Tensions can run high when it comes time for the practice to evaluate the performance of the front-office staff in a medical practice. Many workers (and even some managers) will just want to get the review over with, but if you approach it correctly, you can use the performance evaluation as a jump-off toward discussing the employee’s goals and hopes for the future.
Front-office staff need consistent evaluation because the front office is one of the most important areas of the practice, as it is the patient’s first impression of the practice and the initial link between patient and physician. You need to know whether or not your staff is greeting patients appropriately and that they are handling patient information with privacy. Performance evaluations are one of the most reliable metrics to evaluate the overall effectiveness of your front-office staff.
So check out these tips on how to optimize cooperation, and minimize desperation, in front-office performance reviews.
Consider These Employees Front-Office
Remember that these performance evaluations suggestions are only for front-office medical practice employees, not physicians or other clinicians. Performance reviews for physicians/clinicians is an entirely different topic. For your evaluation purposes, front-office employees typically include those involved in:
- Patient access (telephone operators, schedulers, check-in/check-out staff);
- Front-end billing (coders; employees performing charge capture, charge entry and time-of-service collections; financial counselors; employees who conduct insurance verification and benefits eligibility; etc.) and
- Referral processing staff (such as prior authorization staff) and supervisors/leads for these employees.
Lessen Anxiety with Constant Performance Updates
An employee’s performance review should not be a “toxic event,” nor should the employee feel like they’re being summoned to a meeting in the principal’s office.
You can head off any potential issues by giving the employee routine and regular feedback on their performance all year. The performance review should not be a time for surprises or breaking news; it should be a summation of the employee’s accomplishments and areas in which they might improve since the last evaluation.
If you give regular performance feedback before the review, you won’t have to devote as much time to “grading” the employee’s achievements during the review. Then, you can devote a large portion of the formal performance evaluation meeting to a productive opportunity to talk about goals and objectives for the next period.
This discussion might address topics such as training or tools the employee needs to be more successful at their job, or how the supervisor can assist the employee in their professional goals. Enlightened organizations will utilize the performance evaluation process to ask the employee:
- What can we do as an organization? or
- What can I do as a supervisor to help you to be your best self?
Always keep this in mind: The culture of the organization should focus on continuous improvement, both individually and collectively.
Conduct Evaluations Each Year – Or More Often
Once a front-office employee is established, you should conduct formal reviews for her/him at least annually, although some organizations will conduct them twice a year. With newer employees in the front office, you might want to evaluate them after about a month. This only allows an employee to correct improper behavior and improve during their initial ramp-up time with the practice.
Finally, remember this – I firmly believe front desk employees and front desk activity can “make or break” a medical practice. Front desk employees are a vital component of any medical practice but it’s the position that seems to get the least attention by management.