Encore! EP297: A Driver of Patient Engagement and Clinician Team Success That Is Almost Always Overlooked, With Jerry Durham
Relentless Health Value™April 04, 202434:3247.42 MB

Encore! EP297: A Driver of Patient Engagement and Clinician Team Success That Is Almost Always Overlooked, With Jerry Durham

For a full transcript of this episode, click here.

This show has implications for provider organizations of all stripes, especially those looking to succeed in value-based care or those who need patient trust and relationships for any other reason, including just patient volume.

This episode also is for provider organizations who are trying to prevent clinician burnout better.

It’s also for practices trying to get themselves into narrow networks where patient satisfaction is surveyed at some point in the process, and this includes Centers of Excellence networks.

You know what the rate critical is that I talk about on the show today with Jerry Durham that rarely, if ever, gets talked about in any of these contexts? It’s not some fancy data artificial intelligence thing or something else the doctor needs to be clicking on or nurses need to step up and handle. Nope. I’m talking about the front desk. What an overlooked secret to success or a clinician and clinical failure point!

Consider that what goes on on or about the front desk is either gonna set up the doctor or other provider for success or make it really really hard for them.

This is what I talk about today with Jerry Durham in this encore episode from a couple of years ago that is still so incredibly relevant because the insights that Jerry shares are so often overlooked and they impact both patients but also doctors and other clinicians in ways we don’t often think about but, in this era of staff shortages and burnout, I’d suggest maybe we should.

Here’s something I never really understood: how physicians and nurses more often than not get to be responsible for the entire patient journey, including, start to finish, patient satisfaction. But if you just take one look at any random poorly rated physician’s reviews, they’re usually littered with complaints about the front desk in the practice. Negative reviews, of course, are not limited to front desk diatribes; but there’s often a lot of front desk commentary in them.

It has always seemed to me to be a common and strange phenomenon in healthcare provider practices where the front desk is like a totally separate little fiefdom with a different mission statement and goals from the healthcare providers in the same exact office. Isn’t that odd when you think about it? I mean, first, the front desk is literally physically separated from everybody else. No matter which direction you approach from, there’s at a minimum a half-wall barrier surrounding them. Sometimes, in directions most likely to receive an attack, I suppose, there’s been added a big glass barrier.

Liliana Petrova pointed this out in episode 236 of the Relentless Health Value podcast, and it was really the first time that I had thought about it at all and also thought about the implicit message this sends not only to patients but also to clinicians. That whole physicality of the setup, it just screams, “We over here have nothing to do with the mission or vision of anyone else in this place. We have our own thing going on over here, and to do it, we need to be protected from you all and all of your chicanery and untoward goings-on, you doctors and nurses and patients!”

So, I was really inspired the first time I heard Jerry Durham from The Client Experience Company talking. His message, as I understood it, was that a practice really on board with helping patients achieve the best patient outcomes and, nothing for nothing, erode clinician burnout includes the front desk in their thinking. Jerry has said that there’s four phases in the patient life cycle, as he calls it, which is sort of a synonym for the patient journey:

1. Marketing

2. The moment that a patient/person engages with the clinic or office

3. Provider interactions

4. The post course of care

So, all of these phases—all four of them—are critical to both patient outcomes and experience but also, really, to business success. So, you kind of almost have to do well by doing good. The front desk is mostly responsible for that phase two: what happens when that person/patient engages with your office or clinic.

In this healthcare podcast, as mentioned, I’m talking with Jerry Durham. He’s a former physical therapist and practice owner who has worked with a whole lot of PT (physical therapy) practices and also other MSK (musculoskeletal) specialties among other clients. His message transcends the specialty, however.

In this healthcare podcast, we get into a lot of aspects in terms of how a front desk can work for or against patient experience and outcomes. One of them is how a front desk can help secure a patient’s relationship with a practice. Without a relationship and trust, patient outcomes are meh at best. But a lack of trust is a big hairy factor behind disparities in outcomes among different ethnic groups, for example, as one point to ponder.

Also mentioned in this episode are Liliana Petrova and Julie Rish, PhD.

You can learn more at clientexperiencecompany.com or by emailing Jerry at jerry@jerrydurhampt.com.


Jerry Durham is a healthcare consultant and physiotherapist with a singular passion for leveraging the entire healthcare practice team toward improved patient outcomes while increasing the practice bottom line. Jerry has 30+ years’ experience as a physiotherapist, including 20+ years of business ownership, including practice ownership, business consulting, and a virtual front desk sales solutions for healthcare practices. Jerry has spent a lot of time on the front line of physio practices answering calls and learning why patients think and act the way they do when interacting with the front desk team. He has learned how to leverage the information at first contact carried all the way through to a completed plan of care, and these are the systems that lead to greater patient outcomes and greater practice success. Jerry defines these systems as “the rules of client engagement.”


05:49 What is the patient life cycle?

06:48 What are the milestones of the patient life cycle? When does it start?

10:05 “This isn’t a business solution; this is a patient-driven solution.”

10:21 “What is best for the patient is best for business.”

13:25 “The takeaway there is that your team members are all driving toward the same goal.”

14:34 How does the front desk impact health outcomes?

16:41 What is the objective of a front desk to reduce provider burden?

20:03 EP236 with Liliana Petrova.

21:18 “There’s actually three roles at the front desk.”

30:37 EP228 with Julie Rish, PhD.


You can learn more at clientexperiencecompany.com or by emailing Jerry at jerry@jerrydurhampt.com.


@Jerry_DurhamPT discusses #patientengagement and #clinicianteam success on our #healthcarepodcast. #healthcare #podcast #digitalhealth #healthcareleadership #healthcaretransformation #healthcareinnovation


Recent past interviews:

Click a guest’s name for their latest RHV episode!

Kate Wolin, Dr Kenny Cole, Barbara Wachsman, Luke Slindee, Julie Selesnick, Rik Renard, AJ Loiacono (Encore! EP379), Nina Lathia, Marshall Allen, Stacey Richter (INBW39)


frontdesk,outcomes,patient engagement,patient journey,providers,value-based care,