Posted June 17, 2015

CG CAHPS: Improving Access and Responsiveness to Patients (Part 2)

By Kim Bass

In part one of this two-part insight series, we discussed tips to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of patient phone calls through call tracking and the use of AIDET®. In part two, we will cover the use of pre-and-post visit phone calls and leveraging the Electronic Health Record (EHR) portal as a way to improve access and responsiveness to patients.
Pre-Visit Phone Calls
Pre-visit phone calls reduce no-shows and late arrivals. They also improve patient perception of care, increase patient safety through an explanation of pre-procedure protocols, increase revenue, and improve access by creating greater capacity.
A basic pre-visit phone call format includes: 
  • confirming the appointment
  • explaining the procedure
  • reviewing instructions
  • providing directions to the facility
  • asking the patient to arrive early
  • reaffirming the necessity of the procedure
Here’s a sample pre-call script:
  • “Good morning, Mrs. Clark. This is Patricia from Dr. Smith’s office, and I am calling to remind you about your appointment Thursday at 10 a.m. Is this appointment confirmed on your calendar?”
  • “We look forward to meeting you then! Please arrive 15 minutes early to ensure that we can check you in and answer any questions you may have. Do you need directions to the office or parking information?”
  • “Dr. Smith is an excellent doctor and so sometimes there is a wait to see her. I recommend that you bring a book or magazine to read while you wait. We value your time and strive to run on time.”
  • “Do you have any questions for me? Thank you, we will see you [day or date and time], and have a nice day!”

Post Visit Phone Calls

Post-visit phone calls are about quality. When a patient receives a post-visit call, providers are able to confirm that the patient is to their treatment plan which can positively impact clinical outcomes.

Moreover, patients will know that we care about their health when we contact them to ensure they are recovering safely. We recommend offices make post-visit calls as they increase adherence to discharge plans and increase patient loyalty and perception of the provider.

Here’s an example of a post-visit call with a new patient.

  • “Ms. Brown? Hello. This is Cathy, the medical assistant from Dr. Baker’s office. Dr. Baker wanted me to call and see how you’re doing after your office visit yesterday. Is this a good time? We like to contact our new patients after their first visit to make certain that we answer all of your questions.” (Customize questions based on patient’s appointment/diagnosis.)
  • “Do you have any questions regarding your medications or any possible side effects? Have you filled your prescription yet?”
  • “Do you have any questions on your other care instructions?”
  • “We want to make sure we do excellent clinical follow-up to ensure your best possible outcome. Do you know what symptoms or health problems to look out for? What will you do if these symptoms occur?”
  • “Have you scheduled your follow-up appointment?”
  • “Ms. Davis, we like to recognize our employees when they’ve earned it. Who did an excellent job for you while you were in the office? What specific actions did they complete that made you feel this way?”
  • “We’re always looking for opportunities to improve. What suggestions do you have about how we could improve? (May choose to add specific questions regarding quality indicators such as hand washing, explanation of medications and side effects, etc.)”

Leveraging the EHR Patient Portal

Patients can grow increasingly frustrated if they call the medical practice to schedule an appointment or have an inquiry about their healthcare needs and they incur long on-hold times or you don’t have an automatic call distribution system and the phone only rings busy.

Increasingly, we are seeing medical practices use the patient portal to improve the timeliness and efficiency in communicating with patients.

What the patient portal can be used for:

Schedule appointments and email questions to provider Respond to patient messages in real-time or more timely manner and avoid playing phone-tag – less time involvement
Access information regarding clinic visits including test results Post lab results and clinical updates for patient
Request prescription refills Send patient after visit summaries

When using the patient portal for patient communication, a specific individual(s) should be identified to be responsible for reviewing all incoming messages and channeling the information to the appropriate clinician to resolve. Just like incoming phone messages, a system should be in place to ensure inquiries are addressed during the same business day.

Additional Resources:

  • Learn more about Patient Call Manager℠: The Clinical Call System - one of our most important tools for making patients an integral part of the collaborative care team by visiting studergroup.com/pcm.
  • The CG CAHPS Handbook provides tools and tactics to improve patient experiences and clinical outcomes, including improving patient access. Order your copy at firestarterpublishing.com.
  • Studer Conferences offer content for every area of the organization. Learn about our Physician Partnership tracks and CG CAHPS content at studergroup.com/conferences.

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  • Kim Bass

    Kim Bass

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