Facilitating A Holistic Treatment: 6 Vital Skills Every Behavioral Health Receptionist Should Have

Jul 20, 2023 | Blog

In mental health clinics, the responsibility of achieving positive patient outcomes typically falls upon the providers. However, leaving that duty solely in their hands may lead to limited success. For patient treatments to be more successful, you need to leverage your behavioral health receptionists.

Of course, having receptionists alone is not enough to guarantee better patient outcomes. Your mental health front desk staff should have the necessary skills that enable them to help drive your clinic to success.

Here’s what you need to know.

Why Are Behavioral Health Receptionists Important?

While therapists are responsible for treating your patients, your receptionists ensure that they finish their treatment by providing a positive patient experience.

The patient experience is a vital component of success in mental health clinics. It significantly impacts patient retention, satisfaction, and overall outcomes.

In fact, a 2016 study on patient attrition in psychotherapy practices, after collating qualitative data from 3,728 respondents, confirmed “the general importance of explicit treatment engagement strategies in outpatient clinic settings.”

Such strategies include:

  • Engaging patients outside of appointments by calling or emailing them
  • Reaching out to patients who stopped attending sessions
  • Guiding patients through their treatment plans

And who drives these strategies? Behavioral health receptionists.

With sufficient skills and experience, they can engage with your patients and influence them to complete their treatment at your clinic.

6 Skills That Your Behavioral Health Receptionists Should Have

Communication Skills

The ability to communicate with guests is a fundamental skill for receptionists in any industry, but its importance is greatly magnified in mental health practices.

Consider these scenarios:

  • Patients may have concerns about the treatment and its effectiveness
  • Patients want to have complete information about certain processes
  • Patients may still have some doubts about the treatment, the therapist, or the clinic in general

Behavioral health receptionists can help by:

  • Addressing patients’ concerns about the treatment plan
  • Informing the patients about specific processes in a clear, simple way
  • Clearing patients’ doubts and reassuring them that they’re in good hands

For best results, receptionists must actively exercise keen listening and attention to detail while interacting with patients.

Managing Patient Expectations

Some patients may overestimate how quickly they’ll recover during their treatment. At the same time, other patients will feel that undergoing therapy is insufficient to treat their condition. In both cases, patients will experience disappointment and may drop out of treatment altogether.

Besides treatment, patients may have expectations about how your clinic accommodates them. If they think they’re receiving less attention than they should, it can lead to cancellations, no-shows, and complete attrition.

Behavioral health receptionists can help manage their expectations by guiding them throughout their engagement with your clinic. This will require extensive experience and familiarity with care coordination, as well as clear coordination with the providers.

Other ways receptionists can manage expectations include:

  • Verifying insurance – Receptionists must be knowledgeable about insurance providers or at least exercise initiatives in contacting them to ensure that patients receive coverage and benefits during treatment
  • Financing options – Receptionists should have some experience in planning out financing plans for patients
  • Managing wait time – Receptionists must know how to strategically schedule appointments so patients can visit their therapists shortly after entering the clinic

Empathy And Understanding

Receptionists are responsible for reassuring patients who may be distressed or confused before entering their appointment. To do this, they need to know how to facilitate a calming, understanding atmosphere.

Here are a few examples:

  • Keeping comfortable eye contact
  • Maintaining an optimistic attitude while interacting with patients
  • Encouraging patients to ask questions if they have any
  • Reassuring them that the clinic will help them through their issues

Problem-Solving Abilities

There are some situations where behavioral health receptionists must be quick on their feet to resolve issues, including:

  • Scheduling conflicts or providers being absent
  • Patients feeling that wait times are too long
  • Insurance providers denying coverage or benefits

There should be workflow protocols and contingencies in place to address these issues. However, complex clinical situations and emergencies may occur that may be outside the scope of your plan.

Besides familiarizing themselves with the clinic’s protocols, receptionists must be able to stay calm and composed and determine the best possible course of action to resolve an ongoing issue. Of course, it’s unnecessary for them to be able to solve every issue — knowing and contacting the relevant staff is enough.

Systematic And Flexible

Efficient patient flow is essential for successful mental health clinics. Patients should be able to focus on their recovery without being burdened by administrative processes. Otherwise, they will be discouraged from completing treatment and visiting your clinic altogether.

Behavioral health receptionists must be well-trained and have a calm composure to ensure that intake and other processes proceed smoothly. It’s also ideal for them to be able to multitask and adapt dynamically, especially when their workload becomes heavy.

Maintaining Patient Data Confidentiality

While receptionists should establish an environment of trust among patients, they must always exercise caution in protecting their sensitive information. For instance, receptionists should always make sure to comply with the minimum necessary rule whenever they talk to other staff or even friends and family. Failing this, your clinic will face serious repercussions due to violating HIPAA regulations.

Maximizing Your Mental Health Front Desk

In order for your mental health clinic receptionists to help drive positive patient outcomes and satisfaction, you need to support and provide them with proper front desk training and orientation. Such training must focus on developing the 6 skills mentioned earlier and should occur regularly to ensure that your staff is always equipped to manage the patient experience.

To truly maximize your behavioral health receptionists, you need to transition them to a working setup that enables them to be more productive and effective. Use WelcomeWare to turn your staff into live-streaming virtual receptionists who ensure that there is always someone at the front desk to greet your patients with a smile.

Enable your behavioral health receptionists to service patients better

Empower your mental health front desk staff with WelcomeWare

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