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A Letter to Today's Receptionist | Therapy Article World

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A Letter to Today's Receptionist

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Posted by: Alex on 03/04/2012
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Dear Receptionists,

 

Many people today do not like to go to any doctor's office. No matter how many surveys you take, the same responses arise. Eventually, it all boils down to you, the receptionist. The front desk is not typically a very popular place. Misconceptions have certainly watered down people's expectations of what the front desk should be like. So, why not ask yourself what you have disliked about the offices you have been to? Why not place yourself in the patient's shoes and make the changes that are staring you right in the face?

 

What is a receptionist?

Most people think of a receptionist as the person who answers phones, schedules appointments, and messes about with papers. I'm sure you were probably told to be nice to the patients and make them feel welcome, but the real questions are, How? and Why? Well, what is your job as a receptionist? Quite frankly it is your job to make the patients like your office. It is your job to make them want to keep coming and to bring their friends and family as well. It is your job to meet their expectations and more. However, the main ingredient is to sincerely care. You can't unlock someone’s healing potential if you don’t really care about unlocking it in the first place. The patient will know whether you really care or not, and they will judge you and the office on that basis.

 

A word from the patients themselves

Speaking of surveys, I recently conducted a small, experimental survey. My first question was, "What do you hate most about going to the doctor’s office?” The second question was, "What would make the doctor’s office visits better?” The third question was, "What types of expectations do you have when you go to the doctor’s office?” I noticed an immediate pattern in the responses.

 

Patients hate waiting.

"I hate how they make you wait." – Michael

"I don't like how they make you wait." – Kiara

"They make you wait forever, when you have an appointment!!!" – Amy

"I had to wait three weeks to get the appointment, an hour in the waiting lobby, and 15 more minutes in the patient room." – Avanti

"I hate waiting for ever." – Ariell

"The wait, I understand they are helping others, but they act like I'm at a drive thru and they are on a timer to get me out as fast as possible... Why can't I get the same consideration for my time?" – Michelle

 

Receptionists, I don’t think they like to wait. So what do you do about it? Take authority in your position! Make sure that your calendar is free from scheduling mistakes, ensure that the patients are aware of their appointment time, and kick your coworkers in the butt! Not literally, but it’s important for each teammate to be accountable. The whole team needs to know how important each patient’s time is to them. So make sure your whole team is resolved not to waste it.

 

Patients want to know how much they are paying and what they are paying for.

"They actually see you for like 5 mins then the bill is like $500." – Michael

"I once had a $7000 hospital bill!" – Avanti

"I think each patient should be treated as valued instead of valuable($)." – Courtney

 

So what do you do about this? Be clear. Don’t keep your patients in the dark. If you really don’t know, at least give them something. There is nothing wrong with a ballpark figure as long as they know it’s just a field estimate. Give them options that work for their budget. Work with your patients! Show them that you understand how important their money is to them.

 

Patients need to feel important.

"I expect the doctor to take more than 10 minutes talking to me." – Avanti

"I have low expectations. I expect to wait a while before talking to my doctor. Feeling rushed when I actually do see him. Never being able to express all of my concerns because of how uncomfortably rushed I feel. And that I’ll probably just leave with another useless prescription and feel like it was pointless anyways. Which is why I don't care to go to the doctor anymore." – Amy

"I abhor any doctors office that has an impersonal feel… Make a good point of making the patient feel like family with follow-up calls and such - directly from the physician." – Courtney

"[I expect] for the doctor to actually listen to me and help me fix the issue not just give me a pill or send me somewhere else to try and have the problem fixed." – Michelle

 

Are your patients actually important to you? Do you know their names when they first walk in the door? Do you know something personal about any of them? Well, start getting to know your patients, receptionist. Build those relationships. Make eye contact, really listen, and be interested. Nothing is more important than the patients that walk through your door, so don’t let them feel otherwise by being distracted by things that can wait. An email can wait. Your phone has a hold button for a reason. Those papers you are organizing don’t have feelings and won’t get upset if you put them down. Those patients need your full attention, so do your best to give it to them. They will notice your effort, and they will appreciate it. And that, receptionists, is a job well done.

 

 

So in conclusion, I just want to let you know that the patients need you too! Don’t look at them as people you have to deal with. It’s a lot easier to help them than you think. Not only will the patients appreciate you, but you can also play a big part in helping your office to grow. Don’t limit yourself to being the stereotypical, irritable, busy receptionist, and don’t be afraid to ask for the training you need. Being a receptionist can be a fun and rewarding experience, but it’s up to you how fun and rewarding it will be.

 

 

Sincerely,

 

Alex Wyatt

Receptionist

Indefree PT & Pain Center

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