4 Hidden Bottlenecks in Your Practice: How to Banish Them

Leigh Page


July 17, 2018

In This Article

Front Desk Staff Gets Overwhelmed With Tasks

3. Patients Backed Up at the Front Desk

The bottleneck: Receptionists are too busy with other chores to greet patients when they arrive and get their registration started.


Don't make receptionists answer the phones. When receptionists are assigned to answering the phone, they continually have to decide between the phone and the arriving patient standing before them.

Morgan says that one person can do both jobs in a solo practice, but not in practices of any larger size. "Staff are expected to multitask, but it usually means they don't do any of their tasks well," she says. "Incoming calls divert staff from signing in patients."

"Assign a different person for each job, and then cross-train them so that they can help each other out in high-volume periods," Morgan says.

Simplify patient questionnaires. Brown says patients are often required to fill out the same information again and again. This can lengthen the form-filling process as well as annoy your patients. Review your forms to see whether you've captured key information in a different form.

Use a patient portal. Having a portal on your website where patients can fill out forms also helps. "The benefit of having this information in electronic form is that you can add it directly to the chart," Brown says.

Have patients provide information in advance. Patients can download the registration questionnaire from the practice's website and fill it out before they come in for an appointment. However, Morgan says patients usually have to be reminded to do this.

Early check-in is especially useful for insurance information, Girgis says. "If staff can call the patient and get the insurance information, it can be verified by the time they come in," she says.

Provide a tablet for patients to register while in your waiting room. Having patients use an electronic tablet to fill out their information eliminates the problem of poor handwriting, Morgan says. The tablet may also speed up the process.

Morgan says patients can use the tablet to make their copayment and even set up payment plans, and it ensures more privacy than having to talk about payment issues with the receptionist.

Help patients fill out paperwork. Patients who are impaired, have low literacy, or don't speak English well may need help filling out their forms.

"In my practice, we have a lot of immigrants," Girgis says. "The staff sits down with them and helps them to fill out the forms that our office uses."

This may mean pulling staff from other duties—or, in a larger practice, assigning staff to do this work. These staffers may be bilingual or trained to deal with specific paperwork, such as Medicaid or workers' compensation forms.


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