Patient satisfaction and payment go hand-in-hand. Many orthopedic practices separate the two things - customer service/patient care and billing. Often staff members who handle the care of the patient don't participate at all with issues of billing or insurance.
Having separate departments handle different ends of the administrative needs can be excellent for the organizational flow of the office. However, it's important that you always keep the patient's needs in mind. The physician might not want to work hands-on with billing. But if a patient should ask about the cost of a procedure or other issues, it's something that should be addressed immediately.
Ideally, you want your practice to treat the overall health and well being of the patient. Dealing with patients as the healthcare consumer, with customer satisfaction being a high priority, improves their experience in your orthopedic practice. It can also improve your payment cycles. Here are five ways to better serve your patients.
Five Ways to Improve the Patient Experience in Your Orthopedic Practice
- Friendly, Helpful Front Desk Experience. The front desk experience can't be overestimated. Your patients will often spend more time with the front of the office staff and, hopefully, build a relationship they trust here. In most offices, your front desk does everything from scheduling appointments to taking pertinent information. They'll be the face your patient sees when they call the office to ask questions or when they arrive for their visit. Quality patient care and friendly customer service need to be a top priority for your front office staff.
- Transparent Billing. To alleviate the stress and worry from billing, it's important the patient has answers to all of their questions. They should be able to budget upcoming bills and be fully aware of what their out of pocket responsibility will be for future treatments. This allows the patient less stress in budgeting their payments and improves your own billing cycle.
- Online Patient Portal. Online patient portals offer a convenience that many patients simply won't do without. Many of your current healthcare consumers pay the majority of their bills online. They use their smartphones to conduct business and rarely, if ever, write checks. Create an online patient portal where they can access their records, doctors notes, schedule upcoming appointments, and pay their current balance. You can still collect payment and schedule the old fashioned way for patients who are tech-phobic, but you'll likely find the majority of your patients prefer to use the portal.
- Assess Your Facility. In order to improve satisfaction, you need to take a full inventory of your protocol. This means looking at the way your practice runs with an unbiased eye. Even better, make sure to look at the way the practice runs from the vantage point of the patient. You can ask patients to leave feedback and should pay attention to their comments regularly. You should also evaluate the practice from top to bottom - everything from accessibility and parking to convenience in scheduling and payment.
- Streamline Your Appointments. Every satisfaction survey lists wait times as one of the top things to bring down patient satisfaction. If you constantly run behind on appointments, it might be time to reassess how you're scheduling them. You might possibly need to cut down a few patients in a day. Or you might benefit from hiring an extra person to help with charting and transcribing notes to free up the patient consultation time.
There are fantastic programs to help your practice better track overall production and administrative issues. Your EHR and patient portal can streamline the processes for billing and charting. But the most valuable tool your practice has to increase patient satisfaction is a friendly, committed staff.