When hiring for your front office team, it’s simple…you want the best. The individuals in your front office can make or break how successful your clinic is. After all, they are responsible for leaving a great first impression with patient’s, making sure your schedule is full, starting the billing cycle and handling insurance verification, if applicable. Your front office sets the tone and is the face of your clinic, so you want to make sure you’re hiring professionals who best align with you and your business.
First, how do you determine how to properly staff your front office? That’s a great question and will vary based on the stage of business you are in. To start, you need to consider all of the tasks that the front office will be responsible for. These tasks may include, but are not limited to:
- Scheduling and confirming patient appointments
- Checking patients in and out of the clinic
- Verifying insurance benefits
- Accepting and processing copays at time of session
- Submitting insurance claims
- Responding to emails and voicemails
- Answering phone calls
- Processing new patient paperwork
- Maintaining and pulling patient files
- Compiling and explaining new patient paperwork at patient’s initial visit
- Managing practice marketing (if you do not have a separate marketing team)
- Accepting and processing feedback and satisfaction surveys
- Filling out superbill templates (specifically for cash-based clinics)
Next, you will have to sit down and consider how much time these tasks are likely to take. If you are a new practice and this is something you, as the therapist, has been doing up until this point, you can approximate the time these tasks will take, based on your own experience.
Once you have figured out how many hours it will take, you can then use that to determine how many staff members you will need. Remember to add in additional time (i.e. 15-25%) to your final number to allow for breaks, emergencies and anything else that may arise unexpectedly. Then divide the daily hours you determine by 8 (for a full time employee) or 4 (for a part time employee) and that will tell you the number of front desk staff you need on a daily basis!
The number of front office staff will vary from practice to practice, depending on what stage of business growth you are in, but a lot of times roles are broken down into receptionist, billing clerk, and office manager. If you are a newer practice and you are not making a lot of profit yet, then you can hire one person to perform all three roles, but it is imperative that you make sure they have the appropriate experience, in order for them and your clinic to be successful.
If you can afford to hire more than one person for your front office, then you absolutely should because as we said before, the front office staff are quite literally the face of your clinic. When hiring more than one person, you have some flexibility with the necessary experience each person should have, as the roles of the receptionist, billing clerk, and office manager, while sometimes may overlap, in general are vastly different.
Once you’ve figured out exactly how you want your front office structured, you are ready to post an ad for the job(s) and see who applies! Below are a couple of tips for how to ensure you are attracting the best talent for the position:
- Make your job descriptions interesting: No one likes a boring or cliche job description. Instead your job description should be clear and contain something that sets your office apart, such as your clinic’s personality or culture. This will also help weed out candidates who won’t be a good fit, before they even have an interview.
- Be upfront and clear about who you are looking for: Being honest and transparent from the beginning will save you so much time and potential headaches when it comes to interviewing your candidates. Be honest about the kind of front office member you want on your team, include the day-to-day expectations of the role, and your plan for measuring performance. As long as these are clearly communicated, there should be no misunderstanding about what you are looking for in your practice.
- Make an offer they can’t refuse: Be sure you make an offer that communicates the value you know this person is going to bring to your clinic. The best way to do this is to do research on the market value in your area and consider other benefits (health insurance, 401k, etc.) to improve your offer. Most importantly, make sure your offer is within your price range and aligns with where you see your clinic going!
Hiring front office staff can be nerve wracking and scary, but there’s no reason to fear as now you have all the tips and tricks for building your own front office staff without all of the added stress.