Neil H. Baum, MD, presented “Time to Cut Down the Phone Tree” for the Grand Rounds in Urology audience in January 2022.

How to cite: Baum, Neil H. Time to Cut Down the Phone Tree.” January 2022. Accessed Apr 2024.

Time to Cut Down the Phone Tree – Summary

Grand Rounds in Urology Contributing Editor Neil H. Baum, MD, Professor of Urology at Tulane Medical School, discusses the problems with phone trees and gives suggestions for how medical practices can replace them. He observes that a telephone call is typically the first interaction between a patient and a doctor’s office, so the experience should be a good one. However, Dr. Baum argues, phone trees can make that first impression a negative one since phone trees can be difficult to navigate, can result in callers being on hold for a long time, may force callers to restart the lengthy process if the call is dropped, and may make it difficult for callers to leave a message. To determine whether a phone service is causing problems, Dr. Baum recommends conducting a survey of patients with questions about how quickly the phone was answered, how long callers were placed on hold, how difficult the phone tree was to navigate, and whether callers were able to speak to a human. He then gives three suggestions on how to cut down the phone tree including: conducting a telephone traffic study to determine when to make sure a greater number of people are available to answer the phone; increasing phone availability to include early and late hours when working people are available; and trimming or removing the phone tree to make the process simpler.

For more commentary on practice management from Dr. Baum, visit his Improving Your Urology Practice page.