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The Patient Journey:
The Initial Call

don’t drop the ball in the patient journey  and make the initial call a bad experience.

initial call in the patient journey

If you have spent time and money on a gorgeous website, social media content and maybe even digital ads, don’t drop the ball and make the initial phone call a bad experience. While many contacts may reach out first on social media, ask a few questions and maybe even schedule their consultation, many more will have their first experience with your practice by making a phone call. Just like in person, you only have 1 chance to make a first impression on that initial call.

There are many steps in the patient journey.  For many prospective patients, they have already spent months doing their research on the procedures and services.  They have been in social media groups asking questions about specific providers and personal experiences.  Now, they have worked up the courage to call and ask their questions. Most times they are not calling just to book a consult.  They are scared and want to feel comfortable with the practice they are choosing to move forward with.

That being said, unless you are the only one in your area offering your services, your prospects are calling multiple offices and also booking consultations with more than 1 program.  That initial call is very important. It’s crucial to provide a great experience.

Here are the 3 worst issues that we have seen while doing secret shopping for elective procedures.

#1 Invalid and/or outdated dialing options from the call system

If you have an automated call routing system, please make sure the options are correct and up to date. If the prospective patient can’t easily get to your scheduling team, your office schedule and therefore your surgery schedule will never be maximized. 

Imagine the frustration of a prospect who is repeatedly routed to the wrong person, can’t escape the looped recording or leaves a voicemail in an inbox that never gets checked.  This problem can easily be corrected by frequently checking your call routing and updating the specifics as needed.

#2 The Ping-pong from one department/person to another

We aren’t saying that every team member that answers the phones should be able to answer every question, schedule every patient and know everything about your practice.  However, we are saying that if you are trying to book new patients, increase your surgery numbers and grow your practice, this process needs to be smooth.  If at all possible, the fewer people touching a call, the better.

The goal of that call (for your team) should be to remove obstacles, understand the patient’s pain points, gather more information on their need for your services and book an appointment.  That is a skillset that needs to be developed in your staff. Not every staff member has this particular combination of abilities.  So, creating a phone tree with your best phone staff leading the way can really help to turn those call into consults.

The initial call should not replace the consult.  The prospect should leave the call feeling better about your practice, more comfortable with their options and hopefully an appointment to see you.

#3 Stuck on the phone (for 15 minutes) with the operator

Yes, sadly this happened many times!

Not all offices have a call center or even a scheduling team, we get it.  There are better ways than just leaving a potential new patient hanging on the line waiting to speak to someone. 
While we understand that someone may not be available to answer a new call due to other calls or office duties, it would be nice to give the option to either leave a voicemail or set a time for a call back.

Understanding how many potential patients are calling in should help you decide to either transfer tasks away from your scheduler or know when it’s time to add another scheduler to your team. So keeping up with this data point is an important business detail to track.

What's the bottom line for the initial call?

If you are spending advertising dollars each month to drive leads and increase your consultations, please make sure that when you set your call to action as “call today” your team is ready for the call. For help with this and other marketing needs, please give MD Integrated a call!  As an advertising agency with a focus on medical and healthcare accounts, we understand what it takes to fill your waiting rooms!  817-527-6558


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