As the healthcare panorama shifts from a fee-for-service model to a more value-based care-giving approach. The question is how do you improve the medical billing experience for your patients. Healthcare practitioners and their staff are continually progressing towards achieving the optimum value-based care approaches. However, the billing process still falls short and essentially is a domain that is still a work in progress. It’s no surprise then that more often that not, patients end up dissatisfied with the invoicing and patient billing.
If a patient calls asking for directions to your practice, either yourself or the receptionist can help them. If they have a concern about an exercise or show up with a pesky cough, the doctor can give them an answer.
But what happens if that patient calls to ask about a charge on his latest statement? In many practices, that call ends unresolved or with a promise that someone will call the patient back.
All to common medical billing issues.
If you take the time and ask your family and friends. It’s likely that more than one of them can tell a story about an unpleasant billing issue or experience. Ranging from spending months to get an incorrect charge removed from a bill. Or fighting an inappropriate medical aid claim rejection. And worst of all repeatedly being promised a return call that never comes.
Allowing patients to get caught in the red tape of your medical billing process, is a surefire way to sour their overall experience of your practice. No matter howmuch they love the treatment they receive from yourself or your staff. Patients who get the runaround when it comes to billing are certainly not likely to recommend your practice to a friend.
The source of the medical billing problem.
It is clear that billing issues, can impact patient experiences. So resolving them should be important to every employee in the practice. From the practitioner to the front desk. But the question remains, why is it so common for those calls to be dodged or passed off to someone else?
There are countless reasons but the most common is lack of training or understanding. There is a culture at the moment where employees are trained to take responsibility for their own work. This results in them not feeling comfortable answering questions about a bill processed by a coworker.
It also doesn’t help that your administrative staff are usually busy taking care of their own duties. So when they answer a patient billing issue call, they might be able to give the call the full attention it deserves. This results in a feeling from your patients that they are against your practice in a battle for a medical billing resolution.
Sometimes all a patient might need is an explanation on why something costs as much as it does. But patients won’t feel that their healthcare practitioner has their interests at heart, when it takes repeated requests to get a question answered.
How to put an ally on the patient’s side.
Some practices have a dedicated accounts person who is responsible for all billing related queries. This will ensure that rather than those calls being avoided they are directed to the go-to person. This results in faster turnaround times for billing queries and greater patient satisfaction with the medical billing experience.
However, it is not enough to have a designated person for those concerns. You need to make sure that the rest of your administrative team can cover the calls when your go-to person is unavailable. Educate your onsite staff to answer at least 80% of patient questions. Your receptionist should not look like a deer in the headlights when a patient inquires about their bill.
Providing a good medical billing experience is as important to your practice, as providing good healthcare. Just as you would not let a patient’s question about their health go unanswered, you shouldn’t let their billing issues go untended. It is vital that the patient experience is consistent across all aspects of the practice.