There is no doubt that a successful business requires many different components but starting at the front office captures so much of what is important in optimizing your business systems. Your patients, or customers depending on your industry, have their first and last interactions with your business through your front office systems and personnel. This means that these experiences are crucially important as the first impression and lasting impression of how their overall experience was with your company. You as a provider could do everything right in the middle of the visit but if there is anything off about the first or last part of the visit, your fantastic service may not be enough to encourage that patient to return or even keep their initial appointment.
Do you have a script for how you want the phone answered, for how you want the most commonly asked questions answered, for how your leads and controls the call to gain the best likelihood of making your business money and gaining an appointment in your schedule? If not, that is a great place to start. You may think that answering the phone is a simple task, and it can be if each team member knows what to say and HOW to say it. Have you ever called a company and gotten on the receiving end of someone having a bad day or someone with a generally negative attitude? This impacts how you feel about doing business with that company and you haven’t even stepped foot in the building or met the service provider you would have seen. The person you choose to answer the phone and their skills at managing critical conversations can have large impacts on your patient acquisition and retention.
Does your front office team have a consistent and comprehensive way to prepare for a successful day in terms of collecting the needed information from your patient ahead of time and to be able to collect what is owed at the end? This preparation happens ahead of the day of service to allow for the most smooth visit for your patient and the most optimal outcome for your business. No one enjoys completing forms while they are nervous or getting financial surprises so make sure your team has the skills to be transparent and upfront with patients prior to the scheduled appointment.
Other common areas that can have a large impact on the bottom line of the business are how often statements are sent for existing balances, how collection conversations are handled at the very beginning of the patient/provider relationship, and proactively determining what is to be collected from each patient the day of service. When these systems are set up intentionally for the best patient experience and the best outcome for the business, I have seen offices increase new patients, increase retention of existing patients, hit production goals, and collect thousands of dollars more each day. In a well honed system, the front office systems support the amazing clinical work that is being done in the back office. It’s imperative that both are in order for the most success. So make sure that your front office team has support in optimizing these front office systems BEFORE you make large investments in marketing and new patient growth. Otherwise, you’ll be gaining new patients in the front door while existing patients are leaving out the back door and not giving any of your patients the best experience possible, which is a shame for all involved!