I recommend that your telephone never ring more than three times before being answered. If the receptionist is on another line or otherwise engaged then one of the other staff should help out.
Ideally you have telephones throughout the office, so if the receptionist is somewhere other than at the front desk when the phone rings, it can still be answered and the caller briefly placed on hold until the receptionist can return to the front desk.
Before transferring a call to the appropriate person, obtain the caller's name, reason for calling and their phone numbers (home/work/mobile). If the call is from an active patient, pull the patient's chart before transferring the call. If the caller is a new patient, fill out the "New Patient Call-In Form" using the appropriate dialogue.
If you have have another employee designated as the Scheduling Coordinator whose main responsibility is ensuring the appointment book is effectively scheduled, all new patient calls should be transferred to her unless she is on the phone with a patient. In that situation, the receptionist should handle the call unless there is also an Accounts Manager or Treatment Coordinator as otherwise if the receptionist is on the phone taking new patient information, she won’t be able to efficiently deal with other calls and patients coming into the practice.
Your receptionist is the coordinator between the front and back office so therefore must be exact when relaying information. The best method for relaying messages is in writing.
The receptionist should always be aware of the schedule. Know which patients will be arriving next, who is in the waiting room, who is in the back, how long they have been in the office, etc. She should walk through the office occasionally to briefly talk to patients who are waiting in order to maintain good communication and ensure everything is going well. If she spots a problem she should handle it yourself or request assistance from someone who can deal with it immediately.