February 03, 2015
Area(s) of Interest: Patient Care Practice Management
As practices begin to schedule patients for their annual check-ups, remember that conducting an internal practice check-up is equally important. This is the first in a series of articles aimed at highlighting key areas practices should examine in an effort to improve practice performance.
This month we focus on how clear, proactive patient communication can have a positive impact on both patient and practice satisfaction.
Many practices take the important step of confirming patient appointments ahead of time. However, if you’re not also taking the time to inform your patients about any outstanding balances, copays, deductibles or coinsurance that will be due at the time of their appointment, you’re missing out on a big opportunity.
Proactively communicating with your patients about any balances due at the time of service helps to set expectations and prevent disputes at the receptionist desk. Additionally, failure to collect amounts due at the time of service can be very costly for a practice, as the ability to collect can decrease significantly after patients leave the office.
If you use an automated appointment confirmation system, identify those patients who have balances due and consider pulling them from the automated system and, instead, call them personally. Contacting the patient personally can help in several ways:
- The practice is able to clarify any changes to eligibility or insurance coverage prior to the patient’s visit, which decreases time required for patient check-in by the front office staff.
- Patients are able to discuss financial or coverage concerns individually with a practice representative rather that at the front desk or in front of other patients, which helps to keep the office running smoothly and calmly.
- Patients who receive individualized communication are more likely to refer other patients to the practice.
Remember, every interaction with your patients is a reflection on the practice – a positive patient experience goes a long way. Taking these proactive steps to educate your patients prior to their visit, respond to their questions and alleviate any potential points of contention at the time of service can increase patient satisfaction levels, reduce the stress level of practice staff and ultimately save the practice money. Happy patients…happy practice!