EP297: How the Front Desk Can Make or Break Patient Trust and, Potentially, Outcomes, With Jerry Durham From The Client Experience Company

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By stacey richter and Stacey Richter. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

Here’s something I never really understood: how physicians and nurses more often than not get to be responsible for the entire patient journey, including, start to finish, patient satisfaction. But if you just take one look at any random poorly rated physician’s reviews, they’re usually littered with complaints about the front desk in the practice. Negative reviews, of course, are not limited to front desk diatribes; but there’s often a lot of front desk commentary in them.

It has always seemed to me to be a common and strange phenomenon in health care provider practices where the front desk is like a totally separate little fiefdom with a different mission statement and goals from the health care providers in the same exact office. Isn’t that odd when you think about it? I mean, first, the front desk is literally physically separated from everybody else. No matter which direction you approach from, there’s at a minimum a half-wall barrier surrounding them. Sometimes, in directions most likely to receive an attack, I suppose, there’s been added a big glass barrier.

Liliana Petrova pointed this out in EP236 of the Relentless Health Value podcast, and it was really the first time that I had thought about it at all and also thought about the implicit message this sends not only to patients but also to clinicians. That whole physicality of the setup, it just screams, “We over here have nothing to do with the mission or vision of anyone else in this place. We have our own thing going on over here, and to do it, we need to be protected from you all and all of your chicanery and untoward goings-on, you doctors and nurses and patients!”

I was really inspired the first time I heard Jerry Durham from The Client Experience Company talking. His message, as I understood it, was that a practice really on board with helping patients achieve the best patient outcomes and, nothing for nothing, erode clinician burnout includes the front desk in their thinking. Jerry has said that there’s four phases in the patient life cycle, as he calls it, which is sort of a synonym for the patient journey:

  1. Marketing
  2. The moment that a patient/person engages with the clinic or office
  3. Provider interactions
  4. The post course of care

So, all of these phases—all four of them—are critical to both patient outcomes and experience but also, really, to business success. So, you kind of almost have to do well by doing good. The front desk is mostly responsible for that phase two: what happens when that person/patient engages with your office or clinic.

In this health care podcast, as mentioned, I’m talking with Jerry Durham. He’s a former physical therapist and practice owner who has worked with a whole lot of PT (physical therapy) practices and also other MSK (musculoskeletal) specialties among other clients. His message transcends the specialty, however.

In this health care podcast, we get into a lot of aspects in terms of how a front desk can work for or against patient experience and outcomes. One of them is how a front desk can help secure a patient’s relationship with a practice. Trust follows from a relationship. Lately, maybe even earlier than lately, study after study is coming out—including some that Rebecca Etz, PhD, talks about in EP295—which shows that, without a relationship and trust, patient outcomes are meh at best. (You can always count on me for scientific terminology.) But a lack of trust is a big hairy factor behind disparities in outcomes among different ethnic groups, for example, as one point to ponder.

You can learn more at clientexperiencecompany.com or by emailing Jerry at jerry@jerrydurhampt.com.

Jerry Durham is a physical therapist with over 25 years of experience and 20+ years of business ownership. Jerry’s singular passion is leveraging the entire practice team toward improved patient outcomes while boosting the practice bottom line. Jerry has spent significant time on the front line, answering patient calls and learning why patients think and act the way they do when interacting with the front desk. Jerry now leads The Client Experience Company, focused on improving both client outcomes and practice profitability through the leveraging of the patient life cycle by the front desk.

04:31 What is the patient life cycle?

05:33 What are the milestones of the patient life cycle? When does it start?

08:51 “This isn’t a business solution; this is a patient-driven solution.”

09:08 “What is best for the patient is best for business.”

12:45 “The takeaway there is that your team members are all driving toward the same goal.”

13:54 How does the front desk impact health outcomes?

16:00 What is the objective of a front desk to reduce provider burden?

20:38 “There’s actually three roles at the front desk.”

29:57 EP228 with Julie Rish, PhD, from the Cleveland Clinic.

You can learn more at clientexperiencecompany.com or by emailing Jerry at jerry@jerrydurhampt.com.

@Jerry_DurhamPT discusses #patienttrust and #healthoutcomes in this week’s #healthcarepodcast. #healthcare #podcast #digitalhealth #healthtech

What is the patient life cycle? @Jerry_DurhamPT discusses #patienttrust and #healthoutcomes in this week’s #healthcarepodcast. #healthcare #podcast #digitalhealth #healthtech

“This isn’t a business solution; this is a patient-driven solution.” @Jerry_DurhamPT discusses #patienttrust and #healthoutcomes in this week’s #healthcarepodcast. #healthcare #podcast #digitalhealth #healthtech

“What is best for the patient is best for business.” @Jerry_DurhamPT discusses #patienttrust and #healthoutcomes in this week’s #healthcarepodcast. #healthcare #podcast #digitalhealth #healthtech

“The takeaway there is that your team members are all driving toward the same goal.” @Jerry_DurhamPT discusses #patienttrust and #healthoutcomes in this week’s #healthcarepodcast. #healthcare #podcast #digitalhealth #healthtech

How does the front desk impact health outcomes? @Jerry_DurhamPT discusses #patienttrust and #healthoutcomes in this week’s #healthcarepodcast. #healthcare #podcast #digitalhealth #healthtech

“There’s actually three roles at the front desk.” @Jerry_DurhamPT discusses #patienttrust and #healthoutcomes in this week’s #healthcarepodcast. #healthcare #podcast #digitalhealth #healthtech

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