Are You Using Your Receptionists Properly? Why Your Outpatient Clinic Is Facing Pain Points
Outpatient clinics face numerous challenges throughout the course of their operations. Many of the solutions developed to push back against these challenges involve healthcare quality improvement, provider selection, and equipment upgrades — but have you considered creating a strong front desk strategy using your receptionists?
Your receptionists are the key to solving your pain points. Here’s how:
How Can Receptionists Help Outpatient Clinics Solve Their Pain Points?
The average outpatient facility struggles with three significant pain points:
- Inconsistent patient experience
- Impaired provider performance
- Appointment no-shows
These issues greatly affect your clinic on an operational level. Their root cause, however, is not your equipment, providers, or bad luck with patients. Your clinic is facing these pain points because you’re underutilizing your receptionists.
Their role at the front desk has a significant impact on how your clinic operates. If you’re unable to use them properly, it can lead to problems that can sabotage the operations of your clinic.
Thus, eliminating your clinic’s pain points requires a front desk strategy that maximizes your receptionists. To do that, you need to have a clear understanding of the potential that your receptionists have in leading your clinic to success.
Here’s how your receptionists can help you resolve these issues:
Inconsistent patient experience
Providertech revealed that the average patient attrition rate of a healthcare practice in the U.S. is 17%. One of the most significant factors of attrition is the patient experience. Regardless of the quality of the services, patients will stop visiting a practice if they experience:
- Poor communication
- Unwelcoming staff
- Long wait times
- Lack of accommodation for concerns
Curating the patient experience is the hallmark of receptionists. Their ability to welcome patients with a friendly smile and an assuring voice is crucial to establishing an environment of trust and safety for your patients, which is essential to creating a positive patient experience.
Impaired performance by providers
Assigning administrative work to providers is a typical practice by clinics that lack receptionists due to insufficient funds, inability to find qualified staff, or having no need for receptionists. However, a 2014 study on healthcare provider performance showed that 40% of providers failed to collect a total of $31,713 from patients.
Payment collection, insurance verification, and other administrative tasks are often outside the scope of expertise of a healthcare provider. Assigning these functions to your provider can split their focus and lead to frustration, mediocre healthcare quality, and lower patient satisfaction.
Having receptionists ensures operational efficiency in the clinic. They perform vital administrative work so that your providers can give undivided attention to providing services to your clients.
In addition, receptionists have dedicated training and knowledge in:
- Facilitating the check-in process
- Processing and collecting payments
- Verifying insurance
- Scheduling and rescheduling appointments
- Ensuring completion of patient intake and outcome forms
No-shows can significantly impede the profitability of a clinic. Zippia reported that the healthcare industry loses $150 million annually due to appointment no-shows. Athenahealth also revealed that even one no-show could decrease retention rate by 70%.
Receptionists can help reduce no-shows by:
- Confirming appointment details with the patients
- Reminding patients about your clinic’s no-show policies
- Sending texts or emails to remind patients about their scheduled appointments
What Are Virtual Outpatient Receptionists?
While receptionists are crucial to solving the pain points of outpatient clinics, accessing and retaining them poses its own challenge. Some issues include:
- Absenteeism – Sick leaves, paid time off, and sudden emergencies can leave your front desk empty
- Consistency of performance – Traveling every day to and from the clinic will gradually deteriorate the energy of a receptionist
- Staff retention – The average tenure of a receptionist lasts 6-12 months, after which there is a 3-6 month period to find and train a replacement
- Geographical limitations – When conducting a talent search for new front desk staff, clinics are often limited to candidates who are nearby
These problems occur due to the in-person nature of the front desk role. Fortunately, remote options are now possible thanks to developments in business technology, leading to the prospect of virtual outpatient receptionists.
A virtual outpatient receptionist is a front desk employee who performs the same functions as an in-person receptionist while working remotely.
The main advantage of virtual outpatient receptionists is that working in a remote setup amplifies their impact on the front desk operations of your clinic.
Some key benefits of virtual outpatient receptionists include:
- Enabling an always-available front desk. When a receptionist is unavailable, another receptionist can easily fill in to ensure that patients are always accommodated
- Covering multiple clinics from a single location. Remote receptionists can live-stream themselves on a kiosk prompted by a patient without needing to travel
- More consistent performance. Since remote work eliminates the need to travel, receptionists will be more energetic and focused on performing their tasks efficiently
- Expanding your candidate pool. You can access the most suitable candidates for your next receptionist from anywhere in the world
How To Include Virtual Outpatient Receptionists Your Strategy
Having virtual receptionists is very advantageous in eliminating the pain points of your clinic. However, accessing them involves a different set of requirements from in-person receptionists that, when met, allows you to create a strong front desk strategy.
In order for you to leverage remote receptionists for your outpatient clinics, you need to have 3 key elements:
Using a virtual receptionist platform
A virtual receptionist platform is a dedicated solution designed to enable a remote front desk. The key features of a platform include:
- Multiple location coverage
- Reporting dashboard
- Notifications of visitor arrivals
The ideal platform should be easy to integrate into your existing workflow. WelcomeWare, for example, is a web-based platform, which means you can use it on any device that supports an internet browser.
Installing healthcare kiosks in your clinics
Your receptionists will live-stream themselves on interactive healthcare kiosks, which serve as the point of contact between your patients and your front desk staff.
For best results, use kiosks that feature:
- Document scanning
- Intake forms
- ID capture
- Temperature checking
Besides these features, WelcomeWare’s kiosks come in a variety of forms, such as desktop and free-standing kiosks, to fit your needs
Staffing your remote front desk
You can either train your current front desk staff to be virtual outpatient receptionists or hire specialized remote receptionists to staff your virtual front desk.
WelcomeWare Can Solve Your Pain Points
Solving the pain points of outpatient clinics with virtual receptionists requires the proper platform to enable a remote front desk. The ideal solution should cover all the bases: a variety of hardware options, flexible and robust software, and access to a pool of proven front desk staff. If you’re in the market for a virtual receptionist platform to solve your pain points, consider using WelcomeWare.
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