Seven Tips for Protecting Your Business’s Data

It’s Monday morning. You arrive at the office early to get a jump on the week ahead. You log into your computer, take a sip of coffee, and suddenly you have a sinking feeling as you read the message on your screen: “All your files have been encrypted. Pay the ransom within 72 hours or say goodbye to your files forever.”

This is something no business owner ever wants to experience. Maybe you can afford to pay the ransom. Maybe not. Maybe the hacker will send you the decryption key. Maybe not. Maybe you can get by without those files and still stay in business. Maybe not.

What do you do?

Ideally, you’ll never find yourself in this situation because you’ve taken preventative measures. Sounds complicated, right? Yes, cybersecurity is complicated. It can also be overwhelming and expensive. It’s certainly not fun (well, for most people). And while there’s no guaranteed protection from these types of attacks, the good news is, a few simple measures can greatly reduce your risk.

Let’s put things in perspective: protecting your data is a bit like protecting your home. You have no way of knowing if a burglar will ever pay you a visit or how he/she might attempt to get in, so you’ll need to make some decisions. You already have locks on your doors and windows, but you may also choose to install an alarm system, or video cameras, or get a large dog. Maybe you’ll opt for all of the above. The point is, whatever measures you take are better than taking no measures at all.

When it comes to protecting your business’s data, leaving your front door wide open shouldn’t be an option. At least consider taking these seven basic steps to boost your cybersecurity:

1. Be smart about your passwords.

Use unique passwords for all online accounts, and remember that when it comes to passwords, longer is stronger. Passphrases that include upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols work well. Something along the lines of “I’m so glad 2020 is behind us!” is far more secure than “mary88.” Using unique passwords for different accounts is important so that a hacker can’t access all of your accounts if he/she gains access to one of your passwords. I know what you’re thinking: “But remembering all those passwords is way too difficult!” That’s where a password manager comes in. Password managers can securely store your passwords so that you no longer need to memorize them. LastPass is a good option, but there are many others out there as well.

2. Use multi-factor authentication where possible.

Huh? Multi-what?? Multi-factor authentication (MFA) simply means a user will need more than just your username and password to access your account. The most common form of MFA involves entering a 6-digit code that has been texted to your cell phone after you’ve entered your username and password. In this case, a hacker would need your username, password, and cell phone in order to access your account. This is an important layer of security for your most critical accounts, including your financial accounts, password manager, and yes, even your email.

3. Keep your software up to date.

When Windows says it has updates to install, don’t put them off. The same goes for your anti-virus software (more on that later) and the operating systems on your mobile devices. The bad guys continue to find ways to hack into various systems. That’s why software companies are constantly releasing patches to plug the holes that hackers have exploited. Be sure to help them plug those holes!

4. Install anti-virus software.

Microsoft Defender comes standard with Windows 10 at no extra cost. Symantec and McAfee are also good options. Choose your software, install it on every computer in your office, and keep it updated. This may be your last line of defense.

5. Never share credentials.

Assign unique accounts (email, practice management software, etc.) to all employees, limit their permissions, and NEVER share your passwords with them. If an employee leaves, disable his or her account immediately. A disgruntled employee with access to your accounts can do a great deal of damage.

6. Lock your screen.

Getting up to grab a cup of coffee? Press the Windows Key and L on your keyboard before you get up. It only takes a fraction second. Never leave your computer unlocked. Remember that disgruntled employee we just mentioned? Don’t take a chance—just lock the computer and re-enter your password when you return. Again, it only takes a second.

7. Educate your employees.

Countless ransomware (and other cyber) attacks begin with a simple phishing email. This is an email that appears to come from a reputable source, maybe your bank, a vendor, or even an employee. These emails typically contain malicious attachments or links, or in some cases, they simply aim to start a dialogue with you in the hopes of tricking you into giving up information (account credentials, social security number, etc.). Learn about phishing and educate your team. Talk about it often. Sure, your employees will probably get tired of hearing about it, but they also might think twice before clicking on a link that promises a $100 gift card.

There are many more steps that you can take to protect yourself and your business from cyberattacks (data backups, secure Wi-Fi, firewalls, etc.). And although no one is ever completely safe from cyber threats, every step listed above will bolster your security and reduce your chances of becoming a victim. You don’t need to have Fort Knox-level security—just don’t leave your front door wide open.

