Ineffective receptionists linked with lower patient satisfaction

When receptionists fail to drive conversations with patients forward or prematurely end calls before confirming details on matters like future appointments, a correlated dip in patient satisfaction occurs, according to a new study published in British Journal of General Practice.

For the study, researchers analyzed 447 incoming calls from patients at three general practices in England. The analysis revealed that practices where the burden of pushing the conversation forward was commonly placed on the patient received lower scores on patient satisfaction surveys.

The researchers determined that the primary difference between effective receptionists and ineffective receptionists was the ability to offer an alternative course of action when a patient's request could not be met.

The authors concluded, "The study has implications for training receptionists. Key 'trainables' are to confirm appointment details or next actions at the end of calls and offer alternative courses of action if patients' initial request cannot be met."

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