Having Front Office Issues? Dee Bills Has The Answers: An Interview With The Front Office Guru

PTO 31 | Front Office

Dee Bills, PT, spent a year perfecting her clinic’s front office procedures and now has it down to a science. Dee found Front Office Guru in 2016 and now specifically trains front offices to optimize the patient experience, the arrival rates, and, thus, the collections at the front desk. In doing so, she has been able to turn around clinics that were severely under-performing to eventually achieving more than 95% arrival rates week over week. Dee has systematized her processes and is willing to share some of them in today’s episode.

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Having Front Office Issues? Dee Bills Has The Answers: An Interview With The Front Office Guru

We all know how important the role that the front desk plays in our clinics. In fact, we know that the front desk can have a significant positive and negative impact on our clinic’s efficiency, patient experience, revenues, and arrival rate percentages. No matter what kind of physical therapy we provide, good or bad, the front office can many times dictate the experience that the patients have and the revenues of our clinic. I decided to bring on Dee Bills, the Owner of Front Office GURU to talk about some of the things that she recommends that we do to make sure that we have a well-run front office team.

Dee has been a physical therapist for over twenty years. In 2004, her husband achieved his career-long dream of owning an outpatient physical therapy practice. In 2011, they recognized that significant changes were happening in healthcare in general, declining reimbursements being one of them. They decided to get a business consultant. I’ll let her share the story as to what eventually led her to really focus on the front office, but over really perfecting and systematizing their front office procedures, she recognized that they got results of over 95% arrival rate, which is amazing. In 2016, Dee realized that she wanted to help others also obtain the same success and founded Front Office GURU. She offers front office training programs in practices across the United States and Canada. I for one am really excited to have her come on and share some of her secrets as to what it takes to have a well-run and efficient front office team.

One thing she mentioned was, “We get what we train.” That can be applied to every position that we have on our team. Specifically, I know Dee trains her front office staff for over twelve, fifteen weeks I believe. From past experiences, I think that’s about eleven to fourteen weeks longer than I train my front office teams. If we really want to make a significant impact on our practice, we really have to focus on our front office teams because they can be the face of our clinic no matter what kind of physical therapy we provide. Let’s see what Dee has to offer and what she recommends we do to improve our front office teams.

I have Dee Bills, a physical therapist out of Virginia, the Owner of Front Office GURU, who has made it her mission and focus on the front office and we are going to talk about that. Thanks for joining me, Dee.

Thank you, Nathan. I’m excited to be here.

Thanks for helping us focus a little bit more on the front office. We spent a lot of time focusing on management styles and owning your practice. One of the greatest effects that any of our team members can have is at the front office. Do you mind sharing a little bit of your story, where you came from and what got you to the point where you are now?

I was a physical therapist for under twenty years when my husband had recently purchased our PT practice and he was running it. One of the big things we noticed was that insurance was decreasing and declining reimbursement. We had a ton of decrease in referrals from doctors because they all had their own PT practices. We knew that if we didn’t do something, we weren’t going to really be there anymore. We weren’t going to survive at the level we wanted to. I came away from treating patients and started working in the practice. We happened to get some consulting ourselves and the practice started to expand and we went to this financial course. The gentleman that ran the course was talking about finding areas of inefficiency in your practice. It was something that really hit me. As I started to evaluate things, I was watching us bleed money from our front desk.

I took over the front end of our practice. I worked side by side with my front desk staff. I started to learn what worked well with patients and what didn’t get the result we were looking. The things that they were saying that really weren’t getting good results. It was very evident that we were bleeding money with patient arrivals. We weren’t capturing patients like we could. We weren’t collecting what we should. I started to write policy in our practice and put in measures that worked. Lo and behold, our arrivals went to 95% every week. We are capturing 90% to 95% of the patients that we’re calling in for evals. We started to have a great machine on the frontend.

You don't want to waste a month on somebody who isn't willing to do what you need them to do. Click To Tweet

You said you were bleeding at the front desk. Was it simply that maybe they weren’t collecting copays, they weren’t following up with patients to make sure they were following their plan of care? Is it those types of things that you’re talking about when you say bleeding at the front desk?

