Medical care providers know all too well that they must collect as much of the fees for their services they can in order to maintain their practice and be able to continue providing high quality care. However, the collection of fees may be the most difficult part of the practice. Patient satisfaction surveys show a direct relationship between overall patient satisfaction and the medical billing services of the medical care provider.
Relationship between medical billing services and patient satisfaction
The results of a two year study conducted by a major health insurer revealed that approximately 70 percent of patients who said they experienced a high degree of satisfaction with their medical care gave equally satisfying marks to the medical billing services of the provider. The high ratings were based primarily on patients feeling that the costs they incurred were clearly explained to them at