1. First Visit Handout
The first visit to a new provider can be filled with anxiety for a patient. A patient’s worries may be concerning a medical condition, financial responsibilities or just the natural anxiety of meeting a new doctor. Easing their anxiety can be as simple as providing them simple answers to questions they may have or providing basic information about your medical practice. Be sure to include the following information:
- Patient welcome message
- An introduction to the medical practice
- A brief bio of each physician
- What they should expect from their first examination
- Contact information
- Hours of operation
- Services provided
- Other locations
Patients and their families must take an active role in their healthcare by knowing what they are responsible for. One responsibility is to bring important information to facilitate the registration process or to assist the physician in providing the best treatment. There are 10 things a patient should bring whenever they present to your office for treatment.
- Insurance Information
- Photo ID
- Responsible Party/Information
- Demographic Information
- Clinical Information
- Emergency Contacts
- Accident Information
- Advance Directives
3. Payment Policy
Making sure patients are aware of your payment policy from the very beginning is one way to avoid confusion later. Patients are more likely to pay their medical bills when they are advised of the financial expectations of the medical office. Also include information about your financial assistance program, if you have one.
Be sure to include the following information in your payment policy:
- Co-pays, deductibles and co-insurance amounts are due prior to services being rendered for each visit
- Self-pay patients are responsible for paying the entire amount in full
- Acceptable forms of payment such as personal checks, credit cards and debit cards
- Late fees for billed amounts not paid within a certain time frame
- Charges for missed appointments not cancelled or rescheduled in advance
- A list of participating insurance companies
- Patients must provide proof of insurance prior to treatment or be considered self-pay
Health care providers have an obligation to provide their patients with a Notice of Privacy Practices. This notice, as required by the HIPAA Privacy Rule, gives patients the right to be informed about their privacy rights as it relates to their protected health information (PHI).
Before the first treatment of a patient, providers must present the notice before services are performed except in emergency situations. Patients must sign a written acknowledgement that they have received the notice of privacy practices. The main objective of the notice of privacy practices is to notify patients of their rights and how to exercise those rights. The notice should describe certain information in easy to understand terms:
- How the provider will use and disclose their PHI
- The rights patients have regarding their own PHI
- A statement informing the patient of laws requiring the provider to maintain the privacy of their PHI
- Who patients can contact for further information regarding the provider's privacy policies
5. Patient Satisfaction Survey
There is only one way to know how well the medical office staff and physicians provide patient care - just ask. Giving out patient satisfaction surveys to each and every patient that visits your medical office always you to assess how effectively your processess and staff are performing.
In order to determine if your medical office has a smooth patient flow, find out the answers to the following questions:
- Was the patient spoken to with respect when calling in for an appointment?
- Was the patient greeted by the receptionist with courtesy and respect?
- How long did the patient wait to see the doctor?
- Did the nurse and doctor explain the details of the services provided to the patient?
- Did the nurse and doctor answer all the patient's questions?
- Did the patient receive excellent customer service?
- Was the exam room clean, comfortable and prepared?
- Was the waiting area safe, clean and spacious?