8 Intuitive Ways Doctors Can Keep Their Patients Happy
Let’s face it no one likes surprises. Why then do most medical practices wait until the patient has been treated and left the practice before informing them that the insurance has rejected their claim and they (the patient) are now responsible for the financial obligation?
Nothing could be more backwards.
There is a recent practice that doctors have been employing to ensure that they are paid no matter what and frankly it is irritating to patients. It begins with the desk attendant asking the patient to update their file and at the same time to sign a form accepting full responsibility for complete payment. The doctor’s form states something like “Insurance coverage is a contract between the patient and the insurance company – not the insurance company and the doctor. We (the doctor) provide you (the patient) with the convenience of using your insurance”.
The patient doesn’t get an estimate – they are simply called in and for all they know it could cost hundreds or thousands of dollars. The patient is blindsided!
A patient has been given the impression that by joining a specific Healthcare or Insurance network their doctor belongs to, that they are covered with the exception of the deductible. Does your practice want to add to patient angst and an already tenuous patient/insurance relationship by saying “hey that’s your business, you figure it out”.
It is at this point that things can get real sideways. A patient shows up for an appointment made weeks in advance for a specific treatment or consultation. Between the time of the appointment and when the patient arrives for the appointment insurance coverage can change. Posting a sign on the wall mentioning that practice policy is to expect payment at the time of service may not be the best way to handle unexpected patient financial responsibilities.
Can you imagine if most service business/customer relationships were run this way?
Avoiding the pitfalls of such a situation is easy if you look at it from the patient’s perspective, deal them with respectfully, and with a full service approach. Make it easy for them and they will be your patient forever and better yet refer patients by the dozens.
Here are a few easy and immediate processes your practice can implement to improve patient satisfaction and practice profitability.
1 – Provide the patient with a document clearly explaining the process your practice employs to process a claim to insurance carriers. Detail how responsibility is determined, process time cycles, as well as the payment process for denials. Transparency helps the patient understand that your practice is looking out for their well-being eliminating frustration.
2 – Educate the practice personnel on the best ways to handle the “patient unknowns”. If you don’t know where to start, use customer surveys. This act alone conveys a sense of concern for the patient’s well being.
3 –Keep appointments on schedule. Nothing is more important than letting patients know that you value their time as much as they do. And if you are running behind keep patients informed by developing a calling and/or social media (text or tweet) plan to contact them in advance. Remember no one likes surprises.
4 – Pre-certification follow-up is important. A pre-certification isn’t a guaranteed payment.
5 – Offer patients an on-line alternative to filling out forms in the office. Let them visit your website, download and print out forms to complete at home prior to an appointment.
6 – Use your web site to help educate patients. If a patient has access to information regarding their particular case and can read it in a relaxed friendly environment at home you’re killing two birds with one stone. Befriend the patient, propagate trust and at the same time educate them. You could even offer an option for patients to email pre- appointment questions!
7 – Pay attention to details. Understand the staffing and technology issues in your practice. Improving patient relations, patient flow and patient volumes translates into a predictable environment and practice stability. Ultimately, increased patient satisfaction and increase practice profitability.
8 – If you don’t know where to start or have the staff begin by visiting www.crtmedical.com or calling me, David Doyle @ 248.679.1700. We’ve been in this business for over 30 years and we can help you develop a great practice all while helping you do what you always wanted to do – be a great doctor.