About the Author

Bob Lind is the Director of IT and Project Management at Consult YHN. He joined the company in 2011 and has over 25 years of experience in the Information Technology field. When he’s not trying to mitigate cyber threats, Bob enjoys wine tasting with his wife and playing lead guitar for a local classic rock cover band.

Why Externships Are a Win-Win for Students and Practices

Fourth-year externships are an integral part of any Doctor of Audiology (Au.D.) program at an accredited university. But that doesn’t mean that externship programs only favor students. In this post, I’ll explain how the externship system is a win-win for both fourth-year externs and the clinics that employ them.

Side note: normally, externships for 2021 would be filled by now, but it’s not been a normal year. If you are considering an externship for the fall, now is the time to take action and start planning.

Benefits for Students

Most doctoral candidates in audiology are required by their institutions to complete a certain number of hours of supervised clinical practicum at an off-campus clinical site during a 12-month externship. This real-world, hands-on experience is crucial for audiology students to gain the necessary skills and knowledge to work with a variety of populations and disorders in different settings. It also helps them develop their ability to evaluate and integrate scientific research into clinical practice. In a nationwide survey, fourth-year audiology students ranked “scope of practice at the facility” as the most important factor in determining a desirable externship placement, followed by “type of facility” and “ability to work with other professionals.” I recently spoke to three four-year externs—two of whom work at VA hospitals and one at the prestigious Cleveland Clinic. Each student shared with me that their experiences helped them decide what they want to specialize in. Some of those decisions include treating adults versus pediatric patients, working in a more clinical (hospital, ENT) setting versus a dispensing environment (private practice), and determining what technologies/hearing aid manufacturers they’re most comfortable using. Students with an entrepreneurial spirit or interest in sales and marketing can choose to extern at private practice to learn firsthand what it takes to run a hearing healthcare business. This experience will either encourage their desire to open their own practice after graduation (and put them in a better position to succeed when they do) or confirm they’d be happier working for a hospital, university, or ENT. So, how does hiring an extern stand to benefit a practice owner or director of ENT clinic or hospital audiology department?

Benefits for Clinics

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the national employment rate of audiologists is expected to grow much faster than average through the year 2028.
In fact, the BLS predicts that an additional 2,200 audiologists will be needed to fill the demand between now and 2028. That’s a 16% increase in job openings.
With this large disparity between supply and demand for audiologists, practice owners should do everything in their power to build a pipeline of potential providers. Employing a fourth-year extern allows a clinic to “test drive” a potential full-time permanent employee. That student can also bring in a fresh perspective from their schooling, especially when it comes to advances in technology. There’s a good chance that if the extern has a good experience, they will strongly consider staying at that clinic once he/she graduates. It’s important to note that each of the 70+ accredited Doctorate of Audiology programs in the country has its own established guidelines for clinics interested in becoming an externship site. This includes everything from the required number of hours of clinical experience students need to complete to the specific type of clinical work students need to be exposed to. Some universities require that supervising audiologists be ASHA certified (i.e. have a Certificate of Clinical Competence in Audiology from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association). Externship sites are not required to provide monetary compensation, however, most do and offer it in the form of a stipend or a regular paycheck.

Conclusion

The fourth-year externship has always been and will continue to be, a crucial pathway in the field of audiology. Students gain valuable practical experience after three years of vigorous study while clinics can closely evaluate someone who could be a key contributor to their future growth and success. It’s the ultimate win-win in a field that has a very bright and expanding future.
Still not sure if hiring a fourth-year extern is the right decision for your practice? Need help recruiting Au.D. students in your area? Consult YHN’s experienced recruiters can help! Talk to your Account Manager or contact our Recruiting Department today at recruiting@consultyhn.com.

About the Author

Ira Disman joined Consult YHN in 2011 as the recruiter for home office and field sales positions. He started his career as an agency recruiter in the insurance industry and then worked as a Corporate Recruiter for the PWC Consulting practice and the software company Synygy/Optymyze. Ira holds a bachelor’s degree from Babson College and an MBA (Human Resources) from Drexel University. When not working, he enjoys getting his money’s worth on the golf course by hitting many, many shots during a round.