Yes, we were bleeding visits. A patient would call and say, “I’m not going to able to make it now.” My front office would say, “No problem. We’ll see you on your next visit.” What ended up happening was, “We need to get them in. We need to handle them.” One of the big things I hear a lot is, “Can you tell me your hours?” The front office will immediately jump to tell somebody their hours. What ends up happening is there’s this dead air and the front office says, “Is there anything else I can help you with?” The person will go, “No,” and then we’ve lost a new patient. That was a big thing for me. I was in another group online and there were a lot of people that were asking me, “How do you do that? How do you get 95% arrivals? How do you get your evals to show up?” I was helping a lot of people. I realized that my practice didn’t need me as much anymore as it used to. It’s running really well. I missed helping people. I wasn’t treating anymore. That’s how Front Office GURU was born. I decided to start helping owners have the same success that we were having.

As you were doing this and with the successes that you had, did you find that simply implementing the processes made a major difference? Did find that you had to find different people and train them appropriately?

It’s a little bit of all of that. It comes down to having the right person in place, having set processes and systems that work and get results. The third thing is training your staff and putting that effort into making sure your front office staff is as skilled as your clinical staff would be in their duties.

As you went through implementing some of these systems, processes and training people, that was probably a good way for you to filter out who was going to stay on the bus and who you need to kick off?

PTO 31 | Front Office
Front Office: It is really important to not be agreeable to someone who’s not on board with you.

We still go through that now. That’s really important to not be agreeable to someone who’s not on board with you. It’s being able to handle that employee well and setting parameters. We were just talking about that in our clinic about you set a parameter, they have to do this within two weeks. If they don’t, it’s time to go because you don’t want to waste a month on somebody who isn’t willing to do what you need them to do.

Is there a way that can filter out those people ahead of time? Are there certain personality types? Is there a part in your interview process that lets you know if that front office person is going to work with you or not?

One of my biggest pieces of advice is to have a system that works for you and not alter it. We are really big on testing from day one. The testing comes from us. We don’t pay for online testing any longer. You have to know what you’re looking for. If you don’t know what you’re looking for, it’s hard to find them. You’ve got to lay that out. It’s one of those things that we forget. If you don’t write down what you’re looking for, it’s a lot harder to find it. You don’t have the same certainty, but when you write it down, you now have the certainty of what you’re looking for. What’s your ideal employee look like? It’s just like we all know what our ideal patient looks like. What is our ideal front office employee look like? Do they have previous training or don’t they? Are they good at sales? Are they friendly but at the same time can they manage people? Once you know that, then you have more certainty about what you’re looking for when you’re interviewing people. The biggest piece of advice is to test them. Put little challenges everywhere and if they can’t follow challenges in writing, it’s very likely that they’re not going to be able to handle a verbal challenge.

I was a neuro PT for a long time and we talk about single-step and multiple-step commands. Your employee is the same thing. If your employees can’t follow a single-step command, they’re not going to be able to follow multiple-step commands. Our whole day is multiple-step commands, “I need you to do this and then I need you to do this.” If they can’t do it in writing, they’re definitely not going to verbally pick up what you want. We put challenges in everything we do in our hiring process, even our PTs but our front office especially. They don’t have the same previous training and skillset. The PTs go through five, six years of schooling to get where they are. Your front office hasn’t necessarily done that. A lot of them fall into the job that they ended up by happenstance. They don’t go, “I’m going to do that forever.” It’s a big thing to look for throughout your process.

Going back to looking for that ideal person, it hit me while I was at PPS. Brian Hart has mentioned how we oftentimes put out an ad and list the basic minimum requirements, “Can you breathe and answer a phone? Can you type at least fifteen words a minute? If you can meet these criteria, then you’re qualified for our job.” Instead of saying, “We’ve got high standards and these are the standards. Number one, here are our values and our mission. This is our purpose. You’re going to be expected to handle a ton of calls. You’re going to handle a ton of patient complaints. You’re going to be asking for money when people don’t want to give it to you.” Instead of really laying out what our ideal candidate would look like or ideal employee is, we instead list the basic minimum requirements and put it out on Craigslist and then we’re disappointed with the replies that we get.

