September 17, 2019
Rushing staff orientation and jumping right into training can be a costly mistake. To be an effective ambassador for your practice, each staff must understand the practice’s brand and culture, the physician’s style, and what makes the patient’s experience with you unique from competitors.
Think of orientation as “pre-training.” Orientation provides the foundational elements that make an employee’s training and bond with you even more effective.
Direct each new employee to complete the following:
1. Review the practice website in detail.
The entire team must know it like the back of their hand so they can explain what’s on it, and direct patients to use it. For instance, if you offer CareCredit, staff should understand how to tell patients where and why to click the custom link to apply. Or, if you have a patient portal, they should be able to explain where to access the portal on your site, and the features available. Like scheduling or requesting a refill.
2. Review the physician’s curriculum vitae (CV).
Everyone in the practice must be able to explain the scope of the doctor’s training, including medical school and where he or she completed residency or fellowship.
3. Meet with the physician to hear his or her vision of the brand.
So many physicians skip this then wonder why employees don’t behave or perform in alignment with the brand. Don’t leave this to osmosis or chance. Make sure each new employee has the opportunity to sit down with the physician and review topics such as expected behaviors, practice culture, and the characteristics of your patient mix. You’ll be surprised how this conversation and the word choices used by the doctor will stick with each person on the team. “We are the Ritz” is different than “we are Kmart.”
4. Review all the practice’s social media and online rating site listings.
Because this can be a lot of content to sort through, new staff should review these over the course of several weeks to a month. Meet with each new employee at the two-week mark to discuss what they’ve learned so far, and any suggestions they have for improvement.
5. Review the web sites, social media, and online ratings of your top five competitors.
Staff must be able to speak intelligently about the other options in the market. And, understanding your competitors is important to how staff explain why your practice is unique. At a minimum, staff should review competitor ratings on Yelp and Vitals.
6. Shadow 5-10 new patient visits.
It’s important that everyone has the opportunity to hear the physician’s consultation style and terminology. They need to truly understand his or her philosophy. Observing consultations also helps all employees understand the process so they can accurately explain it to patients.
Schedule these within the first four to six weeks of each new employee’s tenure. Always obtain permission from the patient for the employee to observe, and ask the employee to step out of the exam room during the clinical examination.
7. Read specialty society printed and online materials.
Again, this is a lot of content and will take time to review and digest. At key intervals during the first four to six weeks, schedule time to discuss which procedures the doctor performs most often, and point out any differences in your patient care.
8. Review the practice’s unique service propositions (USPs).
Each new employee must have an integral understanding of what makes the practice different. It will take time for any new team member to integrate the information. So expect that you will have to discuss USPs verbally, provide them in writing, and query staff about them over time. During orientation, review the USPs during the first week and again at the end of the first month, after the new employee has reviewed web and social sites, shadowed some consultations, and interacted with staff and patients.
No matter how dire your need to fill a staff position, you cannot cut the orientation process short. Make sure your team understands and is confident about your brand, competition, USPs, and marketing material before they are on their own with patients.