Candidate Care: Why It Matters and Five Tips to Improve It

One thing we know about today’s candidate market is that it will be more competitive tomorrow. And, as hiring becomes more aggressive, a skills shortage is soon to follow.
Don’t let the record high unemployment rate fool you—the healthcare job market is just as competitive as it was pre-pandemic. That’s why it’s important to understand the factors that impact your business’s approach to finding, attracting, and retaining top talent.

It’s important to provide your candidates consistent support. For example, I call candidates to ensure they are prepared for their upcoming interviews and then I also call candidates after the interview to see how it went. I do this because if I were the candidate, I would appreciate this level of attention and care.

Candidate care should start the second you first open a job requisition and extend all the way through the rest of the hiring process, regardless of whether the candidate is offered the job or not. The entire process is an opportunity for your practice to build a relationship with the candidate. Do everything right and he or she can become a spokesperson for your organization. Do it wrong and it could affect your company’s reputation and interview process moving forward.

Here are five reasons why the candidate experience matters along with helpful tips on how to improve your own:

1. It improves communication and trust

By going out of your way to find opportunities and update candidates, you’ll immediately foster a relationship of trust. Providing feedback, good or bad, will prevent you from burning any bridges. Maintaining regular communication with candidates through the hiring process will also keep you updated on the candidate’s overall job search (for example: if they receive and accept another job offer or decide to stay with their current employer). I make it a point to stay in touch with candidates that I think are impressive because even if they’re not a good fit for one position, they could be for another position down the road. One time, even though I had to pass on a candidate after our initial interview, she was so pleased with the process and my responsiveness that she referred someone else to the role. So, I can tell you from experience that candidate engagement and interest will come naturally if you put forth the effort.

The #1 way people discover a new job is through a referral

2. It influences interview outcomes

It’s important to keep in mind that the interview process can be daunting, especially for candidates who are new to the job market or have worked at the same company for many years. If you can help alleviate some of the stress they’re feeling, they might have a better chance of succeeding. Prepping candidates before they interview with the decision-maker is vital. For example, even though I prep candidates for front office positions before they interview with an office manager, it’s up to that office manager to then prep the remaining candidates before the final interview with the owner. Tell them who they will meet, what to bring, what to wear, and any other tips that might be beneficial. Afterward, provide feedback on any areas where they can improve so they can sharpen their interview skills. Job seekers want and appreciate constructive feedback.

94% of job seekers want to receive interview feedback

3. It creates allies and can strengthen your brand

Many candidates believe how they’re treated during the interview process is indicative of how they would be treated as employees. This is their first insight into what a typical day looks like at the company. In other words, they’re evaluating you just as much as you’re evaluating them. Any inefficiencies in your hiring process or lag in response time could be seen as red flags to potential hires. And if candidates have a negative experience with your practice, there’s no guarantee they’re going to keep it to themselves—they might tell their friends and family, they might post about it on their social media, they might even leave a review on Glassdoor. On the other hand, a positive candidate experience can propel your brand and lead to more referrals.

78% of candidates will tell friends and family about a bad interview experience

4. It increases the quality of hires and decreases the time to hire

By providing a superior candidate experience and making a good first impression, there’s a much greater chance that when you do extend an offer, it will be accepted. Research shows employers have only 10 days before qualified candidates disappear from the job market. An easy, user-friendly career page and application can speed up the process and ensure your perfect employee isn’t taken by the practice down the street. Consult YHN’s experienced recruiters can help streamline your practice’s hiring process by working with you to develop core competency models and job descriptions as well as interview and assessment questions. We’ll even prescreen candidates to evaluate their skills and provide timely feedback on each, allowing you to make the final hiring decision with greater confidence (while also conserving a lot of time and energy).

68% of candidates think the way a company treats them in the hiring process reflects how it treats its employees

5. It increases candidates’ likelihood to stay at the company long-term

Once an offer has been extended and accepted, be sure to check in with your new hires regularly. It shows that you care about how they are doing and that they are happy in their new role. Answer any questions and address any concerns they may have (questions about human resources policies/procedures, suggestions for improvements, etc.). Being there for them as they start their new position ensures that you’re able to work towards a solution, if needed, and that your placements become long-term.

