Updated: Apr 12
A dynamic front desk can increase your visits by 20%, maybe more if you have the room. On the other hand, a dysfunctional front desk can constrict the flow of patients and hold your office back.
I have seen instances of both.
There is much more going on and at stake at the front desk than most doctors and staff appreciate.
Ordinarily, you would think that the billing department is the most demanding. There are hundreds of details within it that need to be learned and followed with excellent discipline. This position requires professionalism and expertise.
But this function is not on the front lines of the constant patient, phone, and doctor interactions and interruptions. Managing patient accounts can be regulated and organized to maintain a calm and comfortable workflow.
Therapy and adjunctive services usually experience smooth patient flow, and they are not faced with unexpected patients or phone calls.
It is interesting to note that the front desk has the highest turnover in most offices.
But properly set up and managed, this department can be an engine of growth and stability in your office.
Let’s look at some of the more important attributes of the front desk:
It represents you and your services. It is your ambassador to the world outside your office. The front desk reflects what you stand for and the quality of your services.
It is the first and the last contact – and impression --with anyone in the office.
It can convert inquiries to new patient appointments.
Rapport and relationships. The front desk can provide world-class service to patients, improving patient retention, reviews, and referrals. (The 5 Rs)
Direct marketing. The front desk can directly promote clinic services to patients, hand out coupons, and promote upcoming events to generate patient referrals.
Team member support. The front desk can support the insurance department and all team members to create a positive, upbeat day every day.
Case Management. The front desk can contribute to case management by relaying any comments or observations relative to the patient’s care to the doctors.
Fully Scheduled Day. The front desk fills the appointment book and keeps it full.
Let’s imagine an ideal front desk and put it at a “5” on a 5 Point Scale.
5. GOAL DRIVEN FRONT DESK. The appointment book is full. The front desk staff are cheerful, having fun doing their jobs, and genuinely interested in every patient and phone inquiry. They sincerely care for each patient and non-patient. They have a strong intent on helping patients complete their programs by keeping their appointments. They personally and professionally want to achieve the mission of the office and encourage patients to help them accomplish this mission by bringing in family and friends. They also help the rest of the office achieve the office’s mission. They are sending out positive “vibrations” to help more people. They are proactive and Goal Driven.
Below this level, we find a front desk that is struggling.
2.5 A COPING FRONT DESK– The appointment book is 50-70% full. The front desk is trying, but it is not keeping up, which creates a bottleneck to patient flow. (Subluxated) Even though the staff wants a full appointment book, subconsciously, they don’t want any more work until they catch up.
2. A SLOW FRONT DESK. The front desk operates at a “comfortable” 40-50% capacity. The staff is pacing themselves, keeping up with computer tasks, insurance, and following the scripts for phone and patient encounters. However, they are mostly disengaged from the front desk and office goals.
1-2. GIVEN UP and BORED. I only describe this because I have seen this condition. The staff is ignored or badgered. In either case, they feel relegated to a 4th class employee. They hide out and pretend to work, essentially having quit and just waiting until something better comes along.
You can create a Goal Driven Front Desk. It is not achieved overnight, but once it is established, you’ll be close to a dream practice and a Goal Driven Business. We will cover some tips on how to create a Goal Driven Front Desk in another newsletter.
In the meantime, stay Goal Driven,
Your brain sends out vibrations all the time, and your thoughts affect your life and other people’s. They pick up these thoughts and get changed by them."
– Bruce Lipton (Biology of Belief)