When you are shopping for a new product or service, your goal is to get the best value for your investment, right? Well, your patients have the same goal. As their out-of-pocket costs increase, they are beginning to spend more time shopping for providers. As with any other service, patients will be more likely to continue to return to your practice if they feel like they are receiving real value for their dollars. They are not likely to continue to spend money with your healthcare organization if they are not satisfied with the service, or feel like just another number.
So how can you maintain your patient base?
Increase your engagement with your patients throughout their entire experience, from pre-service to post-service, by making a shift from volume to value. Instead of treating each patient like a number, create a personalized experience that will leave them feeling cared for and valued. Of course with so many changing regulations, a full schedule of patients each day, and system limitations, this can be difficult. But making a few changes to your processes can improve patient satisfaction and maintain patient relationships, and it only requires shifting time and energy to different parts of the process. Read on for a few simple tips to follow to improve the process for your patient from beginning to end.
Typical pre-registration practices include gathering only the basic demographic and insurance information on a patient. Your practice may have all the information it needs to schedule the patient, but they are left with many questions about what to expect. Gathering additional information on their deductibles and copays, any secondary payment options available, and even prospectively calculating their out-of-pocket costs and discussing payment plan options prior to their appointment will ensure there are no unexpected surprises for the patient at the time of service.
Instead of just collecting a copay and handing over a clipboard, continue to add value to the patient experience at the time of service by confirming the payment agreement you have already discussed prior to service, providing other alternative payment options, and answering any additional questions they may still have. If possible, provide a balance estimate based upon services rendered and their deductible status, or even a bill, at or soon after the time of service. The patient will already expect the balance since you discussed it with them prior to service, and have already agreed to terms of payment.
The patient's experience does not end when they leave the practice. Often post-service is the most stressful time for a patient because they are now faced with paying the bill. If you have the proper pre- and at time of service procedures in place, the patient should receive a statement that verifies what you have already discussed with them. Best practices dictate that you should follow up with them early, by phone, to ensure they do not have any questions or concerns.
With offices short staffed, software changes and high patient volumes it can be difficult not to treat all patients the same. Following these simple tips at each stage of the patient experience may take a little more time up front, but it will reduce the number of questions and complaints from patients during and after service. Your practice may also experience a reduction in collection efforts and costs as well as fewer past-due balances as a result of setting up more payment plans with better informed patients.
For more tips on collecting from patients and providing a quality patient experience, check out our blog and free resources!
Written by Ali Bechtel, Public Relations Coordinator
This information is not to be construed as legal advice. Legal advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case. Although we attempt to provide up-to-date information, laws and regulations often change. We make no claims, promises, or guarantees about the accuracy or completeness of this document. For legal advice, please consult an attorney.