The Intake

Insights for those starting, managing, and growing independent healthcare practices

How to attract and retain patients by focusing on front-office staff

There are a number of ways you can support and encourage staff so they help you achieve your goals of attracting and retaining patients.

medical front office staff smiling and collaborating

Your front office staff have a great deal of influence on patients’ overall experience. When they’re prompt and professional, patients are likely to have a positive experience. When they’re rushed and curt, patients — particularly new patients — are more likely to be dissatisfied with your healthcare practice as a whole.

You already hire qualified candidates, provide excellent job training, and set clear expectations. But how can you support your front office staff in taking your practice to the next level? There are a number of ways you can encourage your staff so they help you attract and retain patients.

Improve your workplace culture 

Staffing shortages are a growing healthcare industry problem, and many medical professionals are worried that the worst is yet to come. If your front-office staff struggle to keep up with their workloads, haven’t had vacations or even a personal day in months or years, and are under-compensated, they will not have the bandwidth required to truly elevate the patient experience at your practice — and you might struggle to retain them over time.

Review the compensation and benefits you offer your staff and make improvements. If you don’t have the budget for higher salaries, consider bonuses. Review whether staff are actually taking their vacation and personal days and, if not, investigate how you can enable them to do so. Are there different systems and workflows you could implement to make it more possible for them to take time off? 

Finally, seek ways to improve your workplace culture. Do you encourage leaving work at work, or do you email or call after hours? Do you model taking time away to rest and recharge? Do you have programs to recognize accomplishments? Improving the workplace culture at your independent practice can help staff avoid burnout and thrive in their positions, which directly contributes to their ability to improve the patient experience.

Make staff environments more inviting

Most healthcare providers would spare no expense to create a waiting room that delights patients, but may not have put as much thought or budget into the physical environment they create for their front office staff. Some areas may have uncomfortable workstations or inefficient technological equipment. 

Others — such as behind the front desk and in the break room — might be used for storage. This can lead to irritation or make them feel unappreciated.

Review the areas in your office where your staff spend their workdays. Are they tidy, ergonomic, and well-equipped, or overstuffed with broken furniture and ancient equipment? Do your staff have everything they need to not only do their jobs but have a pleasant, healthy, and easy-to-use work environment? Check in with your staff about what they want and need, and what you can do to make improvements. 

Small changes — like fixing or replacing worn-out furniture and equipment, stocking the break room with free healthy snacks, and providing basic hygiene items like mouthwash and menstrual products — can make a difference in employee satisfaction.

Automate front-office tasks

In many healthcare practices, front office staff spend most of their days booking and confirming appointments. Not only is this task tedious, it’s also frustrating for in-person patients who must wait to be greeted and served. 

If your office is bogged down by an endless stream of phone calls, you might want to consider practice management software that enables online booking and automated booking confirmations.

Online booking allows patients to book appointments whenever and wherever they want without requiring them to pick up the phone. By reducing call volume, you empower your staff to complete other more important tasks.

As an added bonus, healthcare practices that enable online booking can reduce no-shows and easily fill open appointment slots up to the last minute.

Empower your office staff with special projects

Even if you know your front office staff well, some administrators might possess hidden talents or skills. Talk to each member of your staff about their interests. For example, office staff could be helpful in marketing your practice. A staff member who is an avid photographer could take photos and be responsible for updating the practice’s website and the various sites where reviews are posted. 

Perhaps you have a staff member with a knack for social media. They could provide ongoing reports of what’s trending online. They might be able to help you carve out a social media strategy or even post on your behalf.

Delegating these types of tasks based on your staff’s interests gives them a chance to broaden their experience and results in significantly greater job satisfaction.

Staff expertise can improve patient acquisition and retention

There are a number of ways you can support and encourage staff so they help you achieve your goals of attracting and retaining patients.

Involving your office staff in tasks that aren’t mundane will give them a feeling of greater satisfaction which will translate into better patient relationships and satisfaction.

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Written by

Karmin Gentili

Karmin Gentili has several years of freelance writing and editor experience. After over 25 years in corporate management roles, she has further elevated her skills by receiving multiple certifications, including copywriting and SEO specializations. Her love of writing motivates her to use those skills to develop content so others can work toward achieving their goals.

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