The enthusiastic response we received when we shared some of our ideas on how to survive front office chaos, prompted us to share specific solutions for some of the most common health practice front desk problems.
The front office staff is quite literally the first and last impression that a patient has of your practice. Having an effective front office encompasses more than just greeting patients. It includes efficiency, good communication, and compassion — and that is just the start.
Here are 5 potential problem areas, how they impact your patient, and ways that you can improve patient satisfaction and your bottom line.
Hiring the wrong people for the job causes an increase in errors, a decrease in patient satisfaction and a significant drop in the overall efficiency of your practice.
Hiring for a health office front desk is critical and always more difficult than it seems. Look for detail-oriented applicants with great communication skills, strong customer service experience, an aptitude for complex paperwork and an understanding of computer systems. If you cannot find all of these skills in one person, it may be that the job requires two or more employees.
Often a patient sees three or four employees before they even have a chance to speak with you. Although friendly employees foster good relationships with patients, they also need professional experience and technical skills in order to be able to handle a health office front desk position.
Waiting Room Frustration
Everyone understands that sometimes healthcare providers get behind schedule. While this can get annoying, and cause the patient to complain, there are ways to ease the frustration.
Listen, communicate, and respect the patient’s time. If the office is behind schedule when the patient arrives, let them know right away. If the estimated wait time gets longer, update the patient as soon as you can. If the patient is frustrated, offer to reschedule their appointment.
One of the most important aspects of customer service is to maintain open communication.
Uncomfortable Waiting Area
A welcoming healthcare practice requires a friendly staff and a comfortable environment.
Let’s face it, a waiting room is never the first place someone would choose to spend their day. Patients are often nervous, sick, uncomfortable or a combination of the three. Know your patients and think about what they would like. A couple of uncomfortable chairs and an Architectural Digest isn’t appropriate for a pediatrician’s office, just like a room full of toys would probably not be the right thing for a podiatrist. Give patients a comfortable chair, a complimentary bottle of water and free wifi to distract them from the fact that they’re waiting.
A front office staff that is warm and friendly is an enormous asset for sure, and does a great deal to help your customer service. However, for those days when things are running behind, a comfortable and inviting waiting area will do wonders towards keeping patients at ease.
Incorrect and incomplete forms are the number one cause of delayed and denied insurance claims. Denied claims are one of the most common patient grievances.
Set up effective communication between the front office and the billing staff or agency so that the proper information is gathered to submit claims. Then, create an iron-clad system to get up-to-date information. Review contact and insurance information with each patient at every visit. Note dates of every update.
Clear communication between the front office and the billing staff is vital to reducing denied claims.
Your front desk employees handle a wide variety of different responsibilities. The good news is that many common health office front desk problems can be avoided with some simple pre-planning. By providing a comfortable environment, better communication, and more effective operations, you not only improve patient satisfaction, you improve your practice as well. Happy, comfortable patients are a lot easier to treat than ones that are angry or frustrated.