I think it’s safe to say that anyone in the healthcare industry is aware of patient satisfaction surveys and their importance. At least remotely. That doesn’t mean you know what kind of information those surveys try to collect and maybe you’re not fully aware of what makes the surveys so important.
But the point is, you’re aware of these surveys and patient satisfaction in general.
Patient satisfaction surveys inform both facilities and legislative healthcare entities like the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) of facility performance—in what areas the facility and its staff and processes excel and where they fall short. In effect, patient satisfaction is a measuring stick that determines when and how things need to change.
Now what if I told you that even though you’re not directly involved with patient surveys, you’re still directly affecting the results they generate?
I recently read an article that was first published by Becker’s Healthcare back in 20111. In it, a chief strategy officer in the medical industry pointed out that money and health are two of the biggest trigger points for stress. So of course it makes sense that the processes we manage in the business office directly affect patient satisfaction—we’re dealing with the financial aspect of patients receiving the care they need to stay healthy.
The truth is, there are a lot of seemingly little things business office teams and revenue cycle managers can do to positively affect patient satisfaction. Here are a few to think about.
We’ve written many times on this blog about the importance of upfront collections. Believe it or not, consistently collecting payments upfront and informing the patient of their full financial obligation can go a long way toward keeping them happy. Why? Because when you tell them today what they’ll owe tomorrow, they can prepare and plan and you both avoid the element of surprise. Nobody wants to be surprised when it comes to personal expenditures.
Be Honest and Solution Oriented
Hand-in-hand with managing expectations is this: be honest. Sometimes you’ll have to tell people things they don’t want to hear—they owe more money, their insurance doesn’t apply, the hospital made a mistake—but it’s in your best interest and theirs to be transparent. Of course, once you’ve explained all that needs telling, the patient will look to you for a solution. Be ready. Approach these encounters armed with as much information as you can get, then anticipate the patient’s questions or concerns and have some initial suggestions for how you can move the process forward together.
Just remember what mom taught you. Seriously. Be pleasant. Say “please” and “thank you”. Attitude is everything when it comes to letting the patient know they’re more than a case number to you. Your manners and personal conduct will likely be remembered when the patient at hand is completing a survey or spreading word to friends and family. Make it count.