Have a system that works for you and don't alter it. Click To Tweet

Years ago when I started helping Mike in that position, I went through eight employees in a year and I was like, “Enough, this is insanity.” It was the hiring process. I posted an ad, I get 150 resumes for the position and then I’d be upset when I was wasting all this time trying to hire the right person. We have a set of challenges that we put out there in the ad. If they don’t follow those criteria, we don’t even respond to them. We’ll have lots of them call and be like, “I didn’t hear from you.” Our front office is trained to say, “If you haven’t heard from us, it means that you probably didn’t follow some part of our process and we wish you the best in your job search.”

You’ll put a challenge in the ad itself?

Yes. Why waste my time? I don’t want to read 150 resumes. I want to look for, “Did you send me a cover letter? No, okay you’re done.” There are just simple things you can do. I was just working with the young lady that’s taken that over for me in the practice. The more discerning you are in what you’re looking for, the more you challenge them, the more likely you’re going to weed out all of the people that are just looking for a job versus, “I want to work somewhere and make a difference.” That’s something really important.

Another thing because this really applies and it’s important, they are not your front desk, they are not your front office, they are your patient care coordinator. It applies to what you were just saying about collecting money, managing the schedule. They are not a medical receptionist. You get what you title them. It’s really important to give them the title of patient care coordinator so they understand that their job is to coordinate the patient’s care. It’s not your PT’s job. Your PT provides the care but your frontend, your patient care coordinators, they coordinate care. It makes a big difference. I’ve worked with PTs and vets and it makes a huge difference what you call them because they focus on the wrong thing. If you call them a front desk they think, “I’m just here to answer the phone.” Answering the phone is such a minute part of what they really do. That’s a big part of it. That’s something to look at if that’s not what you’re doing in your practice.

We were talking about it before that it’s such a huge part of the business. If there’s a disconnect between the physical therapist, the owner, whoever’s working at the front desk and coordinating patient care, there’s a ton of money that can be lost. That lends to a bad reputation, if patients aren’t getting better or if they’re not happy with the collections processes. “I wasn’t told this is what I had to do beforehand.” A lot of that can look bad on your clinic in spite of how good your physical therapy is.

PTO 31 | Front Office
Front Office: The very first contact could be the very last contact.

They’re first and last point of contact that any patient will ever have with your practice. The very first contact could be the very last contact if they don’t handle that patient properly. Especially for smaller practices, for owners that are treating all of the time, they don’t get the opportunity to hear what’s being said, what’s not being said, how it’s going. Before they ever see that patient, they could lose that opportunity. That’s where I focus the most on is lost opportunities and how to prevent them, how to script things the right way so that the front office has that ability to handle patients, to coordinate a patient’s care so that the PT can provide it and not worry if the patient’s showing up or not or if they’re scheduled or not. That’s not in their job duty, believe it or not.

What do you tell the owner practitioner, maybe he has a little bit of support staff and he’s got a front desk person that he is not totally happy with? What’s your first recommendation to them? Is it to focus on your processes and showing them up or go back and find a better person who has got a little bit more fire in the belly?

In one of my blogs, I talk about the willing and able employee. The ideal employee in your practice is somebody who’s both willing and able to do the job that they’re hired for. There are two parts to ability. I have the ability. I can do the math, I can handle people. There’s the ability that we provide them. This is a big one and this I see a lot. We hire people who say, “I have experience.” We put them on the post and we don’t train them in our expectations. We don’t make sure that they can handle the objections and they’re not scripted. We assumed that because they have experience from somewhere else that they can do that. We get what we train. The first thing I recommend for owners is to listen. First of all, you have to listen and hear what they’re saying so you know where they’re out, meaning they’re not following what you would want them to do or able to do that. You want to train them.

