Working on the front desk at a healthcare clinic is very challenging, right?You have new patients coming for the first time, patients who want to pay and schedule appointments for next week, phone calls coming in asking you whether you offer shock wave therapy, phone calls for new patient appointments, laundry that needs to be washed and folded for your busy massage therapists, patients who want to try and buy that knee brace recommended by the physiotherapist, and you need to order your monthly clinic supplies.
Yes, to say you are busy is an understatement. And it doesn’t end there!
You’re also responsible for being the clinic ambassador, promoting all the clinic services and products. You’re equally responsible for the patients healthcare recovery. The emotional support you provide to patients is crucial, so you always have to be on top of your game. After all, patients coming into the clinic are in pain and they want to be around positive, friendly people.
And it doesn’t end there either!
On top of all of that, you still have to do billing and enter payment details into your clinic management software so you can balance at the end of the day and keep everything on track.
The list of "to do’s" is always so long and often you struggle to get it all done. And, with all the demands, you can’t help feeling wiped off your feet at the end of each day.
How can you get all of this done by just working 8 hours per day? Is there an easier way to manage it all?
Yes, as a matter of fact there is.
In this post you’ll learn:
- Practical tips from Courtney who has mastered the front desk and has 18 clinicians working at her clinic
- Why it’s so important that you get more efficient front desk systems
- 5 easy tactics to help be better and faster at the front desk
Running a Busy Clinic
I’ve been working with busy clinic owners for years and I used to own a network of multidisciplinary physiotherapy/ wellness clinics. I have A LOT of respect for the front desk team because they play a crucial role in the success of any clinic.
Front desk have many responsibilities, so much so that the overall clinic revenue is influenced by the front desk team. If you’re on the front desk team, the more calls you can answer, the more appointments you can book, and the higher your patient satisfaction will be - which inevitably equals more revenue!
I know as a clinic owner, we need to spend more time to appreciate our front desk teams and find ways to pay them more and elevate their careers.
I also enjoy being engaged as a customer at busy clinics and observing how they go about business.
For example, I absolutely LOVE massage therapy and go see my registered massage therapist Ashley, at Equilibrium Massage Therapy every two weeks - she is just awesome!
Equilibrium Massage Therapy is a very busy clinic in Victoria with 18 clinicians on site. When I arrived for my appointment, Courtney was on the front desk and she asked me for payment BEFORE my massage session with Ashley. I loved that idea so I asked her what other things she does to save time, and below I’ve got a combo of tips from both Courtney and I to share.
5 Easy Tactics To Upscale Front Desk Performance
Here are 5 tactics you can easily implement.
Courtney told me that 2 pm was the busiest for Equilibrium Massage Therapy because that was a shift change when the AM therapists finish and the PM therapists come in. For a clinic that has 18 therapists, that's a lot of patients coming in at one time, so if they didn’t have efficient systems, the front desk would be a chaotic mess.
1) Ask for payment before their sessionWithin most clinic’s, it’s fairly standard practice to ask for payment at the end of a session. Equilibrium Massage Therapy asks for payment up front because they have more free time in those gaps.
Though it may feel strange, think about this: When you go to the grocery store, do you eat the ice cream bar before you pay for it?
No. So why are you asking for payment after the appointment at your clinic?
I’m not sure how this process has eventuated to become standard practice but it really doesn’t make sense.
Imagine it from the patient’s experience.
They come into your clinic in pain and when they leave, especially if they had a massage treatment, they feel amazing and super relaxed. Do you really want to ruin that patient experience by asking them for money and booking future appointments for the weeks to come?
It would make better sense to have them pay and book upfront, then after their massage you can let them drift home and keep enjoying the moment.
2) Schedule future appointments before their session begins
Yes, I would even do this for new patients. Take their money upfront and tell them the physiotherapist is super busy and very popular so you want to make sure they get the appointments at the times they want.
Give the patient social proof to help close the sale.
For example, “John is a specialist back pain physio and he is super busy. Can I book your follow up appointment now to make sure you get the times you want so you can feel better?”
Or, “John is the best sports physio in town and he is super busy with local athletes. Can I book your follow up appointment now to make sure you get the times you want so you can feel better?”
Patients want to feel better so this method should work very effectively.
If a patient does ask why you book and pay upfront. Just explain that: “From our experience patients feel rushed to leave after their appointment so we make it easier and less stressful for you by doing all the work before your appointment.”
People are always happy when you put their best interests first.
3) Email new patient forms so they can fill out before they come
Now that people have smartphones that act like mini computers, they are checking their email constantly. Sending a reminder with their new patient form not only saves time but makes you look very professional too.
It also keeps patients on time when they are coming to see the therapist for their appointments, which is always going to make them even happier!
4) Get a headset
If I told you that most clinics are missing 25% of incoming phone calls would you believe me?
It's true. And here’s the thing.
As a front desk team member, the better you are at doing your job with the limited time you have, the better the clinic will do and the more opportunities the clinic will have, which includes higher pay or bonuses for you, too!
When you use a headset it increases your productivity and ensures you never miss a call. More calls, more booked appointments, happy clinic owner, happy you!
And you can even still do the laundry during breaks between patients and not ever miss a new patient phone call. :)
5) Get organized and review the day
The biggest tip Courtney, from Equilibrium Massage Therapy, shared was to get organized and review the day each morning.
At the start of the day, it’s usually quiet, so you have time to consider what the day is about to behold. By reviewing the day ahead you will know what patients are coming in, read the notes and prepare files, you will know which clinicians are working, and you'll be able to get everything organized.
At the start of the day, Courtney will pre-bill patients who have direct healthcare insurance. At the end of her shift, she will double check and make sure the pre-billed patients showed up and that everything was billed correctly. This way she is not waiting at the end of the day to do everything or rushed to bill after each patient.
PUT PATIENTS FIRST
Here is an incredibly important tip: If you are super busy and everything is all happening at one time, don't be like one of those medical office assistants who work at the doctor’s office and ignore all patients, especially new patients!
I don’t know about you, but being ignored just makes me angry. The same goes with patients too, and you don’t want to be dealing with angry patients.
You must always put the patients first and deliver excellent customer service. Help new patients through the new patient journey, make it a great experience for them. Patients are usually reasonable and understand you are busy, especially if you are a clinic like Equilibrium Massage Therapy where you have 18 registered massage therapists working.
All you need to do is LOOK at the patient, make eye contact, and acknowledge you will be with them in a few minutes. If they are in a rush and need to be somewhere else, just tell them you will call them on their mobile when you have a free moment (and make sure you do).
As you can see though, there are some simple ways of doing things differently to free up a little extra time and make each day flow a lot better.
Do you have some productivity or efficiency tips that have helped you get more done in less time? I’d love to hear about them so please leave your comments below.