5 Common Healthcare Front Desk Problems And Their Solutions Every Practice Manager Needs To Know

Dec 20, 2023 | Blog, Front Desk, Healthcare

Your front desk has a significant impact on the success of your medical practice. Having that said, there are many challenges that can cause both short-term and long-term problems with productivity, patient satisfaction, and staff efficiency.

In this blog, you’ll learn 5 common healthcare front desk problems that, when solved, can put you closer to overall clinical success.

5 Common Front Desk Problems And Their Solutions

Lacking staff coordination and cohesion

Your front desk staff may perform very well individually. However, if they cannot work together, their impact will be minimal.

Why it’s a problem

Without proper cooperation and synergy, your receptionists can struggle with communication problems, workflow bottlenecks, and frustration.

How to solve it

Implement healthcare team-building activities that establish rapport among your staff while allowing them to familiarize and stay updated on developments in healthcare trends and new protocols.

  • Utilize role-playing activities to simulate real-life scenarios for them to resolve so they can maintain a smooth patient intake process
  • Hold regular training sessions to refresh your staff on their skills and new workflow protocols (e.g., appointment scheduling, patient registration)
  • Conduct open forums where your staff can freely share their concerns, feedback, and appraisals, especially among their colleagues

Constant turnover and unavailability

On average, it takes up to 6 months to hire and train a new receptionist. However, the average tenure of a receptionist lasts up to only a year before they leave. Receptionist turnover occurs due to work-related stress, lack of growth opportunities, and seeing no thrill or excitement about their roles.

Why it’s a problem

Without full front desk coverage, your physicians will be forced to take on administrative burdens such as facilitating check-ins and scheduling appointments. This will cause stress and burnout among your healthcare staff and lead to a decline in your patient experience.

How to solve it

Ensure that you have proper front desk coverage in your clinics by dedicated receptionists. Determine a proper staffing model where your front desk is covered even in the face of vacation or sick leaves.

  • Actively monitor and adjust their roles and responsibilities based on their bandwidth, willingness, workload, and needs of the practice
  • Provide a clear path for their training, growth, and overall development at your practice
  • Use a transformative front desk solution like WelcomeWare that empowers your receptionists to do more and maximize their ROI

Long wait times

A 2022 report by Merritt Hawkins about average patient appointment wait times revealed that patients wait an average of 26 days before their appointment date. However, the 9th Annual Vitals Wait Time Report showed that patients wait up to 30 minutes for their appointment from when they arrive at the clinic.

Why it’s a problem

The same Vitals report also revealed that 84% of patients found wait time to be at least “somewhat important” to the patient experience. It also found that 30% walked out of an appointment because they waited too long, while 20% reported changing physicians altogether.

How to solve it

Reduce the wait times by either modifying your current workflow or influencing your patients’ behavior.

  • Coordinate your front desk staff with your physicians so they can have a clear idea of their scheduling preferences
  • Send regular reminders (either through email or text messages) to each patient about their upcoming appointments
  • If wait times can no longer be optimized further, enhance your waiting room facilities to make waiting more bearable for them

Unmanaged patient expectations

Every patient comes with a set of expectations of how your practice will accommodate them. Some of their expectations, however, may be unrealistic and challenging to meet.

Why it’s a problem

Failing to manage your patients’ expectations can result in disappointment and attrition. It can also place a heavier burden on your staff to try and meet their expectations.

How to solve it

Actively keep track and manage your patients’ expectations so they’re compatible with what your team can actually accomplish. Orient your staff so they can guide your patients in an amicable, persuasive manner.

  • Use a simple, conversational tone and language when speaking with patients to avoid confusion while maintaining positive patient engagement
  • Gather your patients’ information and have your physicians ask patients what they expect from the treatment to clarify misunderstandings
  • Be attentive and empathetic with their concerns, and provide clarifications of what they should expect.

Poor patient experience

A 2022 report by CallMiner on the patient experience revealed that two-thirds of patients have had a negative experience with their physicians, citing a lack of empathy for their needs. It also found that 42% of patients had communication problems with their healthcare providers.

Why it’s a problem

A poor patient experience can lead to confusion, frustration, and lack of confidence among your patients in your clinic. In the long run, it will lead to cancellations, no-shows, and attrition.

How to solve it

Orient and train your staff to exercise patient-centered care in their work so your patients will always feel accommodated and confident that your clinic will be dedicated to helping them resolve their problems.

  • Exercise friendly, unassuming body language when interacting with patients
  • Guide patients through their treatment plans, insurance eligibility, and financial options
  • Always listen and ask your patients about their concerns, feedback, and grievances so you can come up with ways to help them

Identifying The Front Desk Problems Is The First Step To Clinical Success

Setting your front desk up for success requires you to identify the common challenges that your staff deals with regularly. When you do this, you’ll be able to formulate strategies that help establish a productive and efficient front desk team.

When some front desk problems continue to persist, it’s time to look for a transformative approach by letting your front desk staff work remotely. Discover how WelcomeWare enables your receptionists to perform all of their front desk responsibilities remotely through virtual receptionist kiosks, empowering them to cover multiple locations and solve many of the problems that often plague the healthcare front desk.

Address the common challenges of the healthcare front desk

Set up your front desk for success in WelcomeWare

Related Blogs