Your front office staff are the main point of contact for anyone who calls or walks into your office. And if you leave that position to someone who is untrained or not very skilled, you might as well be playing roulette with your marketing dollars.
Your front office needs Patient Care Coordinators who manage patients and ensure they're properly scheduled and arriving for care.
Your front office needs Patient Care Coordinators that are experts at managing patients.
But where do you find Patient Care Coordinators? You don't find them, you create them. And to create highly skilled Patient Care Coordinators, you need the right staff, excellent training, proper drilling, and a way to track their success.
As part of my coaching and consulting, I strongly advocate calling your front office staff, Patient Care Coordinators instead of front desk reps, medical receptionists or receptionists.
Over the years I've found that the better defined a position is, the more the people I hire understand what's expected.
Defining the position that directly manages your patients, their schedule and their care as the Patient Care Coordinator gives a clear, concise description of what's expected.
When we call them receptionists, front office reps or medical receptionists, we don't provide a clear picture of our expectations of the position and we end up with what we promoted; basically, someone who thinks their primary responsibility is to answer the phones.
Let's face it, no one calls or walks into your practice unless they need help and your front office staff are their first point of contact. People don't get the help they need unless they are seen by the clinician BUT they won't make it to the clinician if the front office staff aren't highly skilled in handling objections and managing patients. Can your front office convert all those people who call the practice into scheduled and arriving new patients? Do they identify all the calls they should identify as potential patients seeking help? The answer in most cases is no because they haven't been trained to handle objections and many have a fear of it.
To create a Patient Care Coordinator, the next step is training.
The better trained they are in handling objections and coordinating patients' care, the better they do at managing their patients and the overall schedule. And, the better the practice does.
You may have found, like most practice owners and managers, that most front office staff 'fell into their current career', some may be new to this field altogether. Unlike physical and occupational therapists or veterinarians, who spend many years learning the theory behind the skills they use every day and then drilling the necessary skills over and over until they're masters, most front office staff have NEVER had formal training available to them. In fact, most got on the job training around arriving and departing patients, it was rushed, and it was done by a co-worker who also received on the job training. Sound familiar?
Imagine, the very first contact your potential patients have is with someone who doesn't have formal training in how to identify and convert those in need to a scheduled and arriving new patient. Imagine how many more people you could be helping? Would that provide you with more certainty as an owner or manager? Would your practice thrive instead of merely coping or surviving?
So, how does one create a Patient Care Coordinator?
First, you need to find the right people for the job. Many times, someone with previous experience isn't the best fit because they bring habits they learned at a previous job; habits that don't convert patients, don't manage their care, and aren’t of benefit to you or the patients you serve.
Consider this: people who are afraid to confront others about things like expensive treatments, or consistent missed visits and cancellations cause a LOT of problems for you and for the patients that need your care.
When your front office is staffed with a receptionist or a representative and not a trained Patient Care Coordinator, you'll always have more empty schedule spots, lower arrivals and collections... and there'll be excuses why it can't be improved or why they feel that “people are adults and should make their own decisions”. So, be diligent in your hires and in your training.
Building a Patient Care Coordinator takes some effort and quite a bit of skill. They need guidance and support, someone who believes in them and their ability to learn. This builds confidence in self and a belief in their own ability – something many have lacked without formal training.
With their training, they need to learn how to speak to people to maintain control of any situation; this is done with scripts. Have you ever handed your staff a script but they didn't use it?
A script only works when someone understands the theory behind it and the purpose of using it and when it’s been drilled in repeatedly in situations that mimic common situations that occur at the front desk.
Do you remember doing this while you were training for your chosen profession? We, as PTs, OTs, and Veterinarians, consider ourselves experts in our fields…well we didn’t get there without drilling specific skills over and over. In fact we spent so many hours studying theory and then in practice...do you remember how many years it took you? No one was letting you learn on the job either...
Formal training is another necessity. Patients provide piles of excuses and objections that can interfere with or stop a them front getting care altogether. In order for your front office staff to be successful in their position, they need to have a good strong knowledge of what it takes to properly manage patients and ensure they’re getting the care they need to recover. Plainly stated, they MUST become ‘masters’ of patient handling and management. When they're masters in patient management, they'll be able to prevent a patient’s objections and excuses and get the patient scheduled and arriving for care. They'll know what it takes to be successful and they'll see the value in properly managing patients to help them get the care they need.
Lastly, to be highly successful in their positions, they need to take full responsibility for their position, their patients and for producing patients who are scheduled and arrive for care. To do this your front office staff need to know what they produce, and most importantly what specific actions to take to generate to get the desired results. Part of their training should help them to understand the statistics (or metrics) of the post and how to take ownership of those statistics. They should know how to evaluate their statistics and know what actions to take should the statistics drop. Without this important step you will never see them take full responsibility for their position.
A Patient Care Coordinator is highly skilled at knowing how to properly manage patients and they are constantly working toward the ultimate product of people helped. They don't make excuses, they take action and they manage your current patient list.
What if I told you that you could have your own Patient Care Coordinators and also have what you need to train future Patient Care Coordinators? What if you didn’t have to take the time away to create all this training? What value would you put on having a great patient management system that gave you complete confidence that your patients were being properly managed and being seen for care as prescribed? Better yet, what if you could build up someone's certainty of self, give them purpose, and provide them with the tools to success?
Front Office GURU provides all the training you need to create Patient Care Coordinators in your practice. As the owner or manager, you shouldn’t have to take time away from your busy day to create training or to test out 'new ideas' that may or may not work. Let me help you train your front office and provide you with the tools you need to train all new hires to be Patient Care Coordinators as well.
Wishing you the best, today and always, Dee