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Want to make the best first impression when patients walk into your urgent care clinic? Use our list of essential characteristics of a good friend desk officer to choose the right person to greet them at your front desk.
A friendly and well-trained front desk officer sets the tone for every visit. With new tools like online registration and real-time insurance verification to manage, your front desk staff provides essential services that make your clinic more efficient.
The front office staff is often the first, and sometimes the last, person your patients talk to. This sets the tone for their visit. A well-trained front desk employee is the start of a five-star patient experience. And it can also have a positive impact on the rest of your staff.
According to Eileen Ales, MA, RN, of Ales Consulting in Tacoma, WA, the front office staff is “the first and last impression of the place. The front desk employees are the first ones to see your patients, the last ones to see your patients, and they’re the ones who the patients are going to talk to when they have problems. The front desk really carries a lot of weight.”
Eileen is right. The front desk does carry a lot of weight. Here are five characteristics of a good front desk officer:
At the front desk, it is important to have a person who is genuinely good-natured—not someone with a fake smile. Patients can spot that from a mile away. Rather, you want someone who is authentic and greets patients who come to your clinic with a pleasant attitude. Front office staff cannot allow personal troubles to plague them. They have to be able to keep their private life private and not let any personal drama affect the way they treat patients.
The front desk takes a certain amount of care. Contrary to what some people may think, this is not the place where you hire “cheap” labor. A lack of attention to detail can cause a wealth of problems when it comes to submitting claims (wrong insurance information) or taking care of injured employees (workers’ compensation protocols).
The optimal front desk person must also be an excellent multitasker. There will be days where phones are ringing, multiple patients need attention, and a nurse from the back needs an important piece of information. Prioritizing and managing the demands of all these people is often frustrating and overwhelming. However, they all need to be taken care of in an efficient manner. Someone who can juggle a handful of tasks, while remaining calm (and happy), is the ideal person for your clinic.
Being on the front line of the front office means being the first and last face the patient sees—and the face patients see the entire time they are in the waiting room. Always under watchful eyes, front desk staff see more of the clinic and staff than you realize and hear more than you think. They must be mindful of their demeanor, tone of voice, and the conversations they have with other staff members. It is not just about maintaining HIPAA compliance, it is about presenting your clinic positively and conveying the right message to your patients.
In many ways, the front desk officer is the silent conductor of the train. While many people probably think the physician is running the show, the person in this role can contribute to the success or failure of your clinic. By coordinating and contributing to patient care, the front office staff can alert staff to significantly ill and injured patients that require immediate attention. They can promote good health practices by encouraging the use of masks and hand sanitizer. They can improve marketing efforts by alerting patients to new services being offered at the clinic. They can prevent client dissatisfaction by confirming protocols, orders, and good information as it is provided. Even though much of this goes back to being detail-oriented, it’s more than just someone doing the job. It is about looking for the ways a person’s job intersects with the rest of the clinical team and making the patient’s experience better.