Tips for success as a medical receptionist

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Whether working at a private practice or as part of a larger institution, medical receptionists are the first people most patients see on any given visit. This makes a medical receptionist's appearance and conduct particularly important, because he or she is representing the business and should give off a friendly, welcoming vibe. If you're considering becoming a receptionist at a health care facility or are looking to improve your skills, here are a few tips to keep in mind. 

Make a great impression 
Because in some ways you're the face of the business, it's critical that you make a great impression with patients. Often, the best way to make an impression on patients is by talking to them as soon as possible. Many people who go to medical practices are either ill or in a rush. Dropping other responsibilities to help a patient quickly is a good way to show that your practice cares and can lead to positive feedback. 

While helping your patients out quickly is key to success, another smart way to make a good impression is to communicate when things are backed up. Doctors are busy and later appointments may be delayed. Patients will appreciate you letting them know the wait time and if rescheduling is preferable. 

Keep the schedule full 
Medical billing and consulting firm Capture Billing advised receptionists to not let patients leave without making another appointment for the future. Not only is this a good idea for their health, but it's important to the business as well. By scheduling appointments, your accounting team can have a good idea of what revenue to expect in the future. Also, people often forget to make follow-up appointments, so talking to patients when they're on the way out the door is the best way to ensure they come back. This usually requires a bit of vigilance and attention to detail to make sure nobody is leaving while you deal with a busy workload. 

Keep records up to date
Medical receptionists are often required to do a variety of administrative tasks, which can include record management. Whether you're using a paper-based record filing system or electronic health records, it's important to stay current with your records. Make sure that doctors will be able to access patient information easily and that everything is up to date. The Houston Chronicle explained why keeping up with records is critical to a practice's profitability. 

"Inaccurate and outdated information submitted to medical billing staff can cause delays in a medical office's insurance reimbursements," the newspaper wrote. "A medical receptionist guards against these delays by ensuring that she scans or copies each patient's insurance card. If the patient has not been to the medical office in a while, the medical receptionist should also ask the patient to provide demographics information so that the medical office's files remain current."

Receptionists should take advantage of classes and learning sessions for complicated EHR programs. They can be hugely helpful for learning this critical record-keeping and patient communication software. 

Have the right appearance 
When you're the gatekeeper to the practice, it's critical that you look the part. Wearing professional attire is important to give yourself authority in situations with patients. Slip-resistant shoes should also be part of your uniform. There are a variety of reasons why a hospital's or practice's floors may be slippery, which means that stylish, professional nonslip shoes can really come in handy. They'll let you keep your footing while helping out patients. 

Develop great phone skills 
Receptionists don't just greet people, they spend a significant amount of time on the phone as well. Communicating tone and nonverbal cues through the phone can be difficult. Consider researching techniques on how to improve your phone demeanor so that you come off just as friendly on the phone as you do in person. 

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