Patient Care – Empathy


I watch a short 4 minute clip from you tube called Empathy from the Cleveland Clinic and would like to share it with you all. It really is worth a look.

As a Receptionist working in a Doctors Surgery, a Healthcare Clinic or a Hospital it is a reminder that behind every person there is a story.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cDDWvj_q-o8&sns=em

The people in this film could have at one point spoken to you as a Receptionist on the telephone or at the desk.

We do not always know what is going on in people’s lives.

So perhaps if someone is a bit short or angry or out of turn with you or appears to be upset in any way they could be that they couldn’t get an appointment with the Doctor that same day, or angry that you cannot discuss their loves ones because of patient confidentiality, when people are upset, distressed and in pain they often hit out at others. They could have been someone in this film.

Knowing how to deal with a difficult / upset person at the desk is so very important – and being able to turn a negative situation into a positive one.

If you could stand in someone else’s shoes…..hear what they hear…..see what they see…..feel what they feel would you treat them any differently?

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Patient Care – Empathy


I watch a short 4 minute clip from you tube called Empathy from the Cleveland Clinic and would like to share it with you all. It really is worth a look. As a Receptionist working in a Doctors Surgery, a Healthcare Clinic or a Hospital it is a reminder that behind every person there is a story. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cDDWvj_q-o8&sns=em The people in this film could have at one point spoken to you as a Receptionist on the telephone or at the desk. We do not always know what is going on in people’s lives. So perhaps if someone is a bit short or angry or out of turn with you or appears to be upset in any way they could be that they couldn’t get an appointment with the Doctor that same day, or angry that you cannot discuss their loves ones because of patient confidentiality, when people are upset, distressed and in pain they often hit out at others. They could have been someone in this film. Knowing how to deal with a difficult / upset person at the desk is so very important – and being able to turn a negative situation into a positive one.

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Repeat Prescription Collection


Repeat prescriptions are a big part of the daily workload in a GP Practice. Patients depend on getting them on a regular basis and it is vital that they are correct and issued within the 24/48 hour practice policy.

Patients have never had it easier to ensure that they get their request for a repeat prescription in on time for it to be ready for them to collect. Here are some of the ways that patients can request a repeat prescription (not all of these options might be suitable for your surgery)

  • Bringing the repeat prescription into the surgery 24/48 hours prior to collection (and if the surgery is closed the repeat prescription can be posted through the letterbox)
  • Dropping off their prescription at their local chemist who will then bring the prescription along to the Surgery.
  • Having their repeat prescription delivered to their local chemist for them to collect
  • Requesting a prescription via telephone (not all surgeries have this facility)
  • Emailing a request via the Surgery email (not all surgeries have this facility)
  • Sending in a request through the post (ensure that patients enclose a stamped addressed envelope for its return)

The above has made it a lot easier for patients that are working to be able to request their repeat prescriptions in time – a visit to the surgery is not always necessary.  Most Surgeries are opened from early morning to late afternoon/evening to enable patients to collect repeat prescriptions, and if this is not suitable the patient can provide a stamped addressed envelope for its return.

So, why is it that patient STILL continuing on a regular daily basis to come rushing in demanding a repeat prescription there and then?  As a Receptionist you will know exactly what I mean. You will find the patient will stand at the desk demanding their repeat prescription, and telling you that if you do not give it to them NOW they will probably die! Yes it happens, and of course we are not in a position to refuse them their medication and the patient knows that.

And what you will find it will be the same people month in and month out that are doing this every time, and more often than not it will be people who are not working and have plenty of time to come in on other days – preferably with plenty of notice.

What the patent does not realise is the extra work that this “urgent” repeat prescription can cause.

One Surgery that I worked in could have up to 160 repeat prescriptions to process ever day. This would involve a prescription clerk processing the prescriptions, flagging up any queries with the doctors, phoning hospitals to query changes to patient’s medications, and updating the computer system for patients that needed to come in for checks i.e. Asthma, Blood Pressure and Diabetics etc.

The prescriptions would then have to be checked and signed by the doctor and when that had been done them all files into alphabetical order ready for collection. This is not a 5 minute job.

So, when a patient comes in demanding their prescription there and then this is what it takes to get this prescription done

  • The receptionist will have to generate the prescription which means that she will have to put aside the work she is already doing.
  • The Receptionist then has to go and stand outside a Doctors room to wait on a patient coming out before she can ask the Doctor to sign the prescription. Any Receptionist having to do this will tell you that they could be standing outside a room for anything up to 15 minutes.
  • This then makes a shortage of receptionists in reception – causing patient to wait longer to be seen or worse still the telephones not being answered.

