Train and monitor your front desk personnel – a personal story

After finishing a meeting yesterday in the Medical Center, I decided to walk down the street a couple of blocks to say hello to a client. As I entered the office it was near noon, so the reception area was empty; the morning patient load was almost done. The receptionist informed the doctor I was there and I was told she had two more patients to see and then she would be available.

So I sat in a chair and started reading a magazine. While I was waiting, a woman walked in and told the receptionist that she wanted a copy of her medical record. “Why?” the receptionist asked. The woman said her employer had just switched to Blue Cross for the company’s health insurance and the doctor she was seeing at the clinic was not a participating provider with Blue Cross. So she wanted a copy of her medical record for the doctor she was switching to, who was a participating provider with Blue Cross.

My client was the doctor who was not a participating provider with Blue Cross. She is also the owner of the clinic, which has 3 associate physicians. Finally I was led to her office. After exchanging greetings, I asked who was responsible for training and monitoring her front desk staff. She said she was since the practice really didn’t have a true office manager employed.

I asked, “Are any of the associate physicians participating providers with Blue Cross?” “Yes” she replied, “two of them are. Why do you ask?” I then began to relay the story of what had just happened at the front desk. The person who was dealing with the woman made no attempt to inform the patient that other physicians in the practice were participating with Blue Cross and would she like to see one of them.

As you can expect, my client started to seethe. The practice had lost a patient without any effort to retain her. I did tell the client that maybe the front desk might want to call this person and inform her that other physicians in the practice are “on” Blue Cross and find out if she would like to transfer her care to one of them before switching doctors.

The moral of all of this is that someone in your practice must constantly watch what is going on at the front desk, which we all know is the focal point of any medical practice. This is why I make an effort to always show up 30 minutes early for an appointment so I can sit there and watch the client’s front desk people in operation. It can be very eye opening at times.

So how are you monitoring your front desk? Are you training your front desk people adequately? Pay attention!


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