Does Your Clinic or Healthcare Organization Live and Breathe What You Put in Writing?

September 22, 2012

I was recently at a physician’s office and in the waiting room was a framed copy of the following:

Patient Bill of Rights

As a patient of our Clinic, you have the right to considerate and respectful treatment from all staff members of the Clinic.

  • You have the right to information you can understand on your condition, treatment and progress.
  • You have the right to refuse treatment to the extent permitted by law, and the right to be informed of the alternatives and consequences of refusing treatment.
  • You have the right to expect reasonable confidentiality of all records and communication about your medical care.
  • You have the right to request a copy of your medical records. (A fee may apply.)
  • You have the right to request an explanation of your bill.
  • You have the right to know the name and role of your attending physician and any other caregiver(s) participating in your care.
  • You have the right to be well-informed about your illness, possible treatments and likely outcomes and to discuss this information with your physician in a manner which you can understand.
  • You have the right to receive information about any proposed treatment or procedure in order to make an informed decision whether to consent to or refuse a course of treatment. Except in emergencies, this information shall include the purpose and description of the procedure, probably result, significant risks and alternate courses of treatment.
  • You have the right to actively participate in decisions regarding medical care, including managing pain effectively.

When I see this and other mission-type statements by healthcare organizations, I often wonder if the organization really lives and breathes their vision, values, and/or mission on a daily basis. I also wonder if management knows the difference between real action and inaction.

Well there’s a way to find out – simply survey your organization’s owners and employees. Did you realize that most statements like the one above and other mission statements can be turned in to a simple questionnaire? Here are a few examples of how you can break down the Patient Bill of Rights into questions:

  • Do we provide considerate and respectful treatment to all of our patients?
  • When asked by a patient, do we provide information he or she can understand concerning their condition, treatment and progress?
  • Do we hold confidential of all the records and communications about any patients’ medical care?
  • When asked by a patient, do we provide a timely explanation of their bill and do we provide it in a courteous manner?
  • Do we encourage patients to become actively involved in decisions regarding their medical care?

You get the point. Create your questionnaire, give it to your owners and employees, and see if their answers support whether or not you are in fact living, breathing, and achieving what you say you’re supposed to be doing in your mission statement – you just might be surprised by the answers.

Reed Tinsley, CPA is a Houston-based CPA, Certified Valuation Analyst, and Certified Healthcare Business Consultant. He works closely with physicians, medical groups, and other healthcare entities with managed care contracting issues, operational and financial management, strategic planning, and growth strategies. His entire practice is concentrated in the health care industry. Please visit

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