Front desk receptionists are great assets for any dental practice. They are the first point of contact for patients and play a vital role in keeping the office organized and running smoothly. They allow dentists to spend their time using their expertise, not doing menial data entry or answering phone calls.
When hiring a front desk dental receptionist, it is crucial to find someone who is not only friendly and personable but also organized and detail-oriented. Here's a detailed guide on how to find the best dental front desk receptionists for your practice.
What is a front desk dental receptionist?
A dental front desk receptionist is responsible for greeting patients, scheduling appointments, answering phone calls, and performing other administrative tasks in a dental office. They are the first point of contact for patients, so they must be friendly and helpful.
The receptionist may also be responsible for collecting payments from patients, which means they must be comfortable discussing money matters.
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Responsibilities of a front desk dental receptionist
A front desk dental receptionist has the following responsibilities:
- Welcoming Patients: Since the dental office front desk is often the first point of contact, it is the responsibility of the front desk dental receptionist to make each patient feel welcome. It may include a warm smile, maintaining eye contact, and guiding patients on what to do next.
- Answering Phones: The dental office telephone is often the lifeline between the practice and its patients. As such, the front desk dental receptionist must answer dental practice questions, schedule appointments, and take necessary messages.
- Scheduling Appointments: One of the most important responsibilities of the front desk dental receptionist is scheduling appointments. For this, they should be familiar with the practitioner's schedules and be able to work around the patients' availability.
- Maintaining Records: Another key responsibility of the front desk dental receptionist is maintaining accurate patient records, such as demographic information, treatment history, and insurance information. Nowadays, most recordkeeping is electronic, although some paper records may still be involved.
- Billing and Insurance: Many front desk dental receptionists are responsible for billing and insurance tasks. For example, they may need to verify insurance benefits, file insurance claims, and process patient payments. These tasks often require knowledge of dental coding and office policies.
- Collecting Payments: Besides setting up patient appointments, front desk receptionists also have to collect payments.
Skills needed to be a front desk dental receptionist
A successful front desk dental receptionist should have the following skills:
- Friendly and helpful personality: Since a dental front desk coordinator has to deal with patients, it is essential to have a friendly and helpful nature. Patients are typically anxious about visiting the dentist, and a warm and welcoming receptionist can help put them at ease.
- Excellent communication skills: Communication is key in a receptionist role. A successful receptionist will be able to effectively communicate with patients, dentists, and other staff members.
- Detail-oriented: A dental receptionist must be detail-oriented to keep track of appointments, patient records, and payments.
- Ability to multitask: Front desk receptionists often provide business assistance through multiple tasks simultaneously. Thus, the ability to multitask is essential in this role. For example, they may have to handle phone calls, deal with patients in the waiting room, and file patient records simultaneously.
- Basic math skills: If you want your dental front desk receptionist to collect payments or reconcile patient accounts, they'll need basic math skills.
- Technical skills: Some technical skills that make a dental receptionist competent are being able to use computers, dental software, and various office equipment.
Remember that a candidate may not have all of the skills listed above. Therefore, you should prioritize the most important skills for your practice.
For instance, if you have a small practice, you might be able to compromise on a candidate's inability to multitask. However, if you want the receptionist to handle payments, there's no way you can hire someone who doesn't have basic math skills.
How much do you have to pay a front desk dental receptionist?
According to Glassdoor, front desk dental receptionists earn an average of $47,399 annually. They can make a maximum of up to $91,000 per year. Senior receptionists can make up to $47,670 per year, while lead receptionists can make $51,253 per year.
The salary for dental front desk receptionists differ based on the following factors:
Company of employment
Front desk receptionists at small dental practices earn less than those employed by larger organizations. Since smaller or single-practitioner practices tend to be less busy, front desk receptionists may have more downtime too.
Similarly, dental receptionists at HealthPartners, American Dental, and Gentle Family Dentistry also earn $20 per hour, higher than most other dental practices.
Wages typically tend to be higher in cities with a higher cost of living. For instance, a front desk dental receptionist in New York City will likely earn more than one in a smaller town in Missouri.
Most receptionists have a high school diploma or equivalent, but some employers may prefer candidates with postsecondary education, such as an Associate’s degree in business administration or a related field.
Dental front desk receptionists with additional certifications tend to get paid more.
As with most jobs, experience can lead to higher earnings. A receptionist with several years of experience typically earns more than an entry-level receptionist.
According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, the highest number of receptionists (47%) are employed in the healthcare and social assistance sectors.
To learn more about how Hello Rache can help your medical/veterinary/dental practice save time and money with qualified virtual assistants, book a call with our team.
