For many hospitals and healthcare facilities, patient satisfaction has recently become a higher priority. As the healthcare and insurance markets continue to evolve, patients are making more informed decisions, basing where they choose to seek medical care not only on the provisions of their network, but also on where they believe they’re being treated best.
However, there are more reasons to prioritize patient satisfaction than simple retention. In many situations, a satisfied patient is more likely to pay bills on time and in full, meaning less bad debt for the hospital’s accounts receivable department to deal with. This can be encouraged using a number of strategies.
At the core, many patients aren’t familiar with the world of healthcare billing. Unless they have a specific medical need, they aren’t going to a hospital (and in turn aren’t being billed by one). In many cases, their insurance may take on the bulk of the payment and they’re left with only a copay. Usually a provider must bill the insurance company before the balance due on the part of the patient can be determined, meaning when a patent leaves after receiving services, it’s a mystery to all involved just how much they’ll need to pay out of pocket.
In situations like these, it’s important to remember that a patient may not know or understand the billing process—they’re released and never spoken to about billing. By educating the patient about both the system and what to expect when bills start to show up, you have a patient who is better prepared to pay off any outstanding balances. In addition, the patient will feel respected and valued.
For patients, visiting hospitals and other medical centers entails a lot of waiting: waiting in the waiting room, waiting for the physician in the exam room, waiting for test results, waiting for prescriptions to be filled. In some cases, like the need to see a specialist, the patient may not even be able to make an appointment for several days. However, a new patient satisfaction strategy that some clinics are enacting allows patients to come in same-day. Granted, there are some restrictions to that rule, but it helps patients feel more valued as customers of the medical facility. If they feel as though they’ve been seen and treated in a timely manner, they’re more likely to pay in a timely manner as well.
Many patients that come through hospital doors aren’t sure what’s happening, either in their own bodies or around them. The medical world can feel dense—and sometimes scary—for someone who’s not familiar with it, and most won’t ask clarifying questions. A strategy that some hospitals are employing is using simpler language to communicate with patients. Instead of speaking in medical and insurance lingo, try using more normal terms to help patients understand not only what they’re going through, but also what’s expected of them after they leave the facility, both in terms of self-care and remittance for services.
Simple, clear language helps ensure that a patient knows and understands their responsibilities in the payment cycle. Mutual understanding between the two parties helps ensure patients know why and when their payments are due, and makes them more likely to return for future medical needs.