What images come to mind when you think about “customer service” in the physician’s office? Typically, most people picture front-desk staff greeting patients or answering phones. But, I believe, effective customer service should begin before a patient ever arrives at the office, and should include financial
discussions as well as clinical ones.
I worked helping practices with physician billing and collections issues for nearly 25 years. Over that time, I came to appreciate that customer service, patient satisfaction, and reimbursement are all somewhat intertwined. The more you proactively communicate with patients upfront, the higher the back-end satisfaction on the part of patients and reimbursement staff alike.
Here’s what I suggest: Prior to a patient’s arrival in your office—especially if the patient is new to your practice—reach out to discuss your payment policies and expectations. Offer it as a courtesy so that patients are better aware of their out-of-pocket costs.
Such a call, of course, entails knowing a patient’s insurance coverage, co-pay, and other financial details. Practices that have real-time or batch eligibility tools can utilize them to verify insurance information prior to the patient arriving for their appointment. Practices without eligibility verification can simply state, “As a courtesy, we will have someone contact you prior to your appointment to review your insurance and payment information.”