in the year with the daily injections, hormone changes and finally the heart-breaking news that it hadn’t worked. They set their sights on more IVF in 3 months’ time. An eternity to them both. But to all our surprise and delight a month after the failed IVF they fell pregnant naturally.

Fast follow to her being 6 months pregnant. She hadn’t had an easy time, morning sickness and fatigue hit with a vengeance, she also has an over active thyroid that needs monitoring throughout the pregnancy and she also found out that she was rhesus negative blood type and tests would have to be done when the baby was born to see if she needed an anti D injection but the delight of finally being pregnancy got them through all of these hiccups.

Her symptoms were getting worse and she was feeling poorly with no energy she seen the doctor and bloods were sent off to check for her iron levels.

So last Wednesday morning she was in bed. It was 7.55 and the telephone rang downstairs. They have elderly relatives and she immediately worried something was up. No on every phones at that time unless its urgent she thought.

She rushed out of bed, rang down the stairs and as she picked up the phone it stopped. She waited for a message but then her mobile started ringing upstairs – she panicked as someone was trying to get hold of her.

As she ran upstairs to get to the phone she tripped on the stairs and fell. In the panic she got up and answered the telephone to find it was her Doctors Receptionist telephoning to say that there was a prescription in reception for her to pick up for iron tablets.

As you can imagine she was upset as the fall. As the day went on she couldn’t feel much movement from the baby and this caused her a lot of distress, until she finally telephoned her midwife to asked her to come straight into the maternity hospital to check the baby and to have an anti D injection.

So, did the Receptionist really need to phone at 7.55 in the morning? I don’t think so. This telephoned caused a lot of unnecessary worry and inconvenience not to say how awful it could have been – but we wont do there! And not to mention how bad the Receptionist would have felt had she had known about the fall.

There should always be a guideline for people being telephoned at home unless it is urgent of course. 7.55 is far too early, what if it had been an elderly or disabled person doing the same thing? A fall could have been a disaster for them.

When training staff I always told them unless urgent no patient should be telephoned at home before 9.00 and if possible leave it until around 10.00.

More and more surgeries are opening up earlier than every before, so perhaps guidelines should be set to what time Receptionists can start to phone patients.

My Experiences with Dr’s Receptionists in Dubai #GuestPost #2/2


I would like to share the second post from a friend. The first post was her experiences with the healthcare system when she was living in South Africa.

She had now moved to Dubai and shares her experiences with the healthcare system there, and how helpful she finds the Receptionist.

Thank you for sharing your experiences……………….

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Visiting the Doctor in Dubai

A new medical aid scheme this time, it works differently, some treatments I pay for in advance, some I must have a referral letter for, some is covered under the scheme and some is only part refunded.

Armed with every question I thought I needed to know, I started calling round Doctors surgeries after 6 months. I’d put of registering with a doctors and the dentists because of the stress of sorting out the medical aid in South Africa. However I was in chronic pain with what turned out to be a slipped disc and I need to see a doctor a.s.a.p.

I asked all the questions I thought I needed to of the receptionist, told her I was new to this country and this medical scheme, made an appointment, saw the doctor and was presented with a bill for AED 100 excess. Medication was easy, I took the prescription to the chemist, gave them my medical aid card, it was all paid for. I had a referral letter for the physio. I spoke to the receptionist on accounts that told me I had to phone my medical aid company, gain permission, and find out what they were willing to pay.

I ended up at the physio not knowing how much medical aid would pay because I could not get the receptionist to tell me how much the physio charged until I had an appointment. I went regardless, sometimes when you’re in that much pain then money isn’t the main issue.

On arrival at the phsyio I was in tears from the walking, the heat and the stress. The receptionist realized I couldn’t sit and cleared a counter for me to lean on, gave me a coffee and asked me where I was from and how long I’d lived here. She asked me if I needed any further assistance so I asked about the medical aid and all was explained to me. I pay AED 350 after each session and I receive AED 329 reimbursement. She gave me an invoice that was signed and dated and a claim form. Simple or so I thought.

I actually called her today to tell her my medical aid company wants a separate claim form for each visit and yet another referral letter, this time from the physio and not the doctor.

My next appointment is on Monday, the receptionist informed me she’d get everything filled out, dated and signed and scanned onto a memory stick so I can email the claim directly.

I would turn for help and guidance to the receptionist at the doctors surgery every time from now on, they are dealing with things like this every day and know what they are doing.

I know a lot of people complain about receptionist when asked what the matter is prior to making an appointment, but that is so the receptionist can make the right length of appointment with the right person. When you pay for your health care, you really can’t afford to be booked in with the doctor when you could’ve gone straight to the physio or nurse.

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Her first post on South Africa isMy Experience with Dr’s Receptionists in South Africa #Guest Post #1 https://beyondthereceptiondesk.wordpress.com/2015/06/14/my-experience-with-drs-receptionists-in-south-africa-guest-post-1