Training Medical Receptionists

Medical Receptionists often start new positions with either no previous work history in healthcare or their training and understanding of receptionist work is based on another industry or medical specialty.  Most offices have various methods of training, there is no one size fits all when it comes to healthcare front desk responsibilities.

Some organizations have standard training procedures that include videos and training manuals that must be reviewed prior to the hands-on training.  This may include basic customer service, information regarding billing, and most importantly the electronic medical record or practice management system they will be required to use.

Starting a new position can be quite intimidating regardless of your level of experience.  Having a reliable training program or process usually helps individuals get to a level of independence the job requires.  Most often managers will spend time with new hires initially.  The manager or supervisor will assist the employee with access to any programs or online resources they need.  They provide contacts, reference materials, expectations, and complete the onboarding process.  They may even conduct the first steps of training to be sure the employee understands the expectations of the job.

While managers will jump in to get their new hires ready, they often do not have the time to spend 2 weeks training an employee.  In fact, you will find that colleagues tend to train those who will be doing the same job they do.  The benefits of this include experienced front desk staff training new front desk staff.  Those who are doing the job daily can provide more insight than even a manager can in some instances.  Management wants employees to have the best opportunity to succeed and that doesn’t mean they have to be the one to conduct their training.  Leaning on their seasoned professional staff members is a sign of leadership and understanding.  They also show trust in the current staff to bring new employees up to speed.

Some recommendations during training would be to always leave space for questions.  Allow the new staff member to make the calls, enter information into the system, take messages and conduct scheduling.  You can coach them through it but don’t wait 5 days before you allow someone to get their hands dirty.  You can show someone the same thing repeatedly, but it most often sticks when they can complete the action themselves.  How will you know how someone will communicate with patients if you don’t allow them to do just that.  It is much easier to implement corrections during a probationary or training period than it is once they are fully integrated into your practice or healthcare organization.

During training we generally focus on the daily routine that needs to take place.  We often forget that these new hires also need to be able to stay organized.  Making sure new Medical Receptionists stay organized requires that they have everything they need for their job at their desk.  It may be as simple as providing them with a desk organizer or an ergonomic chair.  It might mean they need binders or folders to keep documents and forms arranged and accessible.  You also must make sure they have access to printers and fax.

If there are policies that directly pertain to front desk staff such as “no food at the desk” or “no cell phone use during work hours” they need to be made aware of that during training. Another good idea to implement when training is to never assume.  Never assume what the person knows.  Show them and explain everything you can, ask them if they understand.  This will often help them with asking questions about what they have been taught.  You will eventually realize what they need more help on and where they feel confident.  Even if your employer or organization has a well-structured or robust training program, there is one last thing I would suggest as part of your onboarding.  Survey the new hire after 30-60 days.  Inquire about how effective they feel the training was and find out if they felt prepared once they were on their own.  This will help for when you must train another new employee and also let you know where the new hire may need some additional guidance.

If you, your office, or front desk staff is struggling with customer service and communication consider the Medical Receptionist Success Training course.


Front Desk and Patient Retention

As Healthcare evolves patient retention is always a major part of how healthcare organizations will remain successful.  In any industry the relationships with your repeat client/customers is what the company’s success stands on.  Loyal patients are where trust relationships develop, that is where future referrals come from, that is also where you see results in treatment and recommendations. How would a provider truly measure outcomes if patients never come back to follow up or continue care?  They would not be able to gauge their own impact on their practice.  Having these clients also allows for providers to continue to grow as they learn in real time the effectiveness of prescribed and recommended treatments on their patient population, they can see what works in their current environments and what is affecting the community of those environments the most.  This helps improve individualized care over time and provides patient satisfaction, not only through patient care but also the knowledge of the provider.

Good experiences allow for your patients to feel understood and cared for by your facility.  Even if we step outside of the medical office and hop over to a radiology facility, the patient retention is just as important.  Although the patient may only come in once a year, the facility would want that patient to return year after year.  If the techs performing the service are not professional, or not attentive to the patients needs at that time, the patient may try a different facility the next year.  You could potentially lose a patient and never know why.  A client that does not require much care in a years’ time is much more likely to take time and find a new physician or group to join before the next visit needs to be scheduled.

How are Medical Receptionist assisting with patient retention this year? Have things changed drastically? Should we be considering some other approaches?  These are all good questions, I believe that the ability to retain patients is a group effort, everyone the patient meets is a part of their experience coming to your medical practice.  We have seen new obstacles with patients being hesitant to obtain routine care or waiting as long as they can to address problems.  Not only due to the cost of healthcare but also the pandemic.  Some people have even delayed or avoided emergency room visits due to fear of COVID-19.  Once these patients reach your office, they have a more urgent need than you may normally expect as they are hoping they can receive the care they need with their primary or specialist without a hospital visit.  Medical Receptionists are also faced with appropriately booking these patients and making sure they are directing certain patients to a clinical staff member for a proper triage of the situation.

We have seen how much can be done, even when strict restrictions were put in place.  Every industry had to find creative and some not so creative ways to keep things moving.  From a front desk perspective, several different processes have taken place to protect patients and staff.  Including registering patients from the car, over the phone.  While patients may not be communicating with you as much face to face, the phone interactions are still just as important.

Assisting someone with online forms and directing them where they need to go without them being in front of you requires patience.  Some patients are not as accustomed to some of the new processes and may require a little additional assistance.  With so much phone and online communication happening it is important that the front desk staff obtain as much accurate information as possible the first time a patient calls in.  I can imagine that nurses and physicians are sometimes overwhelmed with call backs for results and imaging.  Having a front desk that understands how to best route calls and take messages is extremely important and beneficial to patients, clinical staff and the overall flow of the practice.

If you are allowing multiple patients to wait in your waiting room, what have you done to make them feel safe?  These are the questions we must ask when things change.  Something as simple as disinfecting chairs or shared tables along with a little distance between seats could be the answer.  We are now coming to a time where restrictions are reducing, however every office will not be as quick as others to fill up the waiting room.  The risk level of the patients you treat will be a factor.  Your location is also a factor.  No matter how fast or slow things return to a level of normalcy I am sure we have all learned some ways to better manage areas of the check-in/checkout process, as well as prioritizing tasks, appointments, and the needs of the patient population.

I do not believe the core values that retained patients before has changed much, it just may need to be demonstrated more strongly in other areas as we move forward.  Also, experiencing the same level of professional service and follow up every time a patient visits or contacts your office is particularly important to their overall view and experience.

As Medical Receptionists you will never control your patients’ clinical needs or treatment, but you can control the experience upon entry and exit.  You are the first and last impression on the phone and within the office.  Your impact is important to how families and visitors view your practice and whether they will return in the future.  The best advice is to treat people the same way you would expect yourself or family members to be treated in a healthcare setting.

Lastly, your interactions with your co-workers at the front desk is also impactful to how a patient will feel about the office and the way the office functions.  If you are rude or communicate badly with your fellow staff members it will reflect negatively on the practice.  You should not only respect and communicate well with your patients you must demonstrate that same level of professionalism with your colleagues.

For more from Medical Receptionist Network visit

Interested in Medical Receptionist Success Training Course for your office? Visit our website or email

Medical Receptionist Handbook to Success now available on our website or Amazon