Receptionists are the unsung heroes of General Practice
Receptionists play a key role in maintaining efficiency and productivity in the practice. They are also the front-line in maintaining patient relationships. As initiatives are being rolled out to support practices to ‘work at scale’, receptionists are being asking for more and more out of the team and the learning curve in constantly increasing. This is tough for them and for people managing them.
GPs and practice managers must understand how their receptionists’ roles have evolved, provide appropriate support and training rather than relying on their existing knowledge and skills.
You must not only consider the implications of changing general practice, but also those of changing behaviours of our patient population. Daily challenges faced by receptionists must be acknowledged, and they should feel reassured and be able to escalate any concerns.
By implementing the right systems, processes and training, practices can mitigate high staff turnover, patient complaints, DNA’s and even medicolegal risks – even in the most challenging environments.
Primary Care Navigators direct patients at the first point of contact to the most appropriate source of help. Web and app-based portals can provide self-help and self-management resources as well as signposting to the most appropriate professional. Receptionists acting as care navigators can ensure the patient is booked with the right person first time. this is an enhancement to normal good customer service. It requires the Care Navigator to be skilled and confident in sensitively ascertaining the nature of the patient’s need and exploring with them safe and appropriate options. These options will usually include sources of advice and support outside the practice as well as within.
Last year in Buckinghamshire over 80 non-clinical practice staff attended primary care navigation training. Themes of the training included helping patients to help themselves, promoting self-care and finding the right sort of support/services or help to meet individual needs. Some practices now have designated primary care navigator appointments, whilst others are using the skills to opportunistically sign post patients to areas of non-clinical support.
Benefits for practices: This innovation frees up GP time, releasing demand for GP consultations in most practices. It makes more appropriate use of each team member’s skills and increases job satisfaction for receptionists.
Benefits for patients: It is easier for patients to get an appointment with the GP when they need it, and shortens the wait to get the right help