Just like with a patient, if a patient cancels the first time, I assume that we did not handle them properly and train them on our policy. It’s the same for an employee. If an employee messes up or isn’t doing things, you have to go back and look at your policy first, to make sure that you have sorted out your training processes, that you retrain them. We retrain once. If I retrain you on something once and you can’t do it, then we sit down with them and we really have a conversation, “Do you see yourself lasting here? Are you invested in this? What are your goals?” My husband is amazing at being able to sit down with an employee and run this with them. They’ll usually say, “I don’t want to be here,” or they’ll say, “I’ll do whatever it takes.”

The next thing I would say is after looking at your training, lay out your expectations for the position. A PT knows exactly what they need to do. See the patient, treat the patient, and help the patient. The front office has a very extensive list. One of the things I learned when I started working in my front office is, we as PTs really didn’t learn what it takes to run our front office when we were in school. When we hire people, we have a tendency to hire people thinking that they’re either going to know how to do it or their experience will help us. A big part of that is laying out what you expect of them. If you don’t lay out your expectations, you end up getting what you get, which is somebody who isn’t necessarily directed the way you want to go.

If you don't know what you're looking for, it's hard to find them. Click To Tweet

I hear that often from owners and managers that they’re not doing it. I say, “Tell me what their job duties and expectations are.” A lot of times they’re not very specific themselves and that breeds exactly what they’re getting, which is an employee who’s like, “I’m just doing what I got to do.” If you ask your front office what their job duties are, they will tell you that it’s answering the phones, faxing, filing, scheduling patients. They won’t say to you, “My duties are coordinating the patient’s care to make sure they get in for care and that they understand that we’re here to help them.” It’s a huge eyeopener.

They’ll usually list off a bunch of duties that they do in order to complete their tasks. That’s how they’ll define themselves instead of looking bigger picture and saying, “My job is to coordinate the patients care so that they achieve their physical goals and make sure our company has collected everything that is due financially on our end as well.” They don’t look at a broader perspective like that. They go down their list of tasks that they needed to perform that day. Their job ends up becoming a checklist instead of really focused on getting the product that they’re there for.

It’s helping them understand their product. A lot of times if you go up to your front office, any of your staff and you ask them what their product is, they don’t necessarily tell you or they get confused. A big thing that I work on with companies, owners and their front office is, “What is the product?” We shifted away from all the fancy words and everything because as an owner, we understand that. Even your clinical staff don’t understand that. We started focusing solely on people helped as the product of the practice. If you look at all the stats that you measure, they actually in each department are a representation of how that department helps people.

When we shifted, we still have valuable final products of our practice. We teach our staff what their valuable final product is as these people helped. When we put our entire staff on it and we showed them how their stats or metrics are equivalent to people helped, they are much more focused on helping people than they are on a number. When they can equate 95% arrivals to, “95% of the patients that I worked with this week understood that they needed to get in for their care. They can’t cancel at the last minute or affect somebody else.” What ends up happening is you see them winning. They look at their stats differently. They’re more driven toward achieving higher. We’ve grown exponentially in 2018 just like we did it years ago. It really was because we hired people that wanted to focus on people helped.

We talked a little bit about and maybe you’ve done some of the research yourself at how that front office person or patient care coordinators, how much money they’ll actually lose the clinic. You might think that the physical therapists aren’t charging enough or maybe they’re not seeing their patients more than two times a week, which has been shown to improve patient care. Have you found how much money can be lost at the front desk if they’re not trained and working properly?

PTO 31 | Front Office
Front Office: Nobody picks up the phone and calls your office to ask a question if they don’t need your help.

A lot of times too we focus on arrival rate. If your arrival rate is not running in the 90s, you’re losing a lot of money every year. On top of arrival rate, if you look at new patients and you look at that new patient phone call, if you called in or had somebody call in, the average front office will get through that phone call. They think they have to get through it quickly but that’s the most important phone call that will ever take place for your practice. Some of the things you’ll hear is, “What are your hours?” The front office will say, “We’re open from 7:00 to 7:00 every day.” There’s this dead space and they say, “Is there anything else I can help you with?” The potential patient will say, “That’s it.” Every now and then they’ll say, “I’m ready to schedule.” Most of the time we’re not handling that shopping around the patient or, “Do you take my insurance?” Instead of converting them right then and there. The thing to remember is anybody who calls your office that is not a current patient should be a patient. Nobody picks up the phone and calls your office to ask a question if they don’t need your help. They may not be ready to confront the fact that they need your help but they need your help. That’s a big part of it.

