The front office is a very important aspect of your medical practice and crucial to its success as it sets the tone when the patient arrives. Efficient front office staff enhances the patient experience and reduces wait times, which can make a big difference to your patient retention rate and new referrals. The front desk handles major tasks such as customer management, capture and verification of patient demographics, and appointment scheduling. It would be no exaggeration to say that physician practices are only as good as their front desk. You can optimize this space by relying on virtual medical office services.
Importance of Front Desk Management
The front office is the first physical point of contact between the patient and the healthcare practice. Good impressions be fostered or destroyed at the front office. The efficiency of the practice also largely rests on the efficiency of the front office. Improving front office efficiency should therefore be one of the major areas of attention of any type of business. So is your front desk performing well?
Now let’s see what goes into a front office and what areas need to be improved upon. In healthcare practices and hospitals, the front office has many important responsibilities including appointment scheduling and insurance verification, the first step in medical billing. How these tasks are carried out would significantly impact your bottom line.
Efficient Front Office Staff
The front office staff should ensure that patient forms are correctly filled out and verify insurance information. When dealing with medical insurance, the receptionist would also have to use the EMR system, schedule appointments for new and returning patients, collect patient co-pays, help with billing for collecting patient balances, route calls to the respective departments, and perform end of day closing duties. Therefore, the first step to an efficient front office is hiring experienced and efficient staff including the receptionist.
Improving Front Office Processes
The next step is ensuring that front office processes work smoothly.
1. Patient and Insurance Information Capture
- An efficient process would involve collection of the essential information right at the time the appointment phone call. Details including patient demographics, name of the insurance company, insurance ID, primary physician, and reason for visit must be collected by the front office. Demographic updates should be done on an annual basis and insurance cards should be copied or scanned every time a patient is seen. All this will make the task of insurance eligibility verification easier and more efficient.
2. Appointment Scheduling and Medical Billing
- The first step in the medical billing process also begins at the front office. The patient schedules an appointment and the front office staff carries out the pre-registration process that must include scheduling a time slot when the patient calls for an appointment. If it is a first time patient, the procedure would be more extensive. The patient’s basic information including insurance details, name of the provider and policy number form the basis of the patient file, which is an important point of reference in the billing process.
- The front office responsibilities also involve updating these medical files which improves efficiency of the patient check-in and billing process.
Whatever it takes, healthcare practices should streamline front desk management. Innovative solutions are needed to cope with the challenges without compromising on efficiency. Sensitive, courteous and culturally and linguistically proficient services and support are the key features of an efficient front desk. It is also essential that your front office staff is well versed in the policies, and knowledgeable of the procedures that your practice has in place. Outsourcing can improve front office efficiency while reducing the burden on your resources. Professional companies provide customized virtual front desk solutions by for physicians’ offices.