And what is unfair is the patient that is not following Practice policy is actually being put first and those patients that are following the policy are waiting 24/48 hours when in fact they could have done exactly the same thing.

How would your Surgery cope if you had half of your patients demanding repeat prescriptions in such a way?

This was highlighted as becoming a problem in one of the surgeries I worked in. The Receptionists seemed to spend more time standing outside the Doctors rooms waiting on “urgent” prescriptions being signed, and the Doctors were getting pretty fed up being asked to sign and check these requests on a daily basis.

I discussed this issue at a Team meeting – and it was agreed that we could not refuse a patient their prescription as they needed their medication. And we all agreed that there were often genuine cases where people had run out and not realised it and these we fully understood – what we needed to try to solve was the same patients that were coming in on a regular basis demanding their prescriptions there and then.

So, we agreed on a policy which we implemented and it worked.

We agreed when a patient came into the surgery “demanding” their repeat prescription that we would explain our policy of 24/48 hours notice, but would tell the patient that on this occasion we would get their prescription done – but it would not be ready until after 4.30 that same day.  This meant that the patient had to come back to the surgery to collect the prescription and hopefully make them think twice next time and hopefully start using the correct system.

Of course we would not have done this is someone did have difficulty getting back, or if they were disabled  – but it was not these patients that were causing us the problem  – it was often fit or young patients that could quite easily come back later on that day. It was not our aim to refuse or be difficult but to try to re educate these patients so that everyone was given the same service.

To begin with we had patients that were not happy – after all they were used to getting it done there and then. But this system did work – those that were genuine were only too happy to call back again at 4.30 and those that were taking advantage soon realised that perhaps they should get their repeat prescription in 24/48 hours earlier.

Within a couple of months the only requests we got were from the odd few patients that did have genuine reasons to request as urgent prescription.

Disability Awarness and The Reception Desk


Back in 2010 I worked for a private hospital. All the staff from cleaners, receptionists, nurses and Doctors was all just so lovely – a great bunch of staff who all have exceptional customer care skills.

What did surprise me was that very few Receptionists (and some nursing staff) knew what the “nicely designed” reception desks were really for.

When I say “nicely designed” receptionists desks I mean the desks that were there to help assist the disabled, especially people in wheelchairs.

As you can see in the pictures the desks are designed in such a way that a disabled patient, can have easy access to the desk at all times.

The “modern” receptionist desks are usually quite high – this enables the receptionist to sit on a high chair or stand so they are at the same level as the person they are dealing with.

Can you see how difficult it would be for a wheelchair user at this desk?

So why should a disabled person be any different?

By having a lower desk it gives the disabled patient the option to sit at the lower part of the reception desk if they need to complete any necessary forms, or just to talk to a receptionist that is sitting on a low chair face to face rather than the receptionist standing and talking down to them. Its far more patient friendly doing it this way – and asking anyone that is either a receptionist or a disabled patient will both tell you it is a much nicer way to communicate. It is also excellent for confidentiality when the receptionist might be asking the patient some questions.

It is not just wheelchair users that may need this facility – people on crutches would be unable to stand at the higher desk to complete necessary forms, and of course there are others that are disabled that have no signs that they are – but they still may need to sit down to complete necessary forms or just to book future appointments.

So, to my dismay I actually witnessed a Receptionists standing talking down to a patient in a wheelchair at the highest part of the reception desk. The patient was asked to complete a form whereby the receptionist gave the patient a clipboard to balance on their lap whilst they completed the form. Other standing patients were crowding around the patient in the wheelchair and I am pretty sure they must have felt very uncomfortable.

I didn’t want to embarrass the receptionist or the patient so I let it go. But as soon as the patient had finished I asked the receptionist why she though the low part of the reception desk was for. She replied she thought it was just the design of the desk. She then laughed and asked was it was for sitting on!

I had to point it out it was actually there for disabled people to use – to enable them to complete any necessary forms at ease and the receptionist could speak to them at this point and avoid having to stand over and talk down to them – sitting on a low chair they would be talking to them face to face – as they would do with a patient that would be standing at the high part of the desk.

She was amazed and agreed it was a great idea. I asked several other receptionists after this and a good 30% of them were exactly the same and thought that it was just a design factor instead of being there to help the disabled.

Because of this the lower part of the desk designed to assist the disabled had no information leaflets like they had on the higher part of the desk, or pens that were needed to complete necessary forms.

So, do not take it for granted that a new member of staff will be aware of what this part of the desk is for – get your Supervisor or Team Leader to use this in their Reception training and always ensure that the lower desk is as well equipped as the higher part of the reception desk.