Your front office staff has a great deal of influence on patients’ overall experience. When staff is prompt and professional, patients are likely to have a positive experience. When they are rushed and curt, patients — particularly new patients — are more likely to be dissatisfied with your healthcare practice as a whole.
Beyond hiring promising candidates, providing excellent job training, and outlining behavior expectations, it might seem as though you don’t have much control over your front office staff. (It’s not like you can provide close supervision if you are in the back of the office providing care to patients.) However, there are a number of ways you can support and encourage staff so they help you achieve your goals of attracting and retaining patients.
Most healthcare providers would spare no expense to create a waiting room that delights patients, but they don’t think twice about the physical environment they create for their front office staff. As a result, staff receive hand-me-down chairs and old or inefficient technological equipment. In many cases, their areas — behind the front desk and in the employee break room — are used for storage, which can cause them great irritation or make them feel unappreciated.
Take a quick look at the areas in the office where your staff spend their days. Do they look like areas where you would want to work? If the answer is no, ask your staff what you can do to make improvements. Small changes — like swapping out old furniture or stocking the break room with free healthy snacks — can make a big difference in employee happiness.
In many healthcare practices, front office staff spend most of their days booking and confirming appointments. Not only is this tedious for your staff, it’s also inopportune for patients who must wait to be greeted and served. If your office is bogged down by an endless stream of phone calls, you might want to consider practice management software that enables online booking and automated booking confirmations.
Online booking allows patients book whenever and wherever they want without picking up the phone. By reducing call volume, you empower your staff to complete other more important tasks that they might otherwise put off. As an added bonus, healthcare practices that enable online booking can reduce no-shows and easily fill open appointment slots up to the last minute.
Even if you know your front office staff well, some administrators might possess talents or skills that might surprise you. Talk to each member of your staff about their interests. Then, think whether any of these interests could be utilized within your healthcare practice.
“Give someone on your team one of the things you own,” says Nicole Shariat Farb, founder of DIY networking website Darby Smart. “It empowers them. It creates room for you to be more strategic. It will help your company grow.”
One area where office staff could be greatly helpful is marketing your practice. A staff member who is an avid photographer, for example, could take photos to share on your website and review websites. Or a staff member with a knack for social media could give you ongoing reports of what’s trending online. They might be able to help you carve out a social media strategy or even post on your behalf.
For more tips on how to attract and retain patients, check out the blog post “5 patient retention strategies proven to work for healthcare practices.”
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