The Journal of Medical Practice Management, in its latest edition, had some interesting revelations that took the whole of America’s medical community to take a pause and THINK!
This time it was not on drug pricing or massive mergers or telemedicine apps that took the stage. It was the customer service and the significant role of your front desk staffs in it. The study says 96% of online patient complaints were on customer service not on physicians’ medical expertise or clinical skill.
This hints on the crucial role of your front desk staff in building your practice reputation and the need to keep them motivated at work. If your practice’s bad online reviews constantly points at the front desk and you notice high attrition or hear your staff complain on being stressful, then it’s time for you to act.
As practice administrators, this double edge sword of employee retention and patient satisfaction can be a real nightmare. But here are some actions which can help you achieve these effortlessly:
Minimize Patient-wait Time
Various studies unanimously infer that in terms of influencing patient satisfaction, waiting room trumps exam room. Front desk staff bears the brunt of longer wait-time as they are unequipped to optimize their efforts towards a faster patient intake. There’s a larger share of manual efforts involved during the check-in like handling paper forms, validating insurance, collecting co-pays, updating information etc. Undivided attention to patient intake alone is out of question as they would need to attend to phone enquiries and address patient concerns or complaints at the same time.
Practice administrators could look for a patient check-in solution which digitizes patient workflows and allow patients to complete check-in without going to the front desk staff for assistance. Patient Kiosk can prove to be a powerful tool to unclog your front desk area and provide more breathing room to your staff to focus on patients. Such solutions can automate repetitive and time-consuming efforts, and empower your staff to do higher-end work.
Optimize Patient Communication
According to MGMA study in 2016, practices receive more than 30 calls a day with at least 50% percent of the calls going to voicemail. And this is just one part of the front desk job. High call volumes can add to already stressed front desk environment.
Patients typically call front desk to confirm time of appointment, update insurance information or reschedule an appointment. Practice administrator can reduce call volumes by implementing solutions which allow patients to do majority of these activities on their own from home without calling to get help. Patients can be send emails with appointment reminders, pre and post visit instructions etc. which can significantly reduce the volume of calls to your front desk.
Today’s patients have high technology solutions at their fingertips to take more active decisions in their healthcare. Almost 70% of the millennials are interested in choosing a healthcare provider with a mobile app over one without.
When there’s a growing preference of using mobile amongst your customers, you shouldn’t take long to embrace it especially when it can help your front desk staffs.
Mobile app will move a lot of activities from your front desk staff to the hands of patients. Say, offering patients to pre-register and make payments via mobile app will offload a lot of efforts from your staff and also drastically reduce patient wait time. Mobile apps help in sustained patient engagement and connecting with patients gets easier than ever before.
Automate Payment Collection
Collecting patient payments has never been easy for front desk staff. On one side is the hassle involved in insurance verification or determining accurate co-pay, and on the other side is the uneasy payment conversation with patients.
Payment collection is one function where your front desk staff needs a right strategy in place, else staggering bad debts or nosediving revenue would be a daily affair. Practice Administrators can look for solutions that can automate insurance verification and offer digital payment options. Opting for a check-in solution with these features is a nothing-like-it option as it drives upfront payment collection resulting in minimal follow-up efforts from front desk staff.
Collect Feedback with Digital Surveys
As practice administrators, you need to understand real reasons for poor patient satisfaction. You also need to understand finer reasons that cause stress to front desk staff.
Surveys are the best way to get feedback but medical practices were slow in adopting this practice till HCAHPS was made mandatory. Also, paper-based surveys and the accompanied manual efforts on administration, data collection and analysis could have made this process look less appealing.
But it is no longer so as digital surveys can help you easily get feedback from both internal and external audience. Employing customizable surveys will further help to identify the root cause of various patient and staff issues which can be resolved in a targeted and time-bound manner.
Front desk staff are the unsung heroes of any medical practice and their wellbeing and efficiency at work can bring a measurable difference in customer service. As Richard Branson says “Loyal employees in a company create loyal customers, who in turn create happy shareholders”