Remember that a candidate’s experience doesn’t end the moment you extend an offer. Providing new employees with the resources to be successful and creating a positive workplace culture will help them become a valuable contributor to your practice’s growth. Every company has room to improve its candidate care. We should always be considering how we can improve our processes to attract an even higher caliber of talent. Doing right by people is always good business.

Take the stress out of staffing. Leave it to Consult Recruiting!

About the Author

Jason DiOttavio joined ConsultYHN as a Corporate Recruiter in 2011. Previously, he worked as an agency recruiter for a staffing firm specializing in IT/Administrative roles including such large companies as Dietz & Watson. When not working, Jason enjoys spending time with his wife and two young daughters. He’s also obsessed with cooking shows and finding new ice cream and donut shops.

Beyond the Resume: Finding the Right Candidate for Your Practice

There is more to recruiting than combing through a stack of resumes. Anyone can look good on paper. There are countless websites and resources devoted to helping job seekers paint their best selves on paper. It’s also easy to embellish or, even, lie on a resume.

Consult YHN’s recruiting team prides itself on being expeditious yet thorough when filling vacant positions in our practices. Our screening process begins with reviewing a candidate’s resume to consider his/her education, skills, and professional background.

However, it’s all about looking beyond the resume to discover the person behind it. This is the only way to gauge if a candidate will be a long-term asset to your business. Too many hiring managers overlook exceptional candidates simply because they don’t check off every box on their “must-have” list or fit their idea of “the perfect candidate.” One thing I’ve learned over the past 15 years of recruiting for Consult is that the best person for the job is not always the person you’d expect.

Below are six tactics we recommend to our Associates to help them identify the “right fit” for their practices.

1. Keep an open mind, especially when hiring for non-clinical roles.

You’re casting a very narrow net and potentially missing out on great candidates if you’re only willing to consider people with experience working in an audiology practice or the medical field. Over the years, I’ve placed numerous candidates in our practices with no prior industry experience who have developed into rock-star employees. For front office positions, I’ve had great success with candidates with sales and/or retail experience (more on that later).

There are five main questions you should answer before extending an offer—this is what matters the most:

  • Can the candidate do the job?
  • Is the candidate motivated to do the job?
  • Is the candidate interested in learning new skills?
  • Is the candidate coachable?
  • Is the candidate a good culture fit?

2. Hire for personality over competency.

If you’re a busy practice looking to fill a position quickly, it’s understandable that you’d want a candidate who can hit the ground running. But there are drawbacks to only interviewing based on skillset. Skills can be developed— however, traits, attributes, and attitudes that often make a candidate successful cannot be taught—they either have them or they don’t. Studies show that most new hires fail NOT because of technical competence (skills) but because of other factors relating to emotional intelligence (EQ).

EQ is that hard-to-describe, special something in a person that affects how they make decisions and navigate complex situations. When vetting a candidate, be sure to look at the following traits which are predictors for high levels of EQ:
  • Ability to learn and adapt to change
  • Response to stressful situations and constructive criticism
  • Teamwork and social skills
  • Integrity, honesty, and empathy
  • Determination and drive for success
  • Accountability/ownership of responsibilities
In the long run, practices are better off taking the time to properly onboard and train employees. Consult YHN’s weekly teletrainings and Employee Development Program (EDP) can ensure every member of your team has the skills needed to be effective in their roles.

3. Ask behavioral questions in your interviews.

This is the best way to get a feel for a candidate’s EQ. During interviews, ask candidates a question relating to conflict resolution. For example, “Tell me about a time that you had a disagreement with a co-worker (or customer) and how you resolved it?”

Then, consider the following:

  • Did they know what they did wrong?
  • Did they control their emotions/anger?
  • Did they really understand the other side?
  • Why did they seek to resolve the conflict? Did they engage for the right reasons?
  • How did they solve the issue? Were they mindful of the outcome or social cost?

When interviewing candidates with a sales/retail background, my ears perk up if they mention going out on the floor and approaching customers to help them with their purchases and/or upsell them on products (thus producing more sales for the store). I also make a note if they mention staying late, working weekends and holidays, or coming in when coworkers call out. What this says to me is that this person has a strong work ethic, is driven to succeed, knows how to be a team player, and can be flexible.

