Maximize Your Physical Therapy Practice’s Success in 2023: 12 Proven Front Desk Tips
2022 brought significant challenges to the physical therapy industry, including acquisitions, natural disasters, closures, and declining reimbursements, as well as the looming threat of a recession. Despite these obstacles, many physical therapy practices emerged in a strong position to capitalize on opportunities in 2023.
As we look ahead to the new year, it’s important for practice owners to consider how they can make the most of the upcoming 12 months. At WelcomeWare, we have had the privilege of working with industry leaders and attending multiple physical therapy events, and we have compiled a list of 12 front desk tips to guide practice owners in maximizing their success in 2023, whether they own a single clinic or manage multiple locations across the country.
1. Prioritize Patient Satisfaction Through An Empathetic Front Desk Experience
When speaking to physical therapy practice owners, managers, and industry leaders, they all mention the same thing: place your patient first. If your practice does not place the patient first, your practice will not survive. Use 2023 to reinvest in your patients by ensuring your practice and your staff are fully committed to improving your patients’ lives. The first place a practice can begin is by ensuring an empathetic and efficient front desk experience for your patients. Adopting/changing your practice’s front desk policies and/or implementing a solution like WelcomeWare can go a long way in making your patients feel welcomed and accommodated.
2. Streamline Front Desk Operations with Live Receptionist Platforms: Eliminating Hiring, Training, and Retention Challenges
As minimum wages rise and work-from-home opportunities become more prevalent, physical therapy practices around the country are struggling to ensure full coverage at their front desk. Hiring, training and retaining quality front desk staff is difficult and time-consuming, especially when managing front desk staff across multiple clinics. Practice owners and managers have all communicated their frustrations associated with maintaining their front desk operations. Whether it’s time spent trying to hire, train and retain staff, traveling to cover empty seats, or the costs associated with traveling, practice owners and managers are fed up with their empty front desks.
In 2023, practices should look to utilize software that enables them to leverage their current front desk staff across their multiple locations – decreasing the stress associated with the hiring process while further utilizing their current skilled staff.
3. Enhancing Check-In and Boosting Collections with On-File Credit Card Information
In 2022, we saw a significant need for practices to improve their practice management policies. In many cases, this meant changing current clinic processes. For example, credit cards held on file sped up the check-in process and ensured patients more time with their providers. Many practices are unaware that patients prefer the seamlessness offered by keeping their cards on file.
Holding cards on file means your practice can collect payment at the time of service, which greatly increases a practice’s collection rates and decreases the likelihood of a missed payment, especially when your administrative staff is absent.
4. Optimize Treatment Time with Provider through Patient Portal Utilization
Utilizing your EMR system’s patient portal can further enhance your patients’ experience. Ensuring paperwork is completed ahead of time increases your patient’s time with their provider and the likelihood of returning patients’. Further, it decreases the amount of administrative work (for staff and patients) required at time of check-in.
In 2023, adopt the practice of sending intake paperwork prior to your patient’s appointment.
5. Administrative and clinical staff burnout is at an all-time high. Incorporate new ways to improve your practice’s culture
Front desk challenges pose stress on all members of your practice. Whether it’s the clinical or administrative team, an empty front desk creates additional work for everyone. In 2022, many practice managers communicated that their staff experienced burnout and frustration when associated with a clinic that was short-staffed. When building an inclusive team environment in 2023, make sure to add an element of fun to the mix. Improving your company’s culture is a great way to reduce staff burnout, improve internal communications and ultimately create a better environment for your patients.
6. Motivate Front Desk Staff: Offering Incentives such as Defined Career Paths and Flexible Work Options
As business dynamics evolve and the front desk position changes, physical therapy practices need to find new and inclusive ways to incentivize their front desk staff. Whether managing employee burnout, improving company culture, or accommodating for your employees’ life changes, your employees need to feel valued. One way to show your appreciation is to include your employees in the bigger picture of your practice’s operations. Including them will lead to a greater and more efficient contribution.
Although not all practices can offer their front desk staff a career path, it is important to show your team that you value them as employees by creating an inclusive work environment. Offering work-from-home opportunities can be a practice’s first step when accommodating their front desk staffs’ needs. Work-from-home opportunities can offer benefits such as increased front desk staff flexibility and improved patient engagement, and can serve as an incentive for high-performing employees. It can eliminate the risk of your front desk staff leaving and opens up your practice to a greater candidate pool across the country.
