Advice for effective telephone consultations:

Adapted from work by Kelly Skelly and Marcy Rosenbaum, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics

Remove distractions – avoid multi-tasking

  • Identify the patient
  • Check that it is a good time to talk (safe/confidential)
  • Warm greeting – smile!!
  • Warm tone of voice, verbal encouragements
  • “uh huh, OK etc.”
  • Try to connect on a personal level
  • Refer to previous calls, do you know the patient or their family already?
  • Summarise periodically

Pacing and Language

  • Speak slowly and clearly
  • Avoid jargon
  • Pause after asking questions
  • Give patient space to ask questions



    • Use explicit empathic statements – “that sounds really tough”

Agenda Setting

    • Find out the patient’s ideas, concerns and expectations
    • Negotiate what can’t be covered in this call

Ending the call

    • Signpost – “We have just a couple of minutes left, I want to go over what we have discussed and plan the next steps”
    • Clarify the plan
    • What happens next?
    • Safety netting