What to look for in a front desk dental receptionist
When looking for a front desk receptionist for your dental practice, you should look for a few things.
If a candidate has worked in a dental office before, that's a good sign. They will know the duties required and may require less training. They may have some degree of dental experience, which means they’ll be familiar with dental terminology.
Depending on the norm in your dental practice, your front desk receptionist may have to take care of scheduling, patient files, and other information. Therefore, they must be HIPAA compliant and understand how to keep patient information confidential.
HIPAA compliance is mandatory to prevent compliance risks. If your practice is found to violate HIPAA, you could face heavy fines.
Excellent customer service skills
Your front desk receptionist will be the first person patients see when they come into your office. Therefore, they must have excellent customer service skills so that your customers feel welcome.
It's best to look for someone who is friendly and has good communication skills. Some good customer service skills are:
- Patience: Patients can often get angry or upset, and it is the receptionist's job to remain calm in these situations. They should not let the situation escalate or affect other people in the clinic.
- Empathy: It is essential to understand how the customer feels and why they feel that way. Empathy is of the utmost importance in healthcare since customers are often stressed out or in pain.
- Excellent communication: The receptionist is often the first person the customer interacts with, so they must have excellent communication skills. They should be able to understand the customer and relay information clearly.
- Problem solving: There will inevitably be various problems, whether with the scheduling or something the patient is not happy with. The receptionist should be able to find a resolution quickly and efficiently.
- Friendliness: A warm and friendly demeanor can go a long way in making the patient feel comfortable and cared for.
Front desk dental receptionists should have some degree of proficiency with dental software to manage patient records, schedule appointments, and perform other basic office tasks.
While most of this can be learned on the job, some knowledge of EMR/EHR systems is generally required since EMR/EHR usage is forecasted to increase significantly in the next five years.
How to interview a dental front desk receptionist for recruitment
Once you have compiled a list of potential candidates for the dental front desk receptionist position, it is time to start scheduling interviews. Before the interview, you will want to make a list of questions to help you determine if the candidate is a good fit for your dental practice.
Some questions you may want to ask during the interview process include:
- What EMR/EHR systems are you familiar with?
It's important to establish this beforehand because you need to know if they will be able to adapt to your office's system. If not, you may have to provide additional training.
- Have you ever worked with patient tracking software?
Patient tracking software is a program that helps keep track of patients' appointments, payments, and other important information. You need to know if the candidate is familiar with such software and if they will be able to use it in your office.
- What is your experience level with handling dental insurance?
If your front desk receptionist is handling dental insurance, you need to know what their level of experience is.
- What methods do you find to be effective when communicating with patients?
You can also give them a hypothetical scenario and ask them how they will handle it. Their response will help you gauge whether the candidate can handle tricky situations.
- Do you know about HIPAA guidelines, such as HIPAA-compliant texting?
HIPAA-compliant texting is necessary for healthcare providers to communicate with patients and maintain compliance with federal regulations. Your front desk dental receptionist should understand the HIPAA Privacy Rule and how it applies to texting.
- When are you available to work?
Ideally, the candidate should be available to work all hours your practice is open.
Benefits of hiring a virtual dental front desk receptionist
Nowadays, virtual dental front desk receptionists are becoming more popular in the dental industry. A virtual front desk dental receptionist can help:
- Save money on office space and equipment: Since you won't need to provide physical office space or equipment for your virtual dental front desk receptionist, you can save money on these expenses.
- Offer flexible hours: A virtual dental front desk receptionist can offer more flexible hours than an in-office receptionist since they can work from home. Therefore, your office can be open for longer hours, freeing up your time to focus on other aspects of your dental practice.
- Help with marketing: A virtual dental front desk receptionist can also help you market your dental practice through social media and other channels.
- Ensure smooth operations: The major benefit of hiring a virtual dental front desk receptionist is that they can help ensure smooth operations in your dental practice as they can handle all the administrative tasks related to running a dental practice, such as scheduling appointments, handling customer inquiries, and processing payments.
However, you'll only be able to reap these benefits if you take your time to find a reliable and reputable virtual dental front desk receptionist. Make sure to do your research and read reviews before hiring anyone.
Hire a virtual dental front desk receptionist
Getting a virtual front desk dental receptionist on board allows you to help patients with their dental needs in a more streamlined and efficient way. A receptionist can schedule appointments and provide customer service support so that you can focus on providing quality dental care.
If you hire an in-office receptionist, you’ll have to pay the overhead cost of extra space and utilities. Meanwhile, a virtual dental front desk receptionist can save these additional costs while providing the same level of professionalism and functionality.