Have you heard of the book, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten? While of course it’s imperative that all patient-facing staff have substantially more education beyond kindergarten, there are some simple truths regarding emotional intelligence that everyone learns early in life. Sometimes, though, these can be forgotten in a high pressure and involved arena like healthcare.
Take the following steps to make sure your patient’s financial experience is the best, not just average:
Different departments work together
AKA: Sharing is caring.
Your administrative staff and patient representatives should have cross-training, from the front-end to the back-end of the business office. Instead of shuffling your patients back and forth between the two, educate all of your staff to be able to address patient concerns regarding their billing with confidence and feedback mechanisms to continually improve operations and engagement. Even your clinical staff should be able to provide basic and accurate billing answers because patients will be asking.
Take responsibility for mistakes and learn from them
AKA: Say you’re sorry.
Billing is complicated and mistakes happen. Sometimes it can be a simple demographic error in registration that causes a claim to be denied. These types of errors are particularly frustrating, and they often cause patients to question the whole practice: If they can’t get my middle initial right, how am I supposed to trust them with my healthcare? Train your staff to apologize for errors (not blame), and take the time to provide internal coaching sessions to ensure that errors are not repeated and process or technology gaps are identified and mitigated.
Provide benchmarks and incentives
AKA: Little steps add up to big gains.
Your billing staff wants consistency in expectations and they want to know they are doing a good job. Show your employees reports with trends that you’re tracking in your organization and set goals. What incentive does your staff have to do an outstanding job if they have no idea that the current rate of denials is good (or bad), or that they are only collecting 62% of copayments? Tie the numbers to performance and work on achieving those goals a little bit at a time. Be accountable to their feedback on upstream opportunities to better serve your patients and improve the financial management experience.
The Bottom Line
Your healthcare organization should strive daily to be the best — that’s what your patients and employees deserve. Taking small steps each day to work toward your goals through education, technology improvements, compassion, and analytics will make a big difference in your patients’ lives and the impression they take away after visiting your clinic or hospital.