A satisfied patient means many things, like healthier patients in the long run, patient retention and loyalty, and better reputation. In this new world of shop-around healthcare, even a single happy, satisfied patient can make a world of difference in the day to day operations of a hospital. Above all things, perhaps, is that a satisfied patient is more likely to pay their outstanding balances on time, allowing hospitals to more efficiently manage their revenue cycles. But what leads to a satisfying patient experience? Consider some of the following.
To patients, hospitals are scary. There’s the compounding stress of what they may be dealing with physically, but there’s also the fact that most patients don’t understand the medical lingo that gets tossed around. They may not know exactly what an ordered test is testing for, or why a specific procedure may (or may not) actually help their condition.
Costs factor into this as well. Most patients have no clue how much tests and other procedures at hospitals cost, or if they can afford any out of pocket costs they accrue after their insurance has had their say. And many patients don’t know if they’re allowed to ask about the costs of procedures.
Be up front, clear, and honest about tests, procedures, and the costs associated with them. It will help patients feel more informed and allow them to make educated decisions about the route they take to their health.
Patients and their families aren’t always provided with the best information about their experiences. They may be kept waiting an inordinately long period of time without any updates or information, or simply kept in the dark about when a procedure may take place, or why there are any hold ups. Similarly, there’s sometimes a breakdown in communication when it comes to discussing bills and self pay.
Medical billing can be difficult for patients to understand. In dealing with their insurance, they may not always get the clearest answer about why they owe what they owe. Hospitals and, specifically, the accounts receivable departments can take great strides in building patient satisfaction by walking patients through their billing. If you can make them understand why they owe something, then help them figure out how they’re going to pay it, and you’ll have a lifelong advocate for your hospital.
Sometimes, patients can be overbearing and difficult to deal with. They may threaten or yell. In some cases, it may be that they’re simply difficult. In many other cases, though, remember that patients are dealing with a great amount of stress. They’re struggling to deal not only with their ailment, but also the costs of treatment and perhaps missing work.
Have patience when explaining complicated billing matters to patients. If you offer payment plans, take the time to explain what each plan offers, or how you can set it up to make it work the best. Use language that won’t scare them up front (veer away from words like “collections,” for example), and simply be patient as you help them through this.
Patients may be disagreeable at times, but providing a good patient experience is one of the most valuable services a hospital can provide. If you have questions about how to provide a better patient experience in billing and self pay, contact HCM today to see how we can help.