Patient disputes appointment time?

Conversations are recorded

All conversations that come into central scheduling are recorded and are used for two purposes, says Mike Horton, manager of the central scheduling department at Hackensack (NJ) University Medical Center.

One is to provide a “teachable moment” for staff. “We have staff listen to their own recorded calls as a means of citing specific examples where improvements could have been made or to highlight exemplary performance,” says Horton.

The recordings also play a pivotal role in conflict resolution and addressing patient disputes. At times, Horton has had to play a recording for a patient to clear up miscommunications or to prove that the correct information was given at the time of scheduling. “More often than not, these calls tend to vindicate staff more than they implicate them,” says Horton.

The goal is not to embarrass the patient, but rather to show that staff are listening intently and care deeply, he emphasizes.

“If you show good faith and are clear that the purpose of recording the call is not to put the patient down or tell them ‘I told you so,’ it’s been our experience that most patients walk away with a positive perception,” Horton says.