First impressions count--When a patient walks into the waiting room they are either walking into a warm and inviting environment or a stark and cold one. How you present your practice to the patients starts way before you see them in the exam room. For the receptionist a patient’s visit starts with the same, and sometimes monotonous, procedures like asking for insurance information, paperwork and answering questions. If the practice is large, this might be a good time to suggest hiring candidates specifically for phone triage. If the practice is small, create a way to delegate responsibilities at the front desk. Instead of having all receptionists answer the phones make it only one or two people’s job. If the office runs smoothly patients are much more likely to feel comfortable about the capabilities of the physician. Some physicians may not feel like their staff is a direct reflection of them and this is a common mistake. You might value patient satisfaction as a physician, but if the front desk is doing a mediocre job patients will think that you must not care as well. Patients are much more likely to return to an office where receptionists, medical assistants, nurses and physicians work well with one another. If a patient is frustrated after dealing with disgruntled employees this will take away from important time spent with the physician.
Schedule one day a week where staff is able to come in 15-20mins before the days begins and use that time to have a meeting. This should be something that is understood by both current and prospective employees. Another way to ensure the practice is functioning well is by having a formal orientation for new employees making sure there is a set time for training at the start of employment. Training could take two weeks or possibly more depending on the job responsibilities. During this time period new employees should have ample time to learn what is expected of them from them professionally and how to carry out job responsibilities in an effective and timely manner.
If your practice is being managed properly then learning and professional development will be valued. All employees, whether they are receptionists, medical assistants, nurses or physicians, should undergo training for how to respond and engage with patients. The waiting room might just be the start of a patient’s visit, but it says a lot about how the office runs on a daily basis. If there are major issues in the waiting room physicians are unaware of that makes the patient think that there is very little communication between the physicians and the receptionists. When all employees are on the same page regarding how to care for patients then you will see the organization flow from check-in, treatment, and follow-up.
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