Patient satisfaction is more important than ever, but pleasing folks is becoming seemingly harder to do. Some hospitals have tried everything to improve their patient relations, done everything by the book, retrained, but they still might be dealing with dissatisfied patients. There are a few things you can do that you may not have considered.
Be a Good Listener
You can put as many best practices in your guidelines as you want, but if your Accounts Receivable representative isn’t a good listener, it may be a lost cause. It’s very important that anyone working with patient customers—and trying to close the revenue cycle—understand how to listen, understand, and work with people. Many patients may be as frustrated as you are that they’re having difficulty paying their bills, or simply may not understand their situation. Being a good listener allows the representative to pick up on clues that can carry the conversation forward—something that no scripted caller would ever be able to do.
Ask Open Ended Questions
It’s very easy to ask very simple questions, like, “Do you understand the bill that we sent you?” But open-ended questions allow the patients to give more thoughtful, detailed answers, which can in turn help the representative discover the real questions they need to answer. Underlying reasons—that the patient may be embarrassed to talk about—can come to light through the right kinds of questions.
Provide Educational Resources
Many doctors hand out pamphlets to their patients when they tell them about a specific ailment they may have, and the reason for that is simple: many patients gloss over when they hear that they have a disease or illness. It takes them off guard, and they may not hear what the doctor is telling them. The educational resource is a sure way to give them the info they need to take home and to make informed decisions.
The same situation applies to financial responsibilities. Many patients and their families may well be focused on simply getting home and getting readjusted. They may simply not hear or understand what their responsibilities are. Educational resources, as well as follow up calls once things have calmed down, can help build patient rapport—and help them understand their responsibilities for payment.
Let Them Vent
Sometimes, patients are going to get upset, and it’s very easy to get upset right back at them. What is the best way to satisfy a patient in a situation like that? Let them vent. Let them get all of their complaints out of their system, and then calmly explain to them what their options are. Ultimately, they should know what their responsibilities are if you’ve done your due diligence in educating them. But after they have an opportunity to complain, they’ll be satisfied that you heard them. Interrupting them will only make the situation worse, and make it more unlikely that they’ll pay.
If you have questions about patient satisfaction and managing your hospital’s revenue cycle, contact HCM today.