Problems Making Phone Appointments at the Doctors' Surgery
I say again, doctors are the only profession that exceed my expectation.
At the other extreme, phone systems consistently disappoint me. This
is because I can remember the halcyon days when if you phoned the doctor's
surgery, or a hospital, you got through to a real live
telephonist. It's interesting that that really important services, such
as the 999 emergency, still employ a real telephonist. All other
services bamboozle me with their recorded messages, befuddle me with options,
and then more often than not, cut me off once I make my selection.
Until a doctors' surgery provides a real live telephonist I will never believe
that they truly put their patients ahead of procedures and performance
targets. I am not sure if it makes matters better or worse that all
surgeries are equally cowardly, in that they all hide under the excuse that
everyone else provides only a recorded options menu service.
To step back, and take a reality check: there are 2,000,000 + people unemployed in Great
Britain, would it not better everyone if 5,000 of them were employed
as surgery telephonists, rather than drawing
Update 1: I hear that my surgery now has 5 receptionists on
duty for the morning rush-hour. It was probably coincidence that two
weeks previously I wrote a letter of complaint / constructive criticism
concerning the telephone appointment system. On the other hand, patient
feedback may be factor in changing surgery procedures.
Update 2: There are now 7 options when you phone our
surgery. My pleas are that a) they don't change that, number 1 always = emergency, 2 = today's appointments,
etc. b) Pie in the sky maybe, but don't all surgeries use the same
numbers for the same service. I am not a great fan of central government interference, but just
when standardisation would be a good idea, its nowhere to be found.
Doctors' Phone Service - Plan B
It seems that at least for the short-term we have to accept a recorded message service.
Taking a shot at a surgery's phone service is an easy target. Thus a
better question is, 'What can we do to make the phone appointments system better'?
- Research, and put into practice, every little improvement that
individual receptionists have uncovered.
- Ask patients what they would like.
- Test alternatives. Why do we have to have out-of-date or
- Experiment with soothing useful messages. 'If you are phoning
to make an appointment for someone else, it will help our receptionist if you
have their correct spelling of their first name and last name'.
- I am sure that patients have a rich
seam of suggestions on how to make an automated system better. (Why do they have to start at 8:30?
What would happen if the lines were
opened at 7:30?)
- Consistency with phone options. For example press 1 is always
for emergencies, 2 for today's appointments etc.
- As this phone service is a topic I have though a great deal about, I
would welcome comments and especially suggestions from other patient
- Repeat prescription push the message, use internet form.
Maybe mention it in the message, maybe mention on the repeat form.
On the notice-board. Make internet slicker.
- Would it be better to install a separate dedicated phone line for
prescriptions and test results, I am not sure, what do you think?
Facility to Text Cancellations.
Contact Guy Thomas