Podiatry Management Online


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05/25/2013    Lynn Homisak, PRT

Staff Makes it Difficult to Get Appointments (Name Withheld)

I have to be honest, I cringed when I read your
post because if what you say is true…that you
suspect the receptionist and OM are in cahoots
and deliberately not scheduling patients…and that
they did not accommodate the Diabetic caller with
a same day appointment (even though they were
instructed to)…these are NOT the people you want
working for you. In fact, it sounds more like
they are working against you! How many other
potential patients (beside your “planted call”)
were turned away? To answer your question, yes,
there is a way to record phone calls for “quality
control” AND quality training purposes.

I have never been a proponent of “spying” on
staff by using their mistakes and errors as a
means of reprimand. I am more of the belief that
with proper training, a more professional staff
can learn how to turn an information-seeking
patient call into an appointment. Exceptional
telephone skills are a MUST! They are a practice
lifeline and all too often training in this area
is overlooked.

I have been very enlightened by a phone training
tool by “My Doctor Calls”
( It is a program that
helps staff learn how to professionally handle
phone calls and increase patient bookings (they
claim) “by 10-50%.” Every call coming into the
practice is recorded (with a permission waiver)
and can be personally reviewed and managed by you
or you can hire someone to monitor the calls for
you and use them to help train and improve your
staff’s telephone skills. I had the opportunity
to run through the program and was very impressed
by its performance. Visit their website for a
free demo.

Disclosure: I have no financial relationship with
this company.

Lynn Homisak, federal Way, WA,

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05/28/2013    Bryan Markinson, DPM

Staff Makes it Difficult to Get Appointments (Name Withheld)

I feel compelled to add another point of view to
this discussion. First of all, any staff member
purposely refusing urgent appointments to
decrease their work load speaks to volumes of
office procedural flaws and should never be
tolerated. On this everyone agrees. However,
think of how many times patients call on
an "urgent" basis for things that turn out to be
minor but embellished by the patient into an
emergency because they are going on vacation the
next day? This is disruptive to your schedule as
well as selfish to legitimate emergencies.

In addition, many physician offices are
overbooked and stretched to the max legitimately.
I have had several instances over the years where
I needed to refer urgent cancer cases to
oncologic surgeons who offered appointments up to
three months away! One can easily understand how
an "in-demand" surgeon for serious problems may
actually not have an opening for extended
periods. Yes, he can operate until midnight to
lighten the load, but the realities of that are

When it comes to podiatry, a new patient visit
involving diabetes and an open infected wound
without a primary care physician can take several
hours to dispense with. If you do this on any
sort of regular basis, your availability becomes
increasingly more limited. In my particular case,
being hospital based, I have a very high ratio of
new to established patients throughout the work
week. If I try to plan accordingly, bracing
myself for the diabetic infections along with the
mycotic toenail patients, I have to limit my
availability or someone will be getting cheated.

So, my point is that with all the best practice
efficiencies, procedures, staffing and good will,
if you are not saying "NO" when you can't fairly
accommodate a new patient tomorrow, then you will
be hurting your practice by squeezing them in
more than helping it by accommodating everyone. I
find it best to identify a colleague you trust to
recommend such patients to, and everybody wins.

Bryan Markinson, DPM, NY, NY,