• Janise

Engaging Patients over the phone: V 3

Sometimes as Community Health workers, we wear multiple hats and take on multiple roles for our community at once. One of those roles could be engaging patients over the phone to receive services. Sometimes services are new to them and sometimes they are aware of it from seeing it at the providers office.

Keep in mind that you can use your imagination to self-reflect and tailor your behavior.

For example, if someone were to call YOU and that person was hesitating, had no information about you and sounded like a robot, then chances are, you will not trust this phone call and hang up as soon as possible like you would a telemarketer. (Annoying).

Here are some tips on what to consider when you are embarking on this goal:

  1. 1. Prepare first: Always review as much as you can about the person before you call.

  2. https://www.ted.com/talks/celeste_headlee_10_ways_to_have_a_better_conversation

  3. Make sure their information is highlighted so you do not ever make the mistake of confusing one person's information with another person. Always have the persons information ready just in case you forget something on the spot. Always have your computer open and document what you need to document either during the call or right after the call. If you can type without someone knowing, then do so, if you cannot, then do it after the phone call so you don't disrespect someone by having them pause so you can type. (Some other information you can have in front of you is their full name, DOB, current address, where the referral is coming from, their diagnosis & any prescribed medication, last ER visit and/or last PCP visit and more. If you have less information like just their name, phone number and doctor name, then you will need to establish trust over the phone through the words you choose to help them see the benefit of receiving your assistance and staying on the phone.)

Know your program (structure/time frames/who is charge/who's paying/what to do in case of an emergency), ins and outs, what information the assessments want (do not ask someone question after question)! offer them freebies, make sure your education is up to date & deliver it in a short... fun way, stick to the goal of the call and stay solution focused.

2. Find questions to ask that are worded in a conversational way and that can answer more than one question at a time. For example, asking someone how they have been managing their asthma can mean many things:

If they say fine, you can ask for how long you've been fine? > If they say for a long time now...almost a few years, then you have your answer! You can conclude that they haven't been to the ER or had an asthma attack in a while.
Usually, people will tell you when something had happened. You can follow up with a question like "did anything happen? or Any emergency? and if they say "No," then its safe to assume that their asthma is well managed.
For someone who says "it hasn't been fine," ask them to tell you everything, like how many times they have been to the ER, do they use a lot of medication, how many attacks they had and where were they, or what was happening at that time?!
You can ask if they think their house has anything that might trigger their asthma in it? Describe it for me? Do you like to clean or is it as annoying as I see cleaning? tell me all the details and then I can see if something that you tell me is a key point we can just brush over.

(Ex: Good morning, I am the Community health worker calling from (or working with Doctor ___from____). I am calling to follow up with you on your last visit (or check your refills) and to complete a referral from your doctor to receive a quick service from me. The service is that I will ask you some quick questions ( a mini-assessment) about your home so I can offer you some cool tips designed for asthma/allergies, I will send you a free specialized blanket from the hospital in less than a week) and then I will call you in about a month to complete one last follow up. If you have any roaches or mice, complimentary of this service, you will receive free extermination services. Do you have a few quick minutes)

3. Word Choice is everything and either makes or breaks your phone call. Paired with this, is that even if you say the wrong thing, how you come back from it matters and can you can still save any phone call. Face it, everyone makes mistakes, but there are some people who know how to always say the right words to make someone forgive them and carry on.

Exercise: Think about this type of person, what would they say or do? Write it down. or if your a natural at it, awesome!

  • A simple "my apologies, let me re-explain" or "you know what, I made a mistake, my apologies, let me back track a bit" or "actually, I'm mistaken, may I please say it the way I need to say it one more time..."

4. Check yourself- Know your own biases and stereotypes and know how people may see you. In Social work, there is something called transference and counter transference that can affect our interactions with others in general and not just over the phone.

-Transference is when you meet someone and they say you remind them of somebody they know or have met before even if its as simple as some other worker they had a disagreement with. This can happen through you reminding them of someone because you have the same name as that person.

-Counter transference is when someone reminds you of someone you met before and this can happen even if its just through reading someone's name before you call them.

What are the tools that we can try to consider: Motivational Interviewing & Positive Psychology

Part 2 Health Coaching and Motivational
• 1.43MB

Part 4 positive_psychology_behavior chan
• 1.59MB

Lets Summarize

What to do?

Make a plan.

Remember what separates you from other people & use it.


What are some No's that we get and what are some things that we can say to persuade ourselves out of these answers. Test yourself, how can you seal the deal now & stick to the goal: (Apply a technique for a bonus)

o Am I going to be charged?

o Who's paying for this?

o How did you get my information?

o Can you call me back?

o I only have 5 minutes.

o I need help with housing.

o Suggestion:_(Volunteer)___________________

o If I get IPM will I get COVID from the exterminator?

o I don't have asthma medication.

In conclusion:

Prepare-Review patient information and questions

  1. Remind yourself to stay solution focused

  2. Focus on the patient-know what you are going to say

  3. Close with a plan

Document right away- Never wait until the last minute

Educational Exercise: Think about how you would do a home assessment over the phone. What questions would you ask?

Think about how you yourself would like to listen to health education over the phone? What would or wouldn't work for you?

Role Play Exercise in Breakout rooms-->>(10 minutes-2 Groups)

Role Play Exercise

In conclusion:

Prepare-Review patient information and questions

  1. Remind yourself to stay solution focused

  2. Focus on the patient-know what you are going to say

  3. Close with a plan

Document right away- Never wait until the last minute