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Fam Pract Manag. 2005;12(8):59

Streamline patient registration

In many practices, patient registration is delegated to front-office staff who are overloaded with greeting patients, booking appointments, coordinating referrals and answering phones. This may result in inadequate information being collected to meet the needs of the back-office billing staff, which can result in delayed or denied claims.

To optimize the registration process, consider separating it from the front desk and train one or more staff members to manage this function. The registration staff can even contact patients before their scheduled appointments to ensure your office has accurate demographic and insurance information.

Ensure optimal care for obese patients

Approximately 30 percent of U.S. adults are obese, an increase from 15 percent nearly 20 years ago. These patients often delay seeking medical care because of self-consciousness about their weight and challenges accessing services.

To ensure optimal care for these patients, educate your staff about treating them with respect. Make sure your office has adequate equipment, supplies and furniture, such as extra-large gowns, large blood pressure cuffs, sturdy examination tables, and armless chairs or couches in the waiting room. In addition, make sure to weigh patients in a private area.

Can Medicare be charged more than other payers?

Enhance team performance

While there’s no guaranteed formula for creating a high-functioning staff, successful teams share the following approaches:

  1. They establish an urgent, worthwhile purpose to drive performance.

  2. They select members based on skills and potential, rather than personality.

  3. They understand that first impressions matter, especially ones made by those in authority, because they set the tone for the entire group.

  4. They establish clear rules of conduct, such as “no finger pointing” or “everyone gets assignments and does them,” to help them achieve their goals.

  5. They gain momentum by setting a few performance-oriented goals that can be reached early on.

  6. They regularly seek new information, which may redefine and enrich their understanding of their purpose, goals and approaches.

  7. They spend time together, both scheduled and unscheduled, especially in the beginning.

  8. They use positive feedback, recognition and rewards to shape behaviors critical to team performance.


Practice Pearls presents the best advice on effective, efficient practice operations and patient care drawn from the medical and business literature, along with tips developed from your experience. Send us your best pearl (250 words or less), and if we publish it, you’ll earn $25. We also welcome questions for our Q&A section. Send your pearls and your questions to us at


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Copyright © 2005 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.

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