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14 reasons that front office employees are critical to outpatient physical therapy clinics' success

4 minutes, 45 seconds

Physical therapists are experts who are specifically trained to help individuals improve and restore mobility. Physical therapists need a team of administrative professionals to work behind the scenes to ensure that patients have an awesome experience. Your front desk staff can make or break a patient's first impression (and next impressions) of your clinic, which will affect whether they return for treatment and refer others to you. The front office staff at an outpatient physical therapy clinic is critical to ensuring that all aspects of clinic operations run smoothly. The following are specific reasons that front office employees are critical to outpatient physical therapy clinics' success:

  • Attention to detail.
  • Communication skills.
  • Customer service.
  • Personnel management.

It is the job of front office staff to manage many of the administrative tasks essential to running a successful clinic. This allows your health care providers to spend their time with patients.

14 vital contributions your front office employees can make

You can streamline your day to day by knowing what contributions your employees should be making. Thus, productivity is more efficient and professional.

  • Greeting patients ” Front desk employees are often the first people patients see when they walk in. Even if they have been to your clinic before, it is essential to ensure that every visit is welcoming and comfortable. A smile and some small talk go a long way in setting a positive tone for each visit. This can help patients feel like family or friends rather than strangers are seeing them.
  • Helping with patient intake ” A significant task that front office employees have is helping with patient intake. They're usually responsible for obtaining identification from each patient and managing their files. They also take care of insurance information and input data into patient files.
  • Scheduling appointments ” Your front office staff are responsible for scheduling appointments for both new and existing patients. Front office staff also take information from patients over the phone and enter it into your system as needed.
  • Verifying insurance coverage ” This is an essential part of any patient visit because it ensures correct billing and payment from payers, saving time and money for both the clinic and the patient in the long run.
  • Collecting money ” Front office employees can collect copays, deductibles and self-pay money due from patients upon arrival at your clinic. This helps ensure that you receive payment for services rendered in advance of those services being provided or billed out on claims submitted to insurance carriers. It also relieves financial pressure on the patient after their appointment when they have already received treatment for their condition(s).
  • Following up with patients ” Front office staff track cancellations and no-shows, but they can also seek out patients who fall off the radar completely. When a patient hasn't scheduled an appointment in weeks (or even months), they may give them a call. At times, an email reminder will be sent out before contacting a patient by phone.

This small gesture may be enough to convince a patient on the fence about continuing their outpatient physical therapy.

  • Billing patients ”Billing patients can be a challenge, especially since most insurance companies need specific paperwork to pay claims. The front office staff should know billing procedures and be able to answer patients' billing questions.
  • Acting as an in-house analyst ” They can help you keep track of performance metrics such as scheduling efficiency, revenue and appointment wait times ” all of which affect patient satisfaction and retention and influence your bottom line.
  • Building relationships ” They help keep up positive relationships with referring doctors and insurance companies. When a patient comes in with a referral from a doctor, the first person they meet is the front office staff member who welcomes them and begins the intake process. Insurance relationships are the same way. Front office staff need to keep good relationships so that claims can be submitted and paid on time.
  • Creating and updating patient files ” These employees gather essential patient information. Physical therapists can't plan or document visits properly without patient data. It's important that the front office staff know what information is needed from each patient so the physical therapists have it.
  • Filing insurance claims ” The front desk staff verify patient insurance benefits before appointments and collect copays. Additionally, they need to ensure the necessary documentation to bill for services rendered.
  • Cultivating client loyalty ” When clients visit your clinic, helpful front office employees can help them have a pleasant experience. The efforts of these employees can even lead to more referrals, customer loyalty and repeat visits.
  • Conducting in-house market research ” It can be helpful for marketing efforts if receptionists ask new clients how they found your clinic. Front-end workers can also collect patients' contact info for future promotions.
  • Reducing staff burnout ” By serving as a second pair of hands during "rush hours" or offloading administrative work from therapists, receptionists can help reduce staff burnout.

Front office admin is a crucial position in any health care organization. They're the first point of contact for patients at outpatient physical therapy clinics. Patients will often form their opinions about a business from their interactions with front office staff. In the end, they're the ones who build and maintain relationships with patients, doctors and insurance companies. Getting these tasks done isn't easy, but knowing how to handle the most prevalent challenges makes front office employees a vital part of making a PT practice stand out.

Your practice has been built. Take it to the next level with Alliance PTP

Alliance Physical Therapy Partners provides practice owners with opportunities to realize their dreams by providing the support and resources they need. Some of the resources we offer include:

  • Direct marketing for PT clinics.
  • HR and recruiting support.
  • Compliance support.
  • Revenue cycle expertise.
  • Financial services.

Your front desk attendant and other administrative staff are invaluable, but things can still fall through the cracks. Why not consider adding automation software to the team for more efficiency in scheduling? Alliance partners can take advantage of Alliance's electronic medical record service, Agile EMR. This tool is extremely configurable and intuitive. It was even designed to specifically meet the needs of growing physical therapy practices. You can also receive a 30-day free trial or book a demo! Get in touch with Alliance Physical Therapy Partners today to learn how you can become a member of our partnership in care.