I started talking to PT owners and veterinary practice owners. They all agreed it was probably on the low side, that the average practice loses probably ten potential new patient visits a week. If you do the math, let’s go with $100 reimbursement, which is a little bit high for the national average, unless you’re in Alaska. The potential loss to your practice for the full plan of care is close to $400,000 to $500,000 a year to a practice. When we started focusing on that, we were able to ramp up our ability to capture that. It’s a big thing I focus on. A lot of times we focus solely on a rivalry, but we forget that we market.

For those of us that are doing a lot of internet marketing, which in our area, all of our doctors have PT practices. Our marketing is either to pass patients to the internet. One of the things that you will find is that they’re a little bit harder to convert. If a patient care coordinator does not know how important that call is and how to really convert patients on that call, you’re losing them before you ever got them. It doesn’t mean they’re not going to try to call back again but usually by then, they are a lot worse. It’s helping them handle that and training them how to handle that will be the most valuable thing to any practice.

You really do some training and even letting these candidates know that they’re going to be essentially salespeople. There’s got to be a part of that within them that says, “I know you’re just asking about hours but you’re not calling me because you really want to know our hours. What you’re really calling me about is what we sound like on the phone. How do we treat people over the phone? What specialties can you sell me on that might help my particular condition?” The front desk can do a lot of that because the physical therapist can’t. Do you do a lot of training on that then? You mentioned that the calls were too short. Do you tell them you need to be on the phone for a certain amount of time or these are the certain questions you should be asking to follow up?

The first thing I teach them is the importance of that call. That call is the number one most important thing. When you rush through that call, you just get my name, my phone number and you give me a time, you’re not helping me to buy in. The most important thing the front office needs to understand is that these people are reaching but they’re not reaching at the same level as somebody who says, “I have a script, I want to come in and I want you to fix my problem.” Those are your ideal patients. Every front office will tell you that’s their dream patient, “Fix me.” They’re easy, they’re nice, they’ll pay whatever, life is good. The average patient is reaching but they’re not ready to reach in. I know you did an interview with Shaun Kirk and he’s a mentor. One of the things he taught us a long time ago, and you’ve probably heard this too from him, is he used to do these evals with his patients. He’d say, “Do you believe you can get better?” If the patient said no, he’d be like, “I’m sorry to hear that.” He would escort them out because they were telling him they didn’t believe you could help them. They don’t even get to your PT if your front office doesn’t handle them.

The more discerning you are in what you're looking for, the more likely you're going to weed out the people that are just looking for a job. Click To Tweet

My new patient program really teaches the front office how to handle patients from day one all the way through a scheduled-out plan of care. It teaches them the right question to ask and how to ask it. I teach them that you don’t answer that question until you’ve asked my questions, until you’ve run them through. I don’t have any way of handling you. If I say, “We’re open from 7:00 to 7:00,” and you’re like, “Thank you so much.” I could say to you, “Would you like an eval at that point?” You could be like, “No.” I teach them how to handle a patient and establish a system that can be used over and over again as the practice expands. We’ve gone from one front office to now we’re getting ready to hire our fifth in our clinic. Our patient care coordinators, they have different levels. That’s important to be able to expand and not have to remember all the things you have to teach them. Make sure that they can literally get on a call with a patient and recognize that this patient needs help. Recognize that, “The patient may not be reaching as hard as I want them to. It’s my job as the patient care coordinator to get that patient reaching harder and acknowledge the fact that life is not going to be good if I don’t fix my problem.”

Have you used a private shopper or someone who has called to assess the capabilities of your front desk in the past? Have you used one on your practice or have you done it for other clients as well?

