Hiring for healthcare front desk positions is difficult. After all, these staff need to have broad and specific understandings of clinical policies, operations, and practices. They, also, need to be prepared to handle all expected (and unexpected) situations with confidence.
When interviewing candidates, managers will look for staff who already have strong communication, time management, and de-escalation skills. As they grow in their roles, staff should expect continual opportunities for growth in these areas.
Staff at clinic front desks are believed to hold an almost magical power. Patients believe that staff know the intricacies of their medical history, transportation plans, and insurance policies. Doctors promise patients that their front desk staff can make nearly anything happen with one phone call.
Neither is true. The front desk staff are there to ensure that clinical operations run efficiently and smoothly. Working at the front desk is fine balance between quantity and quality. How to offer the highest and quickest service to the most patients?
Advice for staff: Understand your role. Explain what you can provide. Redirect as necessary.
Staff at the front desk are always busy. Most other clinical staff will only see a portion of the day’s patients. The front desk sees all of the scheduled patients at least once. There are a lot of tasks that the front desk staff are responsible for. In the middle of all of that, these staff are also on the front-lines of the clinic and responding to needs in real time.
Advice for staff: Know what needs to get done. Learn how to do it quickly. Be interrupted. Reprioritize. Start again.
No one wants to come in to the doctor. Most people can still be polite about it. Some people will walk into the office already upset. Astute staff will recognize the nonverbal signs as the patient walks in. Other staff will recognize the verbal signs after the conversation starts.
Advice for staff: The patient’s interaction with the front desk staff will damage or improve the rest of their visit. Be friendly. Be polite. Be direct.
Managers feel a lot of pressure when hiring for front desk positions. After all, the patients will meet the front desk staff first. So it’s important that these staff are prepared to create the best possible patient experience.
If a patient’s request cannot be met, the employee needs to explain why and offer alternatives. Good time management skills ensures that staff are equipped to respond to daily duties and unexpected events. De-escalation skills allow staff to address situations that are already emotional.
In healthcare, patients will misunderstand. Doctors will over promise. Daily duties need to wait until after an urgent situation finishes. Front desk staff are on the front lines of these situations. Staff who work at a clinical front desk have continual opportunities to refine communication, time management, and de-escalation skills. Regardless of what role a staff member ultimately fills, mastery in these transferable skills is a huge bonus for the employee and the manager.