Healthcare organizations all across the nation recognize the value of patient satisfaction. With the rising patient expectations and the emergence of social media and mobile devices, healthcare providers have been more vigilant in their quest to deliver excellent patient experiences. However, your practice won’t be able to provide a great patient experience if there is a misunderstanding, or gap, between your front desk staff and back office staff. If there is a gap, or bad communication, it will cause frustration and tension among your staff members - and in turn, it can affect the quality of care that is provided to patients.
So, if you are a physician or office manager, you need to ask yourself these questions:
Is your back office staff talking to your front office staff?
Are they communicating well?
If the answer is no, then you might have a budding problem on your hands.
Why Should You Take the Time to Recognize and Address this Gap?
If you run a medical clinic, you ensure that your operation is running at an optimal level. For that to happen, you need to unify your front and back offices. Your front office is in charge of greeting patients, answering and managing the telephone, and scheduling appointments. It is the focal point in your clinic since this is the team/area that has an immediate impact on your patients. On the other hand, your back office deals with patient data and handles all the billing tasks and responsibilities. Done in the background, they act as the backbone that supports all patient interactions. This unit is mostly composed of medical coders and billers.
Unifying these two offices may seem simple enough to do, however the reality is that it doesn’t often happen. And the result of there being a lack of unity will cause a negative impact on your practice’s productivity, profitability, and growth. You need to remember that in order for your medical practice to have long-term viability and sustainability, you should find ways to address the gap between your back and front office.
How to Bridge the Gap Between the Front and Back Office Staff
Believe it or not, your patients can tell when your front and back offices are poorly integrated. And this decreases their level of satisfaction and confidence in your practice. This is why there is a need to continuously make an effort to bridge the gap between your front and back office.
We want your practice to be operationally and financially healthy, so we’ve listed four ways to solve this problem and create a cohesive team that is focused on productivity and revenue generation:
- Communicate properly.
One way of bridging the gap between the front and back office is through effective communication. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the only way to achieve effective medical care is to create an environment built on good communication. Communicating clear and concise information is vital in the healthcare industry. And in order for communication to be completed, there must be an idea to be shared - someone that gives an idea and someone who receives it. It is important to remember that communication is a two-way street. When it becomes one-sided, miscommunication and misunderstanding arises. This could lead to unmet expectations and poor results. You should also note that miscommunication in the medical office can be costly, both physically and financially, which is something you want to avoid.
- Develop policies and procedures that support collaborative workflows.
The front and back office have different tasks and activities to perform. However, both departments need something from each other to help them successfully complete tasks. You can create checklists and protocols that ensure that the front office staff collects all the information that medical coders and billers need to submit claims successfully. Patients and other healthcare professionals appreciate this kind of efficiency. You can also create a denial management policy that requires coders and billers to inform front office staff on the common reasons why claims are denied so it can be avoided. Even though the front and back office have role-specific responsibilities, they still need to know how they, and other staff members, play a role in the overall efficiency of your medical practice.
- Organize monthly meetings.
Monthly meetings are a great form of communication for the entire practice and should be done on a regular basis. This is where physicians, managers, and staff members can address their problems and issues. This can be a great place to discuss the types of denials the back office staff receives or how the front office can help reduce the risk of denials. The front office staff can share details about the type of information they need from the back office to be more efficient. Basically, these monthly meetings should be held to ensure that billing challenges, clinical inefficiencies, and other problems that are faced by the whole clinic are addressed properly.
- Engage staff to cross-train and participate in team-building activities.
To help your front office and back office staff better understand the roles they play in your practice, educate and train them. For example, the back office can spend an hour or two learning the tasks of the front office staff so that they’ll know the problems the front office staff face on a daily basis. Likewise, the front office staff can also allot a portion of their time to learn basic coding or get trained on billing processes so that they’ll know how one billing mistake can affect the process of submitting proper claims. This way, they can take learn one another’s perspective and help them to work together in a more unified manner.
Aside from the cross-training, you can also encourage your front office and back office staff to engage in fun activities such as biking or bowling to help them bond. It is also a great way to get for all your staff members to get to know the people that they’re working with. Their willingness to work together as a team may also improve, eventually translating to better patient care.
These strategies can help you bridge the gap between your front office and the back office staff members. It can also help your medical practice improve profitability and quality of care. However, should you decide to outsource some of your front or back office operations, DrCatalyst can definitely help you. Our administrative services and end-to-end RCM services can help your practice increase your revenue and the reduce billing inefficiencies that are hurting your cash flow.
Schedule a meeting with one of our specialists today to learn more!