Poor front office efficiency is a major contributor to the epidemic of physician and medical staff burnout. Characterized by work-related exhaustion and doubt of professional abilities, burnout affects 30 to 60 percent of physicians across various specialties struggling to maintain a balance between work and home. And, it often doesn’t stop with the clinical team. Rather, it acts as a domino effect, trickling down to nurse care managers and front office staff.
A 2017 study conducted by the Journal of General Internal Medicine reported nearly half of nurse care managers and 36 percent of front office staff identified as feeling burned out as a result of lackluster front office efficiency, as well as:
- Inadequate staffing
- Excessive hours
- Overloaded schedules
- Staff turnover
- Labor-intensive workflows
To make matters worse, clinical and administrative burnout often impacts a practice’s ability to deliver quality patient care, resulting in poorer outcomes and lower patient satisfaction. After all, every patient’s visit begins and ends at your front desk. If you lack front office efficiency and your staff is disgruntled, discouraged, or stressed, this can lead to unintentionally negative interactions with your patients.
In this resource-constrained industry, it’s more important than ever to continually refine workflows that make the most of everyone’s time and energy. Here are six ways you can improve your front office efficiency and make the day-to-day less stressful and more enjoyable for your staff.
1. Automate Appointment Reminders
Another simple way to improve front office efficiency is through automatic appointment reminders. Traditionally, front office staff manually reached out to each and every patient to remind and confirm appointments prior to the patient’s arrival. This approach is as time-consuming as it sounds and isn’t scalable across large patient populations. In addition, many calls often go unanswered, leaving your front office staff frustrated.
Text, voice, or email automated reminders can be customized to remind patients of upcoming visits at regular intervals. And, patients can designate which communication channel works best for them. This provides multiple options for patients to confirm or reschedule appointments in case their schedule changes, without your staff needing to.
2. Standardize Appointment Filling for Late Cancellations
When a patient cancels an appointment with short notice, your practice is left with unfulfilled appointments and lost revenue. Rather than having your staff scramble through manual waitlists to fill the open appointment slot, automated scheduling systems can identify patients who are most likely to have last-minute availability and offer them the vacant appointment slot.
By automating this process, you not only improve your front office efficiency by simplifying the workflow for your front office, you also improve patient satisfaction by providing opportunities to get patients seen earlier.
3. Hyper-Target Communication Campaigns
With already constrained staff resources, individual patient outreach via phone or mailers is not sustainable—or effective. In addition, outdated care delivery models make it difficult to for your front office to efficiently scale population engagement. As reimbursement models shift towards value-based payment, successful population health engagement requires new workflows aligned with value-based care, leveraging technology, such as secured text messages and emails, to improve your front office’s ability to deliver patient-centered outreach at scale.
4. Integrate Transportation Services with Your EHR
When improving front office efficiency, many organizations note the value in enhancing patient access by addressing common barriers such as scheduling conflicts. But many front office staff may feel frustrated when there’s nothing they can do to help a patient arrive at their appointment. Transportation barriers in both urban and rural communities limit a patient’s ability to attend scheduled appointments, but technology is enabling synchronization with rideshare services, such as Uber and Lyft, to help patients receive rides to and from their appointments.
These transportation services and community partnerships are helping healthcare organizations establish access to care for their patients without the front office needing to identify and screen for patients who may not be able to obtain reliable transportation on their own. Whether it’s a financial barrier or a physical limitation, health systems can partner with automated solutions that integrate with their electronic health record. From insurance to condition and treatment, this kind of software uses filtering criteria to determine eligibility for patients who may need a ride. Your front office staff will feel empowered to assist with transportation, ensuring each and every patient has access to the care they need.
5. Digitize Patient Feedback
Patient feedback is the cornerstone of continually improving quality of care and service delivery but outdated manual surveys stall your front office efficiency, as they are labor-intensive and time-consuming to manage. Instead, leverage technology that distributes patient surveys or quick opportunities for feedback to your patients immediately following their visit in order to capture their experience in real-time.
Patients who respond positively can automatically be routed to review sites to leave comments about their experience, saving your front office the time of sending manual letters, surveys, and emails to prompt online reviews. Additionally, negative responses can trigger alerts for your office staff to provide real-time service recovery, allowing your practice’s front office to intervene before a poor experience becomes a negative rating.
6. Offer Online Scheduling
Online scheduling is a great place to start when working to improve your front office efficiency. The scheduling process has the ability to be frictionless, converting patient demand online into new patient volume—and revenue. Not to mention, consumers have come to expect the opportunity to book, cancel, or reschedule appointments online.
With all of the EMR-integrated scheduling solutions available today, online scheduling boasts the ability to improve your front office efficiency nearly overnight. No longer a novelty, self-service scheduling has the ability to greatly reduce call the call volume for your practice. This provides the front desk more time to engage with patients and check off other administrative tasks more quickly.
In addition to opening up your phone lines, self-service scheduling also helps your practice fill same-day appointments and book more patients, 24 hours a day, seven days a week since patients don’t have to wait for your desks to be staffed to schedule. Meanwhile, your front office efficiency improves, as staff is less burdened by the manual effort of taking calls when they could be interacting with patients and other high-value activities.
By replacing manual operational workflows with automation, your team is empowered to monitor and manage workflows while freeing up time for high-value activities such as engaging patients with a genuine smile and managing the day-to-day tasks required to operationally run your practice. Not only will your front office efficiency improve, your staff will feel less stressed with their ability to focus on what they need to do rather than putting out fires as they arise.
To learn more about how Providertech can help save your front office time and frustration, contact us today for a consultation with our experts.