A medical front desk personnel taking the temperature of a patient on arrival
Nov 11

Examining the Challenges Faced by Medical Front Desk Staff

Medical Front Desk Efficiency at Your Practice

Your medical front desk staff is your front line, the face of the practice, and the first person a patient will speak to when they need help. Due to their visibility in your practice and the role they play in displaying your practice’s overall values, it is important to refine this position and hire quality professionals. Regardless of how well qualified this individual may be, it is likely they will experience challenges in their role. Let’s examine those hurdles faced by your front desk staff and the best way to overcome them.

Wait Times, Frustrated Patients, and Transparency

We are going to lump all three of these together because often they go hand-in-hand. Long waits for scheduled appointments often leads to frustrated and unhappy patients. For many of us, we feel the same when we show up for our appointments and can sympathize with their frustrations. One thing the medical front desk staff cannot do is eliminate those wait times. Often, they do receive the negative emotions that come with the wait regardless.

For front desk staff members, it is important to be transparent with patients about wait times. If you know a doctor is running behind, let them know that you are expecting delays. If the provider, nurse, or other members of staff are able to provide you with a timeframe for the delay, let your patients know. This transparency will go a long way with patients as they try and rearrange their own schedules and prepare!

Handling Phone Volume

On average, how many calls would you wager your medial front desk staff handles a day? Between patient calls, referrals from other offices, results from outside labs, and more… it is likely your staff experiences upwards of maybe 100 incoming calls a day. These staff members also handle outbound calls for follow ups, prescription refills (depending your office’s use of e-prescribing software), referrals, and more. This means they are on the phone for a good majority of their day as well as handling patients that enter through your doors. Your medical front desk staff are busy handling patient needs!

While they are on the phone, it is important they maintain phone etiquette (even if they grow overwhelmed with the increasing call volume). Maintaining excellent phone etiquette helps to improve patient satisfaction and will help move the call along in a positive manner. For front desk staff that are inundated with calls, here are some solutions that could help decrease time spent on the phone:

  • Patient portal solutions (most systems allow patients to schedule appointments, pay bills, and access patient chart information)
  • Appointment reminder systems (send appointment reminders that allow patients to confirm or cancel appointments through phone call, email, or text)
  • Digital check-in solutions (allow patients to digitally check-in for an appointment to decrease calling in to confirm time or coming up to the desk to confirm arrival)

Fielding Complaints

At the end of the day, your medical front desk staff takes the brunt of the complaints from patients. These negative remarks usually range from long hold times, to waiting for an exam to start, to the quality of care received during an appointment. For a receptionist or another front desk worker, these complaints can be a drain. They are especially draining considering many of these circumstances are outside of their control. It is still beyond important for them to have empathy for the patient’s situation and to determine what the best way to address the remarks are.

Your medical front desk staff are integral to your practice and help to maintain efficiency, productivity, and healthy patient relationships. Take the time to evaluate the challenges that your front desk staff face and take strides to help them overcome them with solutions, transparency, and guidance.

Is your practice looking to implement solutions to help improve front desk efficiency? Visit our solutions marketplace to learn more or call us at 800.624.8832.

About the author,
Savanna Adams

Savanna is the Marketing Communication Specialist at Henry Schein MicroMD. She schedules emails to clients, prospects, and VARs, manages social media accounts, performs SEO research, writes blogs and eBooks, and much more while helping to support the simple yet powerful MicroMD solutions.

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