Ever stop and wonder how important your front desk staff are to your facility? They are the gatekeepers and the traffic cops who greet not only patients but also the unannounced surveyors and the reps without appointments. They answer phone calls, collect co-pays and check your patients in with a smile. They are the face of your facility. Here's how you can help them continue to do a great job.
- Cross-train. If the staff member responsible for the phones is with a patient, have another person handle the phones. Make sure the backup person has a specific cue so no phone calls get missed and patients aren't interrupted.
- Empower them to police vendors. When a vendor rep arrives at the front desk, your staff member should first verify that the sales rep is on the schedule and that you're available to meet with him. The rep should sign in and out, and complete required facility paperwork. Remind your staff not to be complacent with the "regulars," as the rules apply to all.
- When placing name-bands on patients' wrists have your front desk staff ask patients to review the information before bands are placed on their wrists. No sense using it for your "2 identifiers" checkpoint if the information isn't correct.
- Do they know what to do if a surveyor comes in? Who is your designee in your absence? ? A little role-playing will help with the process. I once had an unannounced surveyor arrive before me, and the front desk person didn't think to get the clinical director as my designee until they called me. My director smoothed it out nicely, but it was an additional unnecessary stress.
- In case of an emergency What about disgruntled people, or worse? Train the front office on how to get help when needed. Place building security numbers on all the phones, as well as a process for alerting others to trouble.
- Keep forms in order. The front desk handles a lot of forms. Just a few: the operative consent, advance directive and privacy notice attestation, rights and responsibilities/grievance process attestation, care-giver check, financial agreement, ownership disclosure attestation and copies of insurance cards. You may want to combine your forms into 1 or 2 documents, as long as each part is signed off or initialed.
- Re-visit the walls. Are all your licenses and notices still hanging, reviewed, and up to date? ? Make sure they look presentable. They, like your front desk staff, help make the first impression you want. Speaking of impressions, you should have a professional dress code policy for the front office, as well as a no-gum, no-food, hide-the-drink rule. Establish the rules early to save uncomfortable conversations later.
Hopefully, you have a rock star at your facility in the post. Have them help you review your front desk processes, and thank them for doing a great job.