4. Ask more than just questions.

Incorporating role-playing exercises in your interview process will give you a better idea of how a candidate will perform in the role. If you’re hiring someone to answer phones, have him/her answer a mock phone call during the interview. Or, pretend to be a difficult patient in a common scenario and pay close attention to how well the candidate fares under the pressure.

5. Try to remain objective and elicit feedback from others.

There are dozens of unconscious biases that affect our judgment every day. We’re genetically programmed to like people who are like us and fear those who are different or unfamiliar. If a candidate reminds you of an employee you’ve had a positive or negative experience with previously, there’s a good chance it’s going to color your opinion of that person.

The easiest way to prevent biases from clouding your hiring decisions is to: A) be mindful of them, B) seek out other people’s opinions, and C) follow a uniform process in how you assess and interview candidates.

One of the benefits of working with Consult Recruiting is that we provide feedback for every candidate we screen. We also work with practices to develop core competency models and interview and assessment questions, all of which can help ensure your hiring process is fair and that every candidate is held to the same standards.

6. Pay attention to the details and focus on the facts.

Many job seekers are going to say whatever they think employers want to hear in interviews. Employers also tend to favor the most charismatic and well-spoken candidates. That’s why it’s important to try to read between the lines and look for concrete evidence wherever you can.

A few examples:

  • Take note of how long they worked for their past employers. Do they have a pattern of bouncing from job to job quickly or committing to jobs for a long time? Also, is there any overlap? Did they ever juggle two jobs or an internship/externship and a part-time job?
  • Ask for examples of specific achievements. How exactly did they engineer those achievements? Do they have any numbers to back up their claims?
  • Pay attention to the questions they ask. Are they insightful? Do they suggest the candidate is enthusiastic about the role? Did the candidate clearly research the industry and/or practice?
  • Read their body language. You can learn a lot about a candidate’s personality and level of interest in the opportunity from their gestures, posture, facial expressions, and eye contact.

Your employees are your most valuable asset. Behind every successful practice is a high-performing team of engaged and motivated individuals. That’s why it’s critical to make the right hiring decisions. Sometimes that means thinking outside the box and choosing a candidate who has the attitude and personality to positively influence your company’s culture over the most skilled and experienced candidate.   

There are a lot of diamonds in the rough—you just need the right lens and a little bit of polish to find them.

Find the right candidate for your practice!

About the Author

Dawn Bauer is a Senior Recruiter who has been with Consult YHN since 2003. Previously, she spent 15 years working in banking and accounting, including 2 years in Consult YHN’s billing department. When she’s not at work, you can find Dawn either on the beach, in a shoe store, or at a concert.

Top 5 Reasons a Business Plan is Key to Your Success in 2021

Exactly one year ago, my uncle decided to set out for an adventure of a lifetime. He rode his bicycle across the country from Astoria, Oregon to Astoria in Queens, New York. He took his time to research his route, his stops, the equipment he needed, and the different types of terrain he would face. He also enrolled in classes to learn skills in wilderness survival and bike repairs. Once he started his journey, he logged and documented everything, including mileage, and set daily goals for himself.

If he didn’t hit one of his goals, then he looked for alternate ways to make up that time. His path continuously changed and challenged him—he rode on highways, gravel, paved roads, trails, and even over an international bridge in Sarnia, Ontario. With his focus, perseverance, and well laid out plan, he accomplished his goal: he rode 3,410 miles in 48 days.

His journey inspires me in so many ways. His work ethic and methods show that with proper planning and execution, anything is possible. Additionally, we need to spend less time thinking and more time doing.

Running your practice without a business plan or Annual Strategic Action Plan (ASAP) is like bicycling cross-country without a map or GPS and wearing a blindfold—it’s silly, it’s reckless, and it’s probably going to take longer for you to get to your destination.

The purpose of a business plan is to lay out both a short and long-term strategy for growth. It serves as the roadmap from where you are to where you want to be, outlining the individual steps and tools you need along the way. What’s your mission? Where do you see yourself in five, ten, twenty years? Where do you see your business in that same time? A business plan can help you answer these questions by allowing you to take a step back from the day-to-day demands of running the practice and focus on the big picture.

As a Consult YHN Account Manager, I work with Associates across the nation and hear what’s consistently working in their practices. What I’ve found is practices that create and execute a business plan are more successful than those that don’t execute one. Studies show that business planning can help you grow your business as much as 30 percent faster!

