This article is written by Brooke A. Day, administrator and business office manager at Hastings Surgical Center.
The amount of information presented to each individual on a daily basis can often be overwhelming based upon the number of tools we have at our disposal to receive information. Communication is distributed via text, phone, e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, iPads, iPods and many other methods so what is the best way to communicate with the surgeon receiving more information than necessary on a daily basis?
Surgeons are engaged in constant communication with their patients, their staff as well as their personal contacts so it is important to consider the type of information you are trying to communicate before deciding the method.
Social Media: There are many physicians that have not joined social media and may not plan on joining to avoid allowing the opportunity for patients to overwhelm them with communication. If you have a Facebook page or a profile for other social media sites they may choose to follow as a courtesy but this should not be a preferred method of communication between your center and the surgeon.
Text: Questions that involve short answers and do not require significant thought or decision making are easily communicated via text. We often text surgeons to confirm their vacation dates or surgical schedule times. We text all physicians on a daily basis with their start times not only as a courtesy but also if we need to send them a friendly reminder they have another surgeon directly after their case and any delay they cause will cause a delay for the surgeon following them.
E-Mail: All information presented to the Board and owners is communicated via e-mail. Board members regardless of their preferred method of communication have adapted to this method and understand that although it may be an additional step for them, it is the fastest way to communicate information that arises between quarterly meetings. There was an adjustment period but once they realized they were missing information that others had reviewed they understood the importance of accessing and reviewing this information.
Phone: Sensitive information that needs to be communicated to individual surgeons as well as the Chairman or Medical Director should be conducted by phone or in-person. Communicating a complication or adverse incident would be unprofessional if handled via text or e-mail. If a surgeon is difficult to reach via phone a text stating “call me” would be more appropriate than going into detail about the incident and the ramifications.
Person-to-Person: This is still the best way to communicate with your surgeons, fostering the relationship between the surgeons, yourself and the center is critical to the success of your center and could increase case volume. Surgeons appreciate your desire to gain their input on improvements that could be made as well as the items you could do to accommodate them, their offices and patients. It is important to reach out to them at least once a month depending on how frequently they visit your center. Speaking to a surgeon between a case can not only increase their overall satisfaction but it can also distract them from focusing on the turnover time between cases.
The last consideration when deciding the method of communication is the surgeon’s preferred method of communication. There are surgeons that refuse to accept communication via e-mail and will not provide an e-mail address to avoid using this method. If a surgeon communicates their preferred method of receiving information it is to your advantage to accommodate their request regardless of whether it is more time consuming or costly. If a surgeon prefers to receive information via mail, print the e-mail you sent to the other physicians and mail to their preferred address.