First impressions set the tone for nearly every interaction patients will have from the moment they set foot in your office to the time they leave. We’re all quick to “size up” the person standing before us, and when the office scheduler or medical receptionist greets patients with warmth and respect, it goes a long way towards creating a positive patient experience.
Waiting rooms leave bigger impressions on patients than exam rooms.
A study published by the Journal of Medical Practice Management shows that 96 percent of patient complaints are related to customer service, while just 4 percent complain about the quality of medical care received. With the right medical front office staff expertly trained in critical communication skills, scoring excellent online reviews for your medical practice is an attainable goal worth pursuing.
What frustrates patients?
Communication problems are among the chief complaints made by patients. It starts before patients come in for their appointments. Online reviews show that scheduling appointments is difficult because the hold times are long or the physicians are backed up for weeks.
Patients also express frustration over the amount of information required while making appointments. Not only do you need to know the reason for the appointment and who the patient is, but you may also need to verify insurance coverage. While these are all realities of modern healthcare, the appointment scheduler plays a huge role in setting the stage for a positive patient experience.
Once the patient arrives for the appointment, the second “first impression” is critical. It’s amazing how many times patients are greeted during check in by someone holding a cell phone or chatting with a colleague. Patients deserve undivided attention, and they’re vocal online when they don’t receive it.
How can you tell during the interviewing process whom will provide great patient service?
Recruiters and human resource staff rely on resumes, reference checks and their own intuition to identify good cultural fit. Some even use employee assessments to measure personality and behavioral traits. Hiring isn’t a perfect science, and despite best intentions, sometimes the wrong person gets hired.
To increase the odds of hiring front office staff who will increase patient satisfaction, word-of-mouth referrals and better online reviews, look for the following five qualities:
- Compassion. Ask interview questions that help you assess empathy. Patients often arrive at your office in some level of distress. Being greeted by someone who can sense that and react with empathy helps to put patients ease, which is something we all want when we’re nervous.
- Stability. Job hoppers aren’t desirable in any profession, but this is especially true of the first point of contact in your practice. Think about how special you feel when your barista remembers your name and favorite coffee order. Patients appreciate the same level of care.
- Professional presentation. Regardless of the level of position being interviewed for, candidates give you a glimpse of their professionalism just by how they dress and their mannerisms. Professionalism is a good predictor of the level of respect your patients will receive.
- Front office medical experience. This isn’t your typical receptionist who answers the phone or manages your office. Front office staff directly influence the growth of your practice, as patient satisfaction becomes an increasingly important factor to payers and patients alike.
- Warm smile and eye contact. Obvious, right? Well, how many times have you been greeted with, “how may I help you?” while the person stares at the computer screen? If a candidate doesn’t look you in the eye with a warm and enthusiastic smile, that could be a sign of nerves. But it’s also an important red flag.
Need help recruiting medical office staff?
Let’s talk. You can reach me at 404.822.9392 or email me at email@example.com. For 30 years, I’ve been dedicated to helping medical practices, law firms, creative agencies and other companies in Atlanta thrive by staffing them with the very best talent. I fill a variety of positions including executive assistants, receptionists, medical front office billing staff, as well as legal staff just to name a few. I look forward to helping you reach your goals.
Looking for a new opportunity?
Email your resume to firstname.lastname@example.org.