Business efficiency for your practice is a direct result of how well your front desk sets and manages expectations for ALL (potential) New Patients Plain and simple.
When you understand your practice as an ecosystem and the role the front desk plays in the big picture, it’s possible to reduce work downstream, saving you time, money, and energy.
If you don’t approach your front desk with this mindset, there’s no way to prevent problems or reduce friction in the patient journey, leading you to constantly chase short-term solutions to bigger problems.
Let’s take a closer look at the key reasons why improved business efficiency must start with your front desk.
Setting and Managing Expectations PREVENTS Problems and Surprises
All too often, I see practice owners try to solve cancels or no-shows when they arise instead of figuring out how to prevent them in the first place.
They run around yelling at providers or front desk staff telling them to fix the cancel, when in fact, it’s their fault for not teaching the front desk how to set or manage the right expectations.
When someone cancels, you need to go upstream and figure out where the disconnect was.
Did the patient not understand the cancellation policy?
Was the patient told WHY arriving is important?
Does the patient know they need to arrive to complete their plan of care and reach their desired outcome?
Was the patient told that they’ll be seeing an expert that will help them?
All of these expectations can be set and managed by your front desk. These need to be addressed from the first interaction with your patients before they get too deep into the patient lifecycle.
If you wait too long and these expectations haven’t been laid out, there’s no way to reduce the chances of patients not showing up.
The same methodology can be applied to preventing billing problems.
If you’re getting complaints about your billing systems or processes, or if patients are “surprised” by certain bills, you have a problem.
And it all comes back to your front desk setting and managing expectations around billing.
Do the patients know that copays are due at the time of service?
Do your patients know when they can expect any additional bills?
If these haven’t been communicated to the patient, there’s no way to prevent surprises or complaints.
Setting and Managing Expectations Builds Trust
I want you to ask yourself, “How much trust do our new patients have in our practice prior to arrival?”
For many of you, this will be hard to answer because you don’t have the systems in place to actually build or gauge trust prior to arrival.
To build trust, your front desk needs to ask patients the RIGHT questions and manage expectations.
You need to clarify the type of care your patients will receive.
You need to clarify what your patients’ desired outcomes are.
You need to clarify that your patients will see a provider that will diagnose them properly and provide a map to their destination.
This is what builds trust and increases arrival rates.
The more trust a patient has prior to arrival, the greater likelihood your provider will have success with the patient, which ultimately leads to a completed plan of care.
When your front desk takes ownership of building this trust, the rest of the patient lifecycle can unfold much more effectively.
Setting and Managing Expectations Reduces Friction in the Patient Journey
You want your patients to have a seamless and enjoyable experience of receiving care at your practice.
Achieving this starts with managing that very first call with patients and setting expectations.
Your patients shouldn’t have any confusion about why they are coming to your practice, who they’re seeing, the type of care they’ll receive, and how much it costs. If they leave that first conversation with unanswered questions, you’re creating friction and open the possibility of a no-show.
This initial phase of the patient life cycle has a greater impact on your business than anything that happens after.
When you actually understand your patient lifecycle, everything you do on that first call should support and reduce friction in the stages that follow.
When you know who you serve, what their expectations are, and what you can offer them, a managed conversation that reduces friction is possible.
A frictionless experience also requires you to not make assumptions.
Don’t assume a patient’s preferred payment method without asking them first.
Don’t assume the patient wants paperwork sent to them before asking.
Don’t assume patients understand your policies if they haven’t actually been communicated to them.
Never assume, always communicate, clarify, and confirm.
Leverage your Front Desk to Start Creating More Business Efficiency
If you’re reading this and realize how inefficient your practice actually is, it’s ok, you can turn it around beginning today.
Evaluate your patient lifecycle and look at the points of friction. Look at your front desk and apply the strategies above to reduce this friction.
On your next patient call, set and manage the proper expectations that will get patients to arrive, pay, and stay with your practice.
If you have any questions about this topic or want to learn more about improving the performance of your front desk, reach out to have a discussion today.