Learn how to leave effective messages for your doctor or practitioner.

Imagine that you’ve awakened with a very sore throat.  You’ve been around family members that have had Strep throat, and you want to see someone today.  You call and leave a message, but after several hours, no one has returned your call.  What has happened?  Is the clinic simply very busy or were you forgotten?

Patient calls are very important to their providers. They work hard to respond to your messages in a timely manner.  Here are some recommendations to assist you in leaving a clear message and make it easier for your providers to serve you well.

Listen to the phone system options that are presented and choose the best path for your particular concern.

Always state your full name and birth date, and consider saying this information twice.  Your health record has to be located so that a phone note can be created for you. It can be quite challenging to locate your record without this information.  You may think your name is rather unique and would likely be surprised to know how many other patients share your name in an electronic health system.  Your provider may know you well as a patient, but may not know your address or exact age, which may be critical to finding your record without a birth date.

Give your telephone number with area code.  Say it slowly and repeat it.  You may have several numbers in your health record, so give the number where it will be easiest to reach you.

State the specific doctor, practitioner, or staff member to whom the message is directed.  This helps your message be quickly dispatched to the appropriate individual.

State the urgency of your message.  Do you want a call back within an hour, several hours or several days?  Are you simply leaving information and no call-back is needed?  An added plus would be to give an idea of the best time of the day when it is easiest to reach you.

Provide a brief summary of why you are calling.  Leave just enough detail for your clinic, your provider, or an answering service to understand how to serve you, but refrain from telling all the details—you will need to provide the details again when your call is returned.

If you are calling about a medication refill, always state the name of your pharmacy.  Although we may have a pharmacy listed in your health record, we want to confirm this every time we send a prescription.

(c) Trinity Integrative Family Medicine, Inc., glkocourek, Sep-2014; latest revision 09-May-2021.