The best medical services, for the best price: This is what patients are looking for, and more so now that healthcare reform is pushing the industry more and more into a quality rated, price driven direction. Gone are the days of low-deductible plans, where negotiations took place between physicians and Payers. With patients taking on more payment responsibility than ever, shopping for healthcare will become the consumers’ experience.So as physicians begin thinking more along the lines of the consumer experience, great customer service and opportunities for retention are becoming more of a priority than ever before.
With this in mind we decided to take a look at physicians who have already excelled in this area to understand the tricks of their trade. Here are some commonalities:
Helping Patients Understand the Confusing World of Health Insurance
Co-pays, deductibles, specialists, benefits…these are all terms, easily understood by experienced patients or consumers of health insurance, but not by many. Practices that go the extra mile to sit down and explain the patient’s benefits line by line and especially what that means for their out of pocket payments, BEFORE services are rendered, will keep loyal patients. There are Patient Estimator Tools that allow practices to print out a detailed chart of benefits, prices for services rendered along with a total out of pocket payment price.
Preventing Long Waits by Pre-Verifying Benefits With Batch Verification
Long wait times for patients can say something about the efficiency of an office. One way long wait times can be eliminated is by pre-verifying benefits before the patient arrives with an
Eligibility Verification Program. With this kind of program, office staff can verify insurance information and benefits in one batch every morning (or the day before) by inputting the information and submitting. They will receive all of the information back within an 20-30 minutes and the patients will be set to go when they arrive. In our busy world, there is nothing worse for patients than spending an extra half hour in a waiting room when they booked an appointment months in advance. Not to mention how much time it saves office staff from verifying benefits over the phone or through individual Payer websites.
Cater to Your Demographic, Be Creative
Depending on medical specialty or geographic location, chances are, your patients are made up of a very specific demographic. Perhaps they are mostly elderly or there is a large Hispanic population in your area. Whatever the case; do special things which make sense for your patients. Print double sided forms with the back in Spanish, offer discounted services to adult patients bringing in their elderly parents, or create a fun and unique experience for children coming in with their parents. Like any other business or industry, the key is in creating a delightful experience for the consumer.
Establish a Web Portal
70 % of patients pay their household bills online- this should tell us something, such as: 1) People are finding it more convenient to pay bills online than through the mail or over the phone. 2) People are already in the habit of doing this 3) You may be more likely to collect payments quicker if patients have the option to pay online and 4) As a result of 1,2, and 3 practices should be giving patients the option to pay online. Providing an
online portal is not just a great feature for patients, but can also have a huge impact on the Practices’ bottom line. by increasing collections and improving cash flow.
Over the next few years, practice managers and physicians will need to shift their perspectives on the healthcare industry to accept its evolution into a competitive business marketplace. As healthcare professionals become savvy business people, they will understand more and more, the need to cater to the consumer. Customer service in healthcare is moving to the top of the priority list.
Physicians by nature want to help people and offering a better consumer experience can have a healing effect on both the practice and the patient.