7. Optimize Clinic Operations through Improved Intra-staff Communications
This year, make sure your staff are communicating. Many practice owners and employees shared that a lack of communication between clinical and administrative staff led to a breakdown in the patient’s experience, contributing to increased waiting times, incorrect intake information, and overall patient confusion.
Maintaining frequent and open communication channels is crucial when managing staff across multiple clinics. Adopting an internal communication platform like Microsoft Teams or Slack can create an open channel of communication between staff members, ensuring your physical therapy practice’s operations run smoothly and your patient’s experience is never damaged.
8. Accelerate Your Physical Therapy Practice Expansion in 2023 with Virtual Front Desk Solutions
2022 was filled with mergers and acquisitions (M&A) amongst larger practices. We will continue to see larger practices grow as we enter 2023. As we move further away from the pandemic, physical therapy practices (big and small) are beginning to open more de novo clinics. There is a common misconception amongst practice owners that they need an in-person coordinator to open a new clinic. Finding a qualified front desk coordinator can often be the most difficult step in opening a new clinic. By removing the stress associated with hiring additional front desk staff, a virtual front desk solution could be the tool you need to see additional growth. We advise physical therapy practices to consider leveraging a virtual front desk solution as it can be a fast, cost effective way for your physical therapy practice to open new clinics this year.
9. Balance Expenses and Efficiency: Leveraging Technology for Automation in Business Operations
In 2022, many practice owners expressed the need to reduce redundancy across their clinics, communicating the need to leverage current technologies to reduce costs and optimize their front desk operations. As inflation and the hiring costs rise, make sure to leverage current and new technologies to offset expenses. Utilizing technology to improve the check-in process can be a great place to begin. Virtual front desk platforms like WelcomeWare will allow your practice to leverage your current front desk staff across multiple locations.
10. Optimize Business Efficiency through Centralization of Functions
WelcomeWare has seen tremendous success amongst physical therapy practices that chose to centralize their business functions. Smaller practices have found success in hiring a specialist to handle specific aspects of the patient check-in, such as insurance verifications. Whereas larger practices in a greater fashion have created a centralized pool of individuals to handle specific front desk functions such as scheduling and billing.
Whether small or large, successful physical therapy practices recommend that your front desk staff focus on checking-in patients and answering the phone, while specialists handle the more complicated, time-consuming tasks such as insurance verifications and reimbursements.
11. Combat Declining Medicare Reimbursements: Implement New Practice Policies
To add to the challenges of reimbursements, the physical therapy industry saw a shift in rules applying to Medicare patients. New Medicare rules meant reimbursements related to Medicare patients would decrease, further highlighting the need for updated practice policies. By centralizing your practice’s business functions and appropriately adopting new practice policies, practices can ensure an overall increase in collections and reimbursements, safeguarding against reduced rates.
12. Embrace the Future of Front Desk Operations: The Advantages of Virtual Solutions
The future of front desk operations lies in virtual solutions. With increasing popularity in the physical therapy industry, they are quickly becoming a go-to option for their ease of use, cost-effectiveness, and automation of the check-in process. Adoption of live virtual presence not only improves front desk operations but also increases business metrics across multiple clinics.
Finding quality front desk staff will continue to be a challenge this year. However, implementing these front desk receptionist tips for your physical therapy practice can improve your patient experience, streamline your operations, and ultimately increase your revenue. Additionally, leveraging live front desk receptionist platforms can eliminate the challenges associated with hiring, training, and retaining front desk staff.
If you’re interested to learn how a live virtual receptionist platform can help optimize your front desk, reduce your headcount and improve your patient experience, check out WelcomeWare. WelcomeWare offers an all-in-one software and hardware solution that allows practices to enable remote reception with their current front desk team.
Streamline your front desk operations
Use WelcomeWare for a more efficient and effective front desk
In mental health clinics, the responsibility of achieving positive patient outcomes typically falls upon the providers. However, leaving that duty solely in...
In mental health clinics, the patient experience is a vital component of successful patient outcomes, and the front desk plays a significant role in...
For many mental health clinic owners, the responsibility of treating patients falls solely on the therapist — but in truth, patient treatment starts at the...