Some providers understand how important an efficient, friendly staff is to the success of a medical practice. Others are surprised when patients who are unhappy about their experience with office staff file a formal complaint against the doctor or nurse.
As a healthcare provider, your front desk and other staff are vital to positive patient experiences. Your staff is often a patient’s first and last impression of your practice. And happy patients are more likely to be satisfied and less likely to complain, including when things don’t go quite right. They are also more likely to return, to refer others to you, and to review you favorably.
Here are a few tips to an effective, positive front desk:
- Ensure your staff timely greets each patient, even while juggling other tasks. A courteous staff is important. Be mindful of body language—make eye contact and look up from your computer screen.
- Many providers will bristle at this tip, but it is important to promptly see patients. Patients do not want to wait beyond a reasonable time; if they do, they may take that frustration out on you, including in the form of a formal complaint. If you encounter an unexpected delay be sure the staff advises the patient, apologizes, and offers to reschedule. Studies have confirmed that reduced waiting time leads to increased patient satisfaction and greater willingness to return.
- Ensure patient demographics information is current. If you can, provide any needed forms before the visit. Patients want to be efficient and avoid duplication.
- At checkout address any billing issues including copays or account balances. Make a billing person easily accessible to patients with questions or concerns.
- At checkout you can also offer to schedule a patient’s next appointment.
- Staff should be responsive to patients and avoid discussing personal matters in front of patients.