Survey Confirms the Importance of the Receptionist on the Overall Patient Experience

The receptionist is where the patient experience starts, and if it is not up to par, your new patients may reconsider their plans for choosing you as their healthcare provider.

Online PR News – 03-March-2010 – – When calling a medical practice, being put on hold is often inescapable but most patients cringe when hearing the phrase, “just a minute” from the receptionists, when they don’t have the answer to a question they should undoubtedly know. With healthcare consumerism here to stay, it is essential for receptionists to be on their game to best represent your practice. The receptionist is where the patient experience starts, and if it is not up to par, your new patients may reconsider their plans for choosing you as their healthcare provider.

In a survey of 300 new patient calls to various outpatient medical practices, callers found that receptionists that answer the phone were often unprepared to answer simple questions related to the practice an over 50 percent of the receptionists answering the calls couldn’t even provide information about the practices services, even though they were clearly stated in the organizations brochures and on the website. Jamie Verkamp, Director of Growth & Development at (e)Merge notes, “The receptionist’s job is one of the hardest in the medical office and while most intend to do well they lack the training and support they need to stay fresh and adequately handle the important patient questions all day.”

It’s important that the receptionists are trained not only in customer service, but also in phone operations for smooth transitions throughout your office as it’s been shown that 75 percent of people who abandon calls do not call back. That means if one of your potential patients has been disconnected or left on hold for an extended amount of time they probably won’t attempt to connect with you again. “If you as a physician or practice manager are providing superior service but the person answering the phones or the person checking in patients is lacking then those things completely overshadow and negate the superior service provided by the physician,” argues Jonathan Whistman, Director of Business Strategy at (e)Merge.

What are some steps for improvement? For many practices, the choice to implement mystery shopping and staff training programs is the right fit. The medical mystery shopping programs designed by (e)Merge is designed uses trained secret patients to call and visit the practice, interacting with the staff, and providing the practice with their valuable feedback on areas of excellence and areas that need improvement. This feedback is provided from the patient's perspective, which is very important when identifying areas of opportunity for differentiation from the competition. With this feedback, adequate staff training programs can be activated to keep the practice up to speed in maintaining their presence in this ever increasing healthcare consumerism mindset.

(e)Merge is a medical practice growth consulting firm specializing in providing innovative, patient-centric marketing initiatives and medical mystery shopping services that enhance patient experiences to increase referrals. Our programs are designed to strategically achieve sustained patient volume growth for medical practices and health organizations. For more information, please contact us toll free at 1.877.362.6584, visit us at, or follow us on Twitter at

Contact Information
Jamie Verkamp
410 West 8th St
Kansas City MO, 64105