Front office scripting for telehealth during COVID-19

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The number of medical practices adopting and expanding telehealth services grew rapidly in March and April after regulatory waivers helped open up the ability for more practices to offer and bill Medicare for these services.

The following sample scripts can help your front desk team manage the process of helping patients handling the shift to telehealth appointments.

Transitioning patients to telehealth during the pandemic:

Say: “Hello Mr/Ms _______ I am calling in regard to your appointment scheduled on _______ at ______ with _____. We would like move your appointment to a telehealth appointment so we can continue with your care.”

How you transition them:
You will need to explain to them exactly what to expect with a telehealth visit.
  • Type up exactly what your telehealth will entail — what it looks like. Your front office or care coordinator will impart this information. Make sure you include:
  • What it is — some patients don’t know what telehealth is, so you need to be able to tell them
  • What you will provide them and what they will receive
  • How much time they should allow for appointment
  • What platform to use and options for accessing it (PC, smartphone, etc.)
  • How to schedule
  • The cost (if possible)
  • Say: “Do you have any questions?”
Handle their objections and concerns. Don’t tell them what to do, just give them the reasons behind doing a telehealth visit instead of coming into the office.

If patient is willing to move appointment to a telehealth visit:

Say: “OK. Great, let’s go ahead and transition you to a telehealth visit so we can properly manage this at home.”

Remember they’re likely to be stuck at home for a while, so you’re laying the groundwork now.
  • If the practice is seeing specific patients on a “need” basis, staff will determine if the appointment needs to be canceled at this time or if the patient truly needs to come into the office. If it is determined that the patient needs to be seen, let the patient know what the team has done so that the patient feels safe coming in.
  • If they say no to a telehealth visit and do not feel comfortable coming in for a visit but are still a “high-risk” patient, say, “OK. I understand.” Put that patient onto a “tele-help” list: a list of patients the staff could check in on later depending on health history. This could be something a medical assistant (MA), registered nurse (RN) or front desk staff member could do while teleworking.
Once an appointment is set, send an email with telehealth info and tell them they can check in as well. Remind them to call the office if their pain or problems increase

Checking on at-risk patients during a crisis, between visits:

This is something that an MA, RN or front office staff member could do while teleworking.

Start by saying: “Hello Mr/Ms _______.”

Use one of these suggestions for possible questions depending on patient’s circumstance:
  • How are you doing?
  • How’s it going overall?
  • Do you have someone checking in on you?
  • Is there anything you need?
End your conversation with a “thank you” or “Have a great day” or “Please call us if anything changes.”

Be sure to document the call in the EHR.

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