Yes. It’s actually part of our hiring process. We’ll teach somebody how to handle a patient and then we will either have them call a “patient” or it’s usually one of our staff who’s on a cell phone in another room. They don’t know that though. We’ll have a “patient” call in and have them handle it. We have secret shops. A long time ago when I was running my front office, my mother-in-law called me one day and said, “You need to call the office.” I’m like, “I’m on my way there now.” She goes, “You need to call the office.” I was like, “Okay.” I called the office and recognized that Eeyore was working at my front desk and was like, “Good morning.” I was like, “We’re in so much trouble if I don’t handle this.” I find it’s really good for the owner, “Why don’t we call our practice?” It’s really good for the owners and managers to call your practice from time to time or have a family member do it.

I have called other practices before. Usually what I do is because I work one-on-one with most practices, we get on video conferences once a week. I will drill with them and I will be the patient care coordinator and let them be the patient first and then I will make them be the patient care coordinator and I’m the patient. We’re really working off all the scripts that I’ve provided. It’s a big part in your practice. If you don’t drill with your staff, they won’t ever get better. It doesn’t matter what you hand them to do if you don’t practice it. It’s like PT school, you could not do an anterior move on a shoulder until you had drilled that with your professor 100 times and your partners are like, “That’s a grade four stop.” We all laugh about it. It’s the same for your front office.

Remember, they didn’t go to school for this. They may come from somewhere else. Most of the time, staff come with bad habits they picked up somewhere else. They don’t necessarily come with the experience that you really need in your practice. That’s really important to remember if you want somebody to be successful. Remember a willing and able employee part of the ability is I make sure you’re able. I’m back in my practice, training up a new team member. It’s amazing to see how we drill. She is awkward because it’s like, “I have to play act with you.” I walk out front and I listened to her on a call with a patient. I watched her reviewing policy with the patient or going through something with a new patient. It’s just so much more on point because we took the time to drill it and really make sure she could do it before I said, “You’re set free. Have a great day.”

PTO 31 | Front Office
Front Office: You want to be as discerning as possible with who you hire. If your spidey sense says no, listen to it.

Do you audio or video record and feedback to them to give them pointers?

Yes. Everything is video. They can record all of our calls so that they can take pieces or all of it and train future staff or current staff. I provide all of the drills. If I give you a script, I don’t just give you a script, I provide the drill as well. A lot of times the owners are like, “Okay, great.” When I give a script, I’m very adamant that you shouldn’t change it. I know for a fact it’s tried, true and it’s tried by me. It wasn’t my front office to try this. I worked my front office for six months next to my Eeyore and Eeyore did not improve. He needed to leave and then I work for three more months with two women side by side. That’s where a lot of these systems came from. When things didn’t work or didn’t go well, I went back and change them until they worked. I learned how patients speak. How to speak to somebody to get the result I’m looking for. I can tell you even in our practice when one of those stats goes down, it’s always related to something not being done or said to the expectation that it was trained at.

My staff knows how to go back and fix it versus me having to, “Let’s drill it again.” Usually, I will find them drilling. That’s the goal. Every owner’s goal is to put it in now but not have to keep putting it in over and over again. If you’re constantly having to train and retrain, hire and rehire, give me a call. I don’t want to see it. It’s such a waste of time. I don’t know about you, Nathan, I look at Mike and when he tested drop down into the organization, we all want him back out again. Go be an owner. We don’t want you working down here because things don’t go very well when the owner drops down and gets involved. It’s like, “Go back and be the owner. Dream for me.” That’s a big thing as owners, I don’t want you to keep dropping down into your organization to train and retrain staff.

You’ve reached an ideal scene there. It blows my mind to think that these patient care coordinators know what statistics they’re supposed to provide and report. They also are self-correcting. That blows my mind. Every employer’s dream is to have a team member that knows their stat. When that stat goes down, without talking to you about it or even before you mentioned anything about it, knows what they need to do to go back and train themselves to get their statistic back up. That’s a different world.

