Being a Medical Receptionist in a COVID-19 World

Medical communities all over the country are adjusting to the Coronavirus pandemic.  Administrators and physician owners have had to change the way care is provided in offices and facilities almost overnight.  Employers at large have had to make excruciating decisions regarding employees, finances, and closing business altogether.  During this unprecedented time, people are filled with uncertainty, anxiety, stress, and hope regarding everything that is happening now and what is to come.  As a part of the healthcare community, Medical Receptionists are very much a part of the frontline in many places.  The responsibilities and risks associated with being a front desk or front office employee have expanded.  

Medical Receptionists are the first people to set patients up for an appointment whether it be over the phone or in person.  Phone triage has been more important in decision making regarding who may enter a medical office and under what conditions. Receptionists are also adjusting to the increase or adoption of telemedicine practices.  Receptionists are now asking more specific questions so they can make the right decision on what happens next for the patient.  Before the specifics and severity of the Coronavirus became well-known, receptionists were checking in people as normal and that doesn’t always allow for a 6ft distance between them or them taking more protective measures.  Now that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other sources have provided specific guidelines and resources, offices and healthcare facilities have been able to make better accommodations and adjustments in the offices to protect staff and patients. 

Management of healthcare services and access is the priority right now to focus on the many people that have become ill due to COVID-19 exposure. Lack of PPE and other necessary equipment and staff has posed a great hardship on the people working to save lives daily.  

Those of you who have been fortunate enough to retain employment at this time are most likely dealing with another set of concerns.  Childcare, being exposed and potentially exposing family members to the virus, uncertainty about finances due to a spouse or family unable to work, lack of support from management in some cases, and job security.  You may be worried about family and friends who are alone or far away.  You may have parents/grandparents in long term care who you are unable to visit.   The list could go on and on.  Remember you are only one person and you can only focus on so many things at one time.  Take moments for yourself, even just a few minutes to decompress and breathe.  Do what you can, when you can.  Make the decisions that are best for you and your family.  Follow the hygiene guidelines when returning home from work.  It is hard to stay positive when it feels like things are falling apart.  It’s okay to feel how you feel but try to keep as much normalcy and faith as you can.  

If you have lost your job or been furloughed due to the reduction of staff or your facility closing temporarily, make sure you know the specifics of the changes.  Your management or HR should be able to provide specifics regarding your health insurance, retirement plans, and PTO and other accrued time.  If you need to apply for unemployment benefits don’t wait until the last minute.  The systems are overwhelmed with millions out of work.  It may be frustrating but review the requirements for your state and take the steps needed.  There will come a time where you will return to your employer or have to seek new employment.  You may want to dust off and update your resume to be prepared.  

Medical Receptionist, Medical Secretaries, and Unit Secretaries have been providing support to their clinical teams not only with phones and registration of patients but also with keeping the office sanitized.  Some places are working with skeleton crews and require all hands on deck to keep up with demand and standards.  Waiting rooms have been cleared of items that could pose more of a risk to patients and families who touch them.  Hand sanitizer and masks are more widely required and being used to help reduce the chance of spread.  Your actions and dedication are needed to keep healthcare facilities functioning in an organized manner, you help facilitate the communication between patients and providers and providers and other specialists in a timely fashion.  

We are all in this together.  Support one another at work and at home. Follow the guidelines to keep you and your family safe. 

Resources

Unemployment:

https://www.usa.gov/unemployment

http://www.statelocalgov.net/50states-unemployment.cfm

Coronavirus Updates:

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/hcp/index.html

https://www.ama-assn.org/

https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019

Stress:

https://www.headspace.com/covid-19

https://bit.ly/34b2iTL 

For more from Medical Receptionist Network visit www.medicalreceptionistnetwork.com

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

Do You Know All You Need to Know About Your Medical Practice?

Once you hear the words “your hired” the excitement sets in.  You are ready to learn and get started with training.  At most, you learn about your employer through their website, information from the interview, or someone you know who may work there.  But how much information are you actually getting? Is it enough?

Once you have trained and learned the requirements of your position you are able to provide support to your patients and coworkers.  That is the goal, knowing what to do and how to do it. Great, but how can you further connect with your patient population? There are many ways that people connect with others through their healthcare journey.  

Let’s discuss what you should know about your practice to better serve your patients.  You must understand the span of services that are offered to understand the population you will encounter daily.  Understading the services and what they require of the patient will aide in areas including scheduling, addressing call volume, and at check out.  Understanding the age groups you serve will also help determine some of your most common challenges and best solutions. It is also important to understand if there is a high volume of outside referrals coming in or if your patients are often referred out.  You will then be able to address requests confidently because it is an expected need of your patients.  Depending on the area you are in you can also determine how people most travel to appointments at your location, major highways, public transportation, or walk. All these things just improve how you interact with people as a member of the front desk. Can you give general directions or the closest bus stop?   Do you know the top insurances your office accepts? You should eventually know the majority payors for your facility without looking them up.  The more knowledgeable and comfortable you are in the space of your practice the better you will be able to support your patient population and build a trusting relationship between them and your office.  

You also need to know the information that will help you better communicate with your providers on a daily basis. Understanding what they have to accomplish between each patient is a start.  This way you can gauge the best times to ask questions or have provider requests addressed.  You need to know when an interuption is warranted and what can wait.  Do they have office hours for consults or returning patient calls that differ from there general schedule? This will also help you better guide your patients who have physician specific questions.  You want to have as much knowledge of the inner workings of your office so you can work within them to produce the best outcomes and be efficient.  Depending on the type of medical office you are a part of you may also apply this to your nursing and management team.  Know the best time to communicate and which issue are a priority and what can be addressed later or at the end of the day.    

Lastly, you want your process to be respected as well.  If you are working directly with a patient in the office or on the phone and recieve constatnt interuptions that are not a high priority. Make sure you share the best way for other members of the office to communicate with you when you are with a patient or working on a project.  Perhaps you create a front desk resource for the other people in your practice to allow more cohesive interactions. There are several ways to communicate in an office setting.  Dont be afraid to use them.  

For more from Medical Receptionist Network visit www.medicalreceptionistnetwork.com

Interested in Medical Receptionist Success Training Course for your office? Visit our website or email info@medicalreceptionistnetwork.com

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