Sort urgent messages to avoid delayed callbacks

See how your medical practice can develop a better system for returning phone calls from patients.

Q. My practice has been having problems with phone messages reaching physicians. Patients have been complaining about delayed or no callbacks. Any advice on how a paper-based practice should route messages?

If the doctor is not in the office, then his or her messages should go to the telephone nurse who can handle the call or find the doctor. The doctor is responsible for checking in periodically with the nurse while out of the office. Don't let poor message-handling jeopardize good patient care or the goodwill of your practice.

Answers to readers' questions were provided by Judy Bee, Practice Performance Group, La Jolla, California. She is an editorial consultant for Medical Economics. Send your practice management questions to

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