Ouch. It may seem harsh to come out with such a blatant statement: patients hate your front desk staff. You've seen reviews online, know that there may be some overly zealous people on social media. They may have caught you on a bad day, you may have not seen eye-to-eye during your appointment, their insurance could have taken a while to go through.
A Customer Service Problem
But more often than not, the biggest issue facing your practice is not what you would think. It is not about the quality of care that you deliver. It is about quality of your front desk staff operations.
"The nearly unanimous consensus is that in terms of impact on patient satisfaction, the waiting room trumps the exam room," Ron Harman King, co-author of the JMPM article and CEO of Vanguard Communications, a marketing and public relations firm for specialty medical practices, said in a prepared statement.
You also really can't blame your staff for not working hard enough, when most practices receive on average an influx of 30+ calls a day, according to the MGMA practice management 2016 study. We've found that front desk staff members spend the majority of their days on the phone, with at least 50% of phone calls going to voicemail on average.
And that's just phone volume.
According to King, "Our study uncovered a torrent of patient allegations of doctors running behind schedule, excessive waiting time to see a provider, billing problems, indifferent staff and doctors' bedside manners. Yet hardly anyone had a beef with the quality of healthcare received."
"Generally, it's far simpler to fix problems at the front desk or physician scheduling than to deal with allegations of inadequate medical skills. Of course, this requires a commitment from doctors to stick to schedules, allowing for only occasional urgencies that interrupt a physician's day," he added.
Facilitation of communication and organization of processes (starting at the front desk) will not only improve patient satisfaction, but also will save physician time and administrative overhead.
Fixing the Root of the Problem
Tools such as Klara work with a practice's existing workflow, enhancing front desk coordination. The cloud-based inbox gives front desk and medical staff members the ability to assign conversations by "tagging" one another. Klara also integrates modern features such as "read receipts" so that staff can better organize care.
With 70% of millennials interested in choosing a healthcare provider with a mobile app offering over one without, Klara is the inevitable future of medical office management.
According to the study, among the unhappiest patients, 53 percent cite communications frustrations, using descriptions such as "to get an appointment…" and "I was told that…"
Improve Communications = Improve Experience
Improving communications will improve the greater healthcare experience for all those involved in the process: from patients to staff to large insurance companies. Klara is building the network to make that a reality.