It is trendy to talk about moving away from “old fashioned” GP receptionists towards call centres or even computerised phone systems and apps.
Economies of scale and the efficiencies of not having staff idle between calls seem to support this industrialisation of Primary Care.
24-hour call centres promise better access and allow staff to be interchangeable or even out-sourced which, we are told, has to be a good thing.
But Call Centre Staff do not know our patients personally
Receptionists who know their patients can respond to them as individuals. Patients appreciate this care and treat receptionists better, building mutual trust.
Local Reception Staff can get to know the clinicians they look after and learn how they can support them in caring for patients.
Staff who care about their patients personally perform better and enjoy their jobs more.
So how do we afford a great local reception team?
Doing things right first time saves costs for the team as a whole. Investing in expert Receptionists may seem expensive but they release clinicians and senior staff to concentrate on the things only they can do.
Training Front Desk Staff to do admin tasks in between talking to patients makes their jobs more interesting and saves costs in the admin team. If admin problems can be solved without needing other team members then patients will get solutions faster.
Improving Receptionist job satisfaction helps retain staff thus saving the huge extra cost of recruiting and training new staff.
Allowing staff to customise their jobs to make use of their individual talents helps them to enjoy their jobs more while also contributing more.
We want local surgeries to have great local reception teams
There is some self interest in this. We believe in the model of building a team of committed happy responsive capable Reception Staff who know our patients and clinicians. The more local surgeries that support this model, the more we can collaborate for training and sharing ideas.
We are not perfect and have had our share of problems with recruitment and retention. However, we have found that by concentrating on commitment and continuity, staff morale and stability have significantly improved.
How you treat your Receptionists shows who you really are