There are several key benefits of executing a business plan, including:

#1: It allows you to prioritize and set achievable goals.

Business plans don’t need to be overly complicated, but they do need to be executable and draw a clear connection between your actions and the results you plan to achieve. Goals like increasing revenue by 50 percent won’t seem as daunting when you have a plan that breaks it down into smaller, achievable steps. More specifically, a good business plan outlines SMART goals:

Use your plan to guide your sales and marketing strategies. It will ensure you keep track of what needs to happen, when, and in what order. For example, scheduling marketing strategies to promote a new product launch.

#2: It minimizes your risk.

Establishing a business plan isn’t just about setting goals—it’s about consistently tracking your progress toward those goals and making changes as your business grows and evolves. This will give you peace of mind that your business is heading in the right direction. Or, you’ll know that you need to make adjustments or try a different route altogether. There are two key financial statements you should build and regularly review as part of your business plan: Cash-Flow Analysis and Profit & Loss (P&L) Analysis. These help you to closely monitor the overall financial health of your practice and identify any potential cash flow challenges or opportunities.

There’s always a certain level of risk that comes with starting your own business. Some risks you can see coming from a mile away, but others are impossible to predict (like a global pandemic). Either way, it’s easier to handle issues when you’re actively looking for them. And the sooner you catch them, the less likely they are to snowball into a crisis.

#3: It allows you to make spending decisions with greater confidence.

As your business grows, there are some important spending decisions you’ll need to make: when to hire a new employee, whether you can afford to upgrade your equipment, whether you should open another office, etc. If you have a firm understanding of your practice’s financial health, you will have the information you need to make sound business decisions. A business plan is also invaluable in devising and executing an effective marketing strategy. It will help you determine how much you can/should spend on marketing to achieve your revenue goals.

#4: It’s essential if you’re seeking a loan or investment or want to sell your practice.

Would you ever invest in a business without understanding its business model or financials? Hopefully, not. And, neither would any investor. If one day down the road you decide to sell your practice, it will likely be worth more if you have a plan that shows the business is in good fiscal standing and has the potential to grow.

#5: It can help motivate your team and increase efficiencies.

A business plan that clearly communicates your vision and goals is one of the best ways to ensure your entire team is on the same page. Rallying your staff behind a common goal can also increase your collective efficiency and lead to higher levels of engagement. Knowing how their daily duties and actions relate to the business’s bottom line gives employees a greater sense of purpose and pride in their work. Be sure to regularly review your progress with your team, either during your Daily Huddle or monthly or quarterly staff meetings. This way, everyone knows what’s expected of them and can be held accountable for contributing to the practice’s success.

 

With a solid business plan and the right guidance and resources, any practice can become a million-dollar practice. Let us help you get there! Consult YHN will be hosting several Virtual Managing Business Activities (MBA) workshops to kick off the 2021 business planning process. These workshops help our Associates define their financial and organizational goals through the creation of their Annual Strategic Action Plan (ASAP) and Annual Marketing Plan (AMP).

About the Author

Jessica Shah joined Consult YHN in 2017 and currently serves as an Account Manager in the company’s Inside Sales Division as part of the Account Activation Team (AAT). Her diverse professional background includes sales, marketing, and planning experience, having previously worked in the healthcare industry as well as for the hospitality giant, Marriott-Starwood International. When not working, Jessica enjoys spending time with her husband of 13 years and her two energetic boys. They love to travel, entertain, and spending time with family and friends.

Are You Empowering Your Front Office to Drive Revenue? Three Questions to Ask Yourself!

The Front Office Professional (FOP) is essential to an effective and efficient hearing healthcare office. Both in-person and over the phone, FOPs are key in establishing rapport with patients, creating a positive first impression, and helping to drive opportunities.
 
Many practice owners overlook that their front office staff can and should do more than answer phones and schedule appointments—they should help drive revenue every day.

Below are three questions to determine if you’re empowering your Front Office Professionals with the skills and knowledge they need to be a major player in the success of your business:

QUESTION #1: Does your FOP believe in the power of the Third Party and is she/he strongly encouraging patients to bring a loved one to appointments?

