What Does a Clinic Receptionist Do?

K. Kinsella

A clinic receptionist is responsible for handling front-of-house customer service or administrative issues at a healthcare facility. Typically, this individual answers phone calls, responds to emails and answers queries from outpatients and other people. Most employers hire a clinic receptionist with prior customer service or secretarial experience although some firms prefer to hire individuals who have some knowledge of medical procedures and terminology.

A client receptionist may be responsible for scheduling appointments.
A client receptionist may be responsible for scheduling appointments.

Clinics are a type of medical facility that normally caters exclusively to outpatients rather than inpatients. The clinic receptionist sits at a desk that is typically located within a short distance of the main entrance. A receptionist’s working hours normally coincide with the hours during which the clinic is open for business although in some instances, he or she may accept phone calls for a period of time before or after the medical practitioners stop seeing patients for the day.

A clinic receptionist must have a thorough understanding of medical terminology.
A clinic receptionist must have a thorough understanding of medical terminology.

Clients who enter the facility are greeted by the clinic receptionist. Some busy facilities employ several to ensure that patients do not have to wait in line to be seen. The receptionist directs patients to the appropriate medical practitioner’s office or sets appointments for subsequent visits. At some offices, they are responsible for providing patients with written prescriptions and are often tasked with collecting payments from patients and invoicing insurance carriers.

Clinic receptionists are usually tasked with setting up appointments for patients.
Clinic receptionists are usually tasked with setting up appointments for patients.

Aside from providing customer service, a clinic receptionist must also liaise with physicians and medical professionals when setting appointments. In some facilities, both medical professionals and administrative staff have access to a computer-based calendar. The receptionist can see when a physician is available to see patients by checking the calendar system and having provided the patient with the time and date, this individual then enters the information into the physician's schedule as shown on the system.

Receptionists are usually responsible for handling the phone switchboard as many medical facilities have multiple phone lines and employ many different medical professionals. He or she answers outside calls and either directs those calls to the relevant professional or takes down a message. When faced with customer complaints, people employed in these roles may have to make arrangements for the facility manager to meet with the client while less serious issues are normally handled by front-of-house reception employees.

Many firms employ high school graduates to fill these positions while others prefer to hire people who have undergone some formal secretarial or office-related training. Some community colleges offer short-term vocational classes for customer service industry workers and administrators and many receptionists enroll in these programs rather than full college degree courses. People who have previously worked as nurses or medical technicians are sometimes chosen for these jobs because they are familiar with medical practices and terms.

A clinic receptionist is often responsible for greeting patients as they arrive.
A clinic receptionist is often responsible for greeting patients as they arrive.

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