One major complaint that patients have regarding the total experience and impression about their office visit is related to patient billing. Many health care professionals view patient satisfaction as the patient's clinical experience but patient satisfaction involves every interaction that the medical office has from the time the appointment is scheduled until the patient's bill is paid in full.
Striving for successful patient billing communication is important to achieving excellent patient satisfaction results. If your medical office is suffering in this area, here are 3 simple ways to improve patient billing communication.
As everyone knows, first impressions are lasting ones. The first impressions your customers receive about your medical practice are often from your office staff making them crucial to the success of your organization. Not only is it important for the staff to have certain professional skills and strengths, it is imperative that they understand that patient lives are reliant on the quality of their work.
There are four phases for recruiting the most favorable medical office staff.
- Phase 1: Creating the Job Description - Once the decision has been made to begin recruiting staff for an existing job or if the position is a new one, creating the job description is the first step in developing an effective recruitment plan. The job description is important because it describes the details of the position and should reflect everything that is essentially required or needed to measure each candidate in order to make the best selection.Read more
- Phase 2: Developing the Recruiting Process - The job description is complete and you think you are ready to move forward in the hiring process but there are several things to consider before posting the position. Finding candidates, especially in the medical field that sometimes requires highly qualified professionals takes planning. Read more
- Phase 3: Identifying a Pool of Qualified Candidates for Selection - Now that planning is complete, post the position. Based on the planning in phase 2, you are prepared to begin accepting applications. At this critical point of recruiting, it is time to select and identify a pool of qualified candidates to interview from the pool of applicants. Read more
- Phase 4: Recruit One of the Finalists - At this point in the recruiting process, you should have reduced your pool of qualified candidates to one to two finalists. If you have selected a panel or committee to assist in the final decision, then this is the time to meet and gather the recommendations for the final decision. Read more
When emphasis is placed on finding ways to improve front end processes, the medical office staff becomes more effective at helping patients understand their financial obligations. Performing a work flow and productivity assessment of your medical office staff is essential to streamlining processes and will naturally improve performance. When evaluating your current processes consider the following:
- Insurance Verification: As soon as the appointment is made, the patient’s insurance information needs to be verified.Because insurance information can change at anytime, even for regular patients, it is important that the provider verify the member’s eligibility each and every time services are provided. There are many benefits to obtaining insurance verification prior to the patient's arrival.
- Training and Development: The strength of your team depends on how much effort you place in training and development. Obtain positive results for your organization by developing a policy to strengthen your medical office staff. It is especially important that your medical office staff understand the basics of health insurance and proper upfront collection techniques to enhance billing communication with patients. Provide your staff with scripts or other performance support tools, or job aids to help them succeed.
- Financial Policy: Re-evaluate your current financial policy. Does it cover all areas of the revenue cycle? Is it patient friendly? Is it understood by the medical office staff? The success of any health care facility depends on the strength of the medical office's financial policy. Establishing a financial policy guarantees the ability of the organization to continue to provide excellent health care to your patients.
3. Communicate Effectively with Patients
Accuracy and consistency is the number one way to communicate the patient billing policy for your medical office. When patients become familiar with the processes you have in place through repetitive reinforcement, over time a certain level of understanding can develop. The best way to approach patient education is through positive communication with patients and their families.
- Continue to inform patients of their financial responsibility prior to each visit.
- Provide patients with a list of things to bring with them each visit.
- Rather than waiting until the collections stage of the revenue cycle, take advantage of discussing financial issues and collecting patient payments early in the process. Develop a winning upfront collection policy
- Simplify patient bills to improve patient understanding of billing and collection materials.