Consumerism and satisfaction-driven patients are driving steep change in our industry. Now, more than ever, your patients are seeking more pleasant, convenient and meaningful healthcare interactions. While a provider’s bedside manner goes a long way, the billing process is an area where patients are heavily involved, but an area that also might be neglected by some healthcare organizations. In the face of industry change, the front desk team is your customer service linchpin responsible for the experience and perception patients have of your practice; it’s time to ask more of them in order to step up to meet these shifting times.
Front-office teams need to be skilled communicators, energetic people and confident multi-taskers capable of putting sick patients at ease one moment and collecting payments from them the next, all while helping to guide the flow of patients through your office.
Evolving the front-desk role – and then retaining the best talent – requires a shift in mindset, in how you hire, pay, and train your front desk teams. As you’re looking at ways to increase patient experiences, here are three tips for making sure you know your team will succeed by re-thinking and retaining your front-desk staff:
- Increase the pay. Front-desk teams have more complex responsibilities now than in previous years and require a broader skill set. At the same time, unemployment rates are currently fairly low, which boosts competition for available resources. Increasing the salary of the front-desk team will help attract better talent and regular raises will help keep them. This approach will also help contribute to a sense of greater pride and engagement across your teams, which will make for a happier, healthier work culture.
- Search out new skill sets. Evolve job descriptions to match your changing needs for front-desk workflow. Today’s front-desk staff need advanced problem solving, multi-tasking, and technology skills, of course. They also need to be confident discussing the balances patients owe and be comfortable discussing cost estimates and payment options, and then collecting payments from your patients. By searching out these skill sets initially, you’ll find team members who will be more satisfied and successful in their roles.
- Better training. According to an August MGMA Stat poll, 47% of healthcare organizations say customer service is where their staff needs more training. Ongoing training and cross training is vital to your revenue cycle team satisfaction and retention, not to mention your practice’s efficiency. When adding this ongoing training, it’s also important to show teams the broader impact of their actions on the organization as a whole. For instance, help them understand the value their role plays in the overall flow of patients and in their satisfaction: why providing an estimate in advance is helpful to patients, how their willingness to educate patients on billing options (such as payment plans, credit card on file, online payment, and more) can shorten payment lifecycle.