Funny thing about people. When they are happy with your service, they don’t mind paying for it. When they are dissatisfied, they will delay or refuse payment by a much greater percentage. Check out the graph below.
This graph, along with the article referenced, show that satisfaction with your business office is a key to getting paid on-time, and in some cases, at all. Knowing this is the case, what can we do to ramp up patient satisfaction with our business office and billing process? Here are some ideas.
Hire Happy People and Pay Them Well. Let’s face it, grumpy, dissatisfied people have contagious attitudes. We take such care to be sterile and cautious on the medical side of things so we don’t come into contact with communicable disease. But then we allow diseased attitudes to pervade our workplaces and infect our patients.
On the other hand, upbeat, service-oriented people have contagious attitudes as well. Staff that bring a sunny disposition to work each day are worth whatever extra it costs to keep them. Your patients will be more likely to engage with happy people. They will have their questions answered and pay in a timely fashion.
So, let’s be blunt. Find a way to move your grumpy folks to non-patient-facing positions. Put your best, most compassionate and friendly folks in front of your patients. It may take some slick planning and restructuring on your part but the benefits of increased patient satisfaction, faster payments, and lowered staff stress will make it worth it.
Be Transparent With Pricing and Insurance Coverage. If you do any reading in healthcare administration you are probably tired of hearing about transparency. So, I’ll leave it at this – ignore transparency and clear estimates of cost at your own peril. You may not suffer in the short term, but your patients will find somewhere else to go in the long term.
Follow Up With Patient Satisfaction Surveys. How do you know if patients are happy if you don’t ask them? Be specific with questions about your business office. Ask specific question about the process, the costs, the service, the insurance explanations, the estimates, the statements, and any other detail you think can help you improve.
The idea is to make incremental improvements over time based on frequent patient feedback. Don’t make rash moves based on one person’s opinion (unless it’s an obvious improvement) but rather act on issues that come up repeatedly.
Prepare Your Staff To Adjust To The Changing Game. A good coach prepares his or her players to adapt to the team they are facing in the present game. Much like that, your staff is facing a different game than they have in the past. And it’s changing all the time. Your coaching should be preparing them to adapt, improve, and win. A staff that is slow or reluctant to change will cripple your chances for success in managing your office. Your medical staff will suffer if you can’t bring your business staff to improve.
Paying attention to patient satisfaction is an all-around effort. Everyone on your staff should be ‘in the game’ and excited about improving relationships with patients. If you feel you’ve got a lackluster or even adverse relationship with your patients, take the time to evaluate what steps you can take to start to improve. Don’t try to change things overnight. Your staff will revolt. Incremental improvements over time will get you to the place you need to be.
Let this be the catalyst to make a start. You can win patient’s hearts and solve your late pay problems with just a few simple efforts. We wish you good success!