Better GP receptionist training in good communication skills might help boost measures of patient experience and satisfaction with their surgery’s performance. | OnMedica | British Journal of General Practice
Research published in the British Journal of General Practice assesses how receptionists interact with patients on the phone, in a bid to pinpoint aspects of communication associated with effectiveness and patient satisfaction.
The researchers carried out a qualitative conversation analysis of incoming calls, recorded ‘for training purposes’, in three English GP surgeries. Data were analysed qualitatively to identify effective communication, then coded to establish the relative prevalence of communication types in each surgery.
The first 150 calls (according to recording time) from each surgery, were selected for detailed analysis. In total, 447 calls were analysed, all of which were transcribed verbatim.
Analysis of the calls showed that the onus lay with patients to drive calls forward and achieve effective service when receptionists failed to offer alternatives to patients whose initial requests could not be met, at the start of the call or when they failed to summarise relevant next steps at the end of the call, when the appointment or service had been completed but some detail remained unclear to the patient.
The researchers conclude that patients in some practices have to ‘push’ for effective service when calling GP surgeries, but that receptionist training in good communication skills could help improve patient experience and satisfaction.
Full reference: Stokoe, E et al. Calling the GP surgery: patient burden, patient satisfaction, and implications for training British Journal of General Practice. Published 16 August 2016