It was my dream. It was something that I learned a long time ago and when we received our consulting. Also when I told you I went to that financial course, it was to build a machine that you can walk away from for a month and it runs itself and fixes itself. That hit home so hard for me. Mike and I at the time were working 60, 70 hours a week. That was not an ideal scene. Our kids were like, “You guys are at home and you’re talking about work again.” Now our kids are like, “Did you go to work today?” We’re like, “Yes, we did.” They’re like, “Really?” It’s a different scene for us. Don’t get me wrong, when you have new staff, it is difficult to find quality front office staff. Everybody I’ve talked to is struggling with that and we can say, “The United States has a 3% unemployment rate.” When you look at that in reverse as a business owner, it also means, “I’m scraping the bottom of the barrel unless I get lucky and some amazing person is looking for a job.”

If you don't lay out your expectations, you end up getting what you get. Click To Tweet

You want to be as discerning as possible who you hire. If your Spidey sense says no, listen to it. You have to have challenges in place and challenge them. If you don’t know what to do, call me. I can help you with that too. Even larger practices go through that. I’ve worked with several larger practices and some of them I’ve known forever. We’ve laughed about certain things that might’ve fallen out or we could make better. We put our attention on it and we put some systems in place. The next thing you know, it gets better. It’s when you are always coping that life doesn’t get any better.

When you can finally organize and systematize, things just tend to improve. Dee, thanks for your time. If people do want to reach out to you, how can they get ahold of you?

If you go to my website, FrontOfficeGuru.com, there is a link where you can schedule a free call with me. You can sit down and talk about your front office. I do offer three different programs. One is the hiring and recruiting program for the front office. The other is front office training for both new patient program and patient arrivals, which patient-inpatient program handles everything in a new patient. You can really capture, manage, control that new patient situation. The arrivals program handles everything after that. How to build schedule efficiency? How to increase your arrivals and really manage your patients? This is for the front office, for the patient care coordinators. It’s also for the owner because when you work one-on-one with me, I actually provide you a course pack which becomes your training manual. The purpose of you not having to work with me again, you take away the skills of everything they teach you in so that you could train up an employee in two to three weeks. It doesn’t take us that long. It takes us much longer. It takes us roughly about fourteen or fifteen weeks because you get breaks in there to implement stuff. I give you all the implementation that you need to do. I provide all the training. I work one-on-one with the clinic so that the end result is your stats go up, and you and your team have such a better condition.

The patients are happier when they have a good front office.

Yes, they are.

Thank you much for your time and sharing some of your insight into making our front offices better. It can be such a huge boon to the clinics if they can really get a handle on what needs to happen at the front desk. I really appreciate you sharing.

Thank you so much for having me, Nathan. If you haven’t figured out, I’m very passionate about what I do. I really enjoy working with a private practice, especially physical therapy because it’s near and dear to my heart. The ultimate goal is the survival of private practice owners. I love working with my practices. You become part of the Front Office GURU family basically. It’s important to me just like it was when I worked with patients.

Thanks for sharing. Hopefully, we’ll see more of you in the future and bring you on again sometime.

Thank you so much, Nathan. I wish everybody the best and I hope to hear from some of you.

Take care.

Take care.

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About Dee Bills, PT

PTO 31 | Front Office

I started my career as a physical therapist and spent over 20 years working in patient care. In 2004, my husband Mike achieved his career-long dream of owning an outpatient PT practice. In 2011, we recognized that with the impending changes in healthcare, we wouldn’t survive without making changes and improving our practice efficiency and expanding our reach. We began working with a business consultant and I took over the front end of our practice.

While at a financial course, the speaker talked about building a well-run machine and to look for any inefficiencies that were holding us back. I immediately realized that our front office was bleeding visits, and this was affecting expansion and revenue.

So, I took over management of the front office. Over the next year, I worked at our front desk as a Patient Care Coordinator and learned what it took to properly manage patients. I developed reproducible front office training and systems to increase efficiency, organization, and patient control. During that time, our patient arrivals rose to an average of 95%!

In 2016 I realized I missed helping others, so I founded Front Office GURU to help other practices have similar success to ours and recognized my true purpose. I now offer front office training programs to practices across the US and Canada.

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