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How I became the Front Office GURU

Many of us got into the health field to “help others“; it’s what most of us would say if someone asked. Why we got into private practice could result in an infinite number of responses; but suffice it to say that all our medical training didn’t prepare us to be private practice owners! That training that has been left to on-the-job experience and that is where things can get very difficult for us.

Just like most private practice owners, Mike and I didn’t learn how to be an owner/manager in PT school. We learned how to diagnose and treat patients. Period. So, when we bought our practice in 2005 we had only a little knowledge of how to be a manager – knowledge we learned from large corporations with lots of money and even less reliance on high quality staff; hence, not a lot of training on how to “be” an owner and manage people.

In 2011 our private practice was doing “OK”; insurance payments were still in a good range for our area, we could afford to pay the bills and salaries every month, and we were making an income off the practice. My husband knew though that health care was changing and he had already noticed a significant drop in reimbursements. If we didn’t do something, he knew that our clinic might not survive. So, Mike started working with a consulting firm that helped him learn how to be an owner and a manager.

Up until 2012, I hadn’t worked with Mike in our practice; I had my own career in physical therapy and worked with an entirely different patient population. But in 2012, as Mike got trained in how to really manage his practice, things started booming. The more he promoted the more LSTC grew. In the first 6 months he hired 5 new team members and grew the patient visits by 30%! At that point, he needed help managing the clinic growth and the staff that went with that. And so, I accepted a new challenge: to start working in the practice and to run the front end (front desk, marketing, hiring, training)

When I took over our front office, several things became very clear:

  • There were no systems in the front office; no way of tracking patient visits, no way of controlling cancellations, and no system for ensuring patients did what we needed them to do regarding their POC.
  • Eeyore worked at my front desk. For anyone who has read the stories of Winnie the Pooh you know that Eeyore is a really ineffective low-tone person who has no control over his life and no inspiration to do so.  Yikes!
  • We were hemorrhaging patient visits on a daily basis which was costing us tons of money and adding lots of stress.
  • Our collections from patients were horrible AND we were having a horrible time collecting on the back end once they had completed care.
  • We didn't have any set training for staff and no handbooks for handle situations that came up so they always became my problems.

it was evident that something had to change

So I did the following:
  • I worked in my front office and learned everything I could about how it ran, how it needed to run, where we were lacking, and what we needed to track.
  • I created front office systems for tracking patient visits, new patients, cancellations, and discharges.
  • I wrote down the front office expectations and made sure that these job duties were in alignment with the products I expected from the front desk / front office.
  • I developed a checklist for the front desk to ensure consistency among shifts.
  • I designed a training program for my front desk reps to ensure that everyone had the training they needed.
  • I developed a hiring process that weeded out the losers and left us with the rock stars and I hired 2 incredible women to run our front desk.

With this now in place, our front office boomed!  Since the 4th quarter of 2012, our patient arrival rate has been 95% or higher week after week. Our daily front end collections are 98% and our staff are highly skilled at handling patient objections to prevent cancellations, scheduling issues, and drop offs. They're in control of their positions and are able to assess the situation themselves when stats are dropping and then make the changes needed to correct it. This is how a well-run front office should operate.

What made me start Front Office GURU?

In the spring of 2016, I went to a conference where I met a large group of private practice owners - all who were looking to improve how their practices ran. While and the conference, and for most of the summer, I found myself answering a lot of questions about how we were able to implement systems that improved our overall clinic efficiency and organization.

In late August, I realized that I wasn't meeting my life's purpose any longer. You see, I became a PT because I enjoyed helping others and I even started working in the clinic to help others; BUT even long before early 2016, I began to realize that the clinic was a well-oiled machine. We only had to make small changes or corrections to keep it running smoothly. I no longer had someone to help. 

And then I realized how I could meet my purpose of helping others:

To start a consulting business designed to help other private practice owners achieve the same results we have in our clinic so they can have continued viability and growth for as long as they own their own practice. 

So, I started Front Office GURU with the primary goal helping private practice owners establish systems and set training in their front office to improve efficiency and organization. My main focus would be on one-on-one training of front office staff in easy to use systems and educating them on how to get their products each day.

Through this process the front office staff will have increased ability to take control of their responsibilities and have a better understanding of their role in the clinic. Owners will improve their understanding of how to manage the front desk without having to step in to get a task done.

If you are interested in a improving your front office through staff training and the implementation of systems, click the link below to schedule a FREE Discovery Call to learn more and get started on a new path TODAY.

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