Advantage and Disadvantage of Telecommunication

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Communicating
with patients
The New Medicine Service (and MURs)
provides a formal opportunity for
pharmacists to communicate with patients
on a one-to-one basis about their medicines
and underlying medical condition(s). The
NMS permits the interventions to be done
either as a face-to-face appointment or via
telephone. Careful consideration must be
given as to which of these communication
methods is adopted by the pharmacy as
each method brings its own advantages and
disadvantages.
Although face-to-face communication
would be the preferred method of
conducting an intervention, it is likely that
telephone interventions will be used by most
pharmacies at some stage. This brief guide
will help you and your staff communicate
more effectively when using the telephone
as part of the NMS.
The words we use make up less than 10%
of the way we communicate in a face-toface situation, with the way we say these words (paralinguistics) and body language
making up the remaining percentage.
When you are dealing with someone over
the telephone you cannot see them, which
deprives you of most of the information you
would normally have about the other person
(body language, eye contact etc). You can
base your judgements only on the words you
can hear and the way they are being said,
which can sometimes present challenges.

Advantages and
disadvantages
Some of the advantages and disadvantages
of telephone communication are:

Telephone
communication
Advantages of communicating
by telephone:
ofteneasiertoreachsomeonebyphone
than by trying to arrange to see them in
person; more convenient for patients
morelikelytosucceedincontacting
someone – especially if a time / date has
been agreed (few people are able to ignore
the telephone and leave it ringing)
telephoneconversationsare,onaverage,
shorter than face-to-face conversations as
it’s easier to control the conversation and
take the initiative.
Disadvantages of communicating
by telephone:
it’smoredifficulttoestablisharapporton
the telephone, as you don’t have all the
visual signals that help you to get on the
“same wavelength” as the other person
whenphoningsomeoneit’spossibleto
intrude at an inconvenient time and not
realise it
it’seasytoassumethatyouhavetheother
person’s undivided attention
youaremorelikelytogetdistractedand
let your attention wander
itismoredifficulttoavoid
misunderstandings – you cannot use visual
behaviour to get feedback on whether your
message has been understood or if there are
things left unsaid
somethingsareimpossibletocheckover
the telephone such as inhaler techniques
youaremorelikelytobelieveyoucando
other things at the same time as using the
telephone – DON’T!

Voice matching
Thefirstthreesecondsofaphonecall
are important, as this is when the other
person makes a judgement about the caller.
When making an outgoing call listen to the
pitch, speed, volume and tone of the other
person’svoicewhentheyfirstspeakandtry
to “match” it. Matching is a good way of
building rapport, which can otherwise be
difficultoverthetelephone,andmakesthe
other person feel more comfortable.

Tips for effective
telephone
interventions

Opening the conversation

NMS intervention

Introduce yourself clearly and ask to speak
to the patient using their preferred title /
name. Check it’s still convenient to speak
to the patient. If the patient is concerned
about disclosing sensitive personal
information over the telephone and cannot
besatisfiedthatthecallerisringingfrom
the pharmacy he / she may contact the
pharmacy directly instead. Explain in a clear,
simple manner the purpose of the call –
check the patient understands the nature of
the NMS and the reasons for the discussion.
Youshouldalsoconfirmconsentatthis
stage.

Inform the patient you...
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