You’re most likely aware of the benefits connected to having a trusted family member or friend accompany patients to their appointments, including having a familiar voice during their evaluation and the added case history acquired.

As a Consult YHN member, you also know that increasing your practice’s Third Party rate results in greater patient satisfaction, a reduction in Tested Not Sold patients, and lower return rates. In some practices, it may also increase the closure rate by as much as 10-20 percent.

But is your FOP aware of these benefits? Can your FOP confidently convey to patients the value of having a significant other present for evaluations? To make this point more relatable, ask your FOP how long he/she spent with the doctor the last time he/she was sick? No one has ever answered an hour or more (the typical length of a hearing aid evaluation appointment)!

Source: The Hearing Review

It’s important to demonstrate that the companion is there for support and not because the patient can’t make their own decision. Studies show that 40-80 percent of what patients hear in a doctor’s office is forgotten, regardless of age. So, having two sets of ears is better than one, especially since one of those sets may be struggling to hear.

Lastly, let’s not overlook the potential referral opportunities: many active couples have combined friends and their own individual social networks. Your practice can potentially test the Third Party, or even seek recommendations from both parties, and grow your database – but only if your FOP is consistently emphasizing the need for a companion!

QUESTION #2: Does your Front Office believe that Calling is Caring?

What separates your practice from the competition is the world-class service you provide. The businesses that are most successful in retaining current patients and attracting new ones use a staff member (Patient Communication Specialist) or a service (Your Patient Contact Center) dedicated to making outbound calls to current patients and prospects. This function protects the practice’s most valuable patient resource—its database—and helps fill the schedule with opportunities. We know that 43 percent of patients buy their next set of aids from someone else. That’s why consistently contacting existing patients is vital to keeping your relationships warm and your practice top-of-mind.

However, this is the aspect of the job that more traditional front office employees (receptionists, schedulers) are not prepared for when they enter the hearing healthcare industry. Not only do a successful FOPs need to have computer, filing, customer service, and organization skills, but they also need to own the schedule, manage the provider’s time proactively, and take responsibility to create and enhance the patient experience. We advise FOPs to develop relationships with callers before they come to the office and continue to foster that connection once they become a patient. This way, a call from your practice isn’t an intrusion, but rather a chance to ensure continued patient satisfaction.

Source: Audiology Online

The recommended schedule and mix of patient contact methods may push some FOPs outside their comfort zone. To help reduce anxieties and increase skills and efficiencies, Consult conducts weekly tele-trainings with FOPs from practices across the country. During these trainings participants will learn about why these calls are so important and best practices for scripting to get the greatest results. They will also be encouraged to share their challenges and success stories, allowing them to reap the rewards of being part of a network of likeminded businesses.

QUESTION #3: Does your FOP know the value of each call generated by your marketing initiatives?

Based on the data that we have collected from our Associates, on average, each scheduled opportunity appointment is worth approximately $1,200 in profit for your practice. But how can FOPs understand the significance of each incoming phone call if practice owners don’t share this kind of information with them? Once they understand the value of each incoming call, they should be more motivated to improve their call conversion ratio. A great way to do so is to have them listen to recordings of how they have handled incoming calls. No one enjoys the sound of their own voice, but recording and replaying phone calls are one the best ways to improve the caller experience. A trained ear can easily identify if an FOP is unclear about information or unable to answer the caller’s questions. If you don’t have call tracking/recording in place, Consult’s training team will perform secret shopper calls. We can determine what training and guidance is needed, for example, properly scheduling appointment types, discussing the importance of the Third Party, or overusing technical terms and abbreviations (jargon) that the patient doesn’t understand.

Source: Harvard Business Review

Consult’s virtual Employee Development Program (EDP) workshops should be an essential component in your staff’s development plan. These online training events focus on building and developing your team’s skillset so they can actively contribute to driving opportunities and enhancing the patient experience.

Start empowering your front office staff today! Talk to your Account Manager to learn more about our EDP workshops and weekly tele-trainings!

About the Author

Miki Follin has been an Assistant Account Manager with the West Team at Consult YHN since October 2016. Miki brings retail store management, training, and customer service experience from her years with CVS/Pharmacy and Enterprise Rent-A-Car. When not helping Front Office staff learn and develop, you can find her cheering on Arizona’s sports teams, enjoying the sunshine!