Should Your Clinic Invest in Receptionist CE?
Should you invest in receptionist education and training? My argument is yes—and here’s why.
It’s Already Done in Human Medicine
Staff education and training is already performed on a regular basis in human medicine, and the advantages are seen in educational standards already employed in human health environments. The interrelationship between human medicine and veterinary medicine is rooted in our common body of knowledge, which then affords veterinary professionals the unique opportunity to benchmark our methods for staff training against the core competencies already established in human medicine.
Similar Advantages Exist in Veterinary Medicine
I entered the field of animal medicine in 2003, leaving behind a career in human medicine. The changeover was pretty easy because the quality and range of diagnostic tools and treatment options in veterinary medicine, in most ways, is on par with human health care. Both disciplines use similar blood tests, urine tests, and radiological studies to diagnose disease. Both use similar medications in the treatment of diabetes, infections, and renal failure.
Nowhere are the similarities more evident than in small animal practices.
In addition, the skills in a small animal practice are very similar to those required in human medicine, and the educational curriculum required to earn a degree as a veterinary doctor is just as arduous. However, culturally there is a major difference between the two disciplines of medicine.
Why Veterinary Receptionist CE is Even More Important
Within human medicine, clients rate their encounters based on their clinical experience and treatment options.
Within veterinary medicine, clients claim to select their veterinarian based on the quality of medicine too…but when you dig deeper into the client responses to questions posed in the Braake or Bayer studies, what clients label as “good medicine,” is really much more about good client service.
So much of our practice success, then, is really based on the development of our personal relationships with our clients. Why then do we leave so much to risk by ignoring the true value found in strategic, formal training for our receptionist staff, which provide the first and last impressions of us for the clients we serve?
While the technological advancements and tools of the trade are identical in veterinary medicine and human health care, so too are the roles of our support staff in clinical practices.
So wouldn’t it make sense to create a more formal method of training our front desk personnel, rather than leave it solely up to our efforts for on the job training? More importantly, we can’t afford to think of training as optional because of its expense, but rather we can consider training as essential because it’s an investment that should yield a positive return on investment. The key to successful training is to understand what will help your practice and where you have deficiencies, which if corrected, would reap benefits to your bottom line. Your employees are a business asset, and therefore, an investment in strengthening their skills and knowledge should have a significant pay off for your financial results.
Is receptionist CE right for your clinic? View and download this handout to help you and your clinic decide.
Recently, as an AVIMark paperless medical record practice, we were notified of AVIMark’s updated version of on line training called AVImark Online Academcy. The justification for the on-demand online training tool is that “…many hospitals focus on the technical aspects of training, such as vaccines and flea lifecycles, but fail to spend time providing clear instructions on how to interact with the pet owner. These skills can and should be taught to every staff member.”
This article will not propose a formal curriculum, although it’s food for thought on what our industry needs to do to remain progressive. There are specific reasons that we should look to our human medicine counterparts to avoid reinventing the wheel.
We should look at some of the elements of training that go into preparing candidates for a career in medical reception that are offered through vocational and academic programs, and see if we can incorporate any ideas from their industry to ours. Medical receptionists play a vital role in the orderly delivery of health care at every hospital or practice. As such, our receptionist training should include soft and hard skills as well as technical training.
If someone we knew was going to be a medical receptionist in human medicine, that person would be taught about:
• Patient charts
• Confidentiality issues
• Appointment scheduling
• Insurance records
• Records and data entry
• Recording medical histories
• Writing correspondence
• Ordering supplies
• Arranging hospital care for patients
• Medical computer applications
o Registering patients
o Updating existing patient demographics
• Answering telephones
• Greeting patients and visitors
• Medical office procedures
• Medical laws and ethics
• Medical terminology
Every successful reception training program should have established timelines for learning to achieve desired results. This is another way of communicating your expectations of job performance. Tasks that should be included in all reception training should include, but not be limited to:
o Appointment scheduling
o How to manage no-show’s, confirm appointments, triage follow ups
o Collect lab specimens, medical record management
o New software training
o Accounting responsibilities
o Handle client complaints
o Prescription filling, treatment plans, and estimates
o OSHA training, forms updates, compliance protocols
o Marketing and promoting your practice
o Morning, mid day and afternoon checklists
o Order supplies/restocking supplies
o Product review, particularly flea, tick and heartworm prevention
o Learn incentive programs
o Time clock operation and expectations for timeliness
o Attendance, other HR policies, dress code, cell phone and Internet
See these resources for formal receptionist CE and training.
Rather than see it as training, consider education a job performance program. A job performance program identifies a list of competencies that will help the staff improve the execution of their duties. This in turn will be their path to improving their effectiveness and contribution to the clinic’s overall success.
The more we encourage staff to hone their skills through the various methods and resources available, the more we strengthen our operations. In any economic environment, we need to target our business results through strategic and purposeful education and training programs.