There’s a fun phrase about dental practices: “When the front office hums, the back-office dances.” How does the front office hum? Let me paint you the picture—the front office staff is answering phones, greeting patients who walk in, and working their daily schedule.
While the front office is “humming,” the back-office or check-out staff is facilitating payments for fees, posting payments, and handling the insurance coverage questions. Although they are two separate parts of the business, they both have a substantial impact on each other. To create the best patient experience, consider streamlining business operations—from the front to the back-office.
Streamlining the Front Office
When your front office is stretched too thin, it can be hard for your staff to fully engage with patients.
Make a first impression. Front office employees kick off patient interaction and their initial greeting sets the tone for their visit.
Assign tasks. Create a strategy for delegating administrative tasks to your team members based on their strengths and interests. Assigning tasks will boost productivity, keep employees happy, and will save your practice time and money.
Evaluate the work environment. It’s important to minimize distractions to ensure each staff member can get their work done. For example, there may be a way to create a separate workspace for administrators away from the front desk. Consider other ways to help the staff with the tools they need to get their jobs done, like fast Wi-Fi or dual monitors.
Implement online scheduling. When patients can schedule, modify, and cancel appointments online, your practice’s call volume will drop. This will give the front desk staff more time to connect with patients in the office and complete administrative tasks.
Automate (when possible). Are there tasks that take up most of your employees’ time? Can these tasks be automated? For example, instead of calling patients implement an automated text messaging reminder system. Or switch from paper surveys to digital surveys that automatically email after an appointment.
Streamlining the Mid-Office
Huddle. Gather your team for a brief meeting at the beginning of the day. Go over the day’s schedule. Connect on ways to improve in a positive, productive way. Staff check-ins have been known to enhance work day performance.
Organize exam rooms. Ensure that every exam room is set up in a uniform fashion with the forms, supplies, and equipment in the same place in every room. Stock exam rooms every morning and then also re-stock mid-day.
Streamlining the Back/Administrative Office
Take advantage of technology. Use an online portal instead of making your patients pay over the phone. Meet with your staff to understand ways to leverage technology and ease bottlenecks.
Track billing metrics. Monitor key metrics like net collection rate, claim denial rate, and bad debt rate, for example. Create specific goals and track these metrics over time.
Relook at work processes. Even though most of your patients will have insurance, many have high-deductible health plans. Review your work processes to determine your patients’ unmet deductible and either ask for dues at the time of service or shorten their collections cycle to ensure timely payment.
Share feedback. Share performance data with your staff. Make time at least once a month to discuss key performance indicators. If your employees know what you expect, they will want to work towards success.
By following these steps to streamline your practice you can reduce stress, boost productivity, improve your patient experience, and ensure that you stay above your competition.
For more information on healthcare payment processing, visit TSYS.com.
A version of this blog was originally published on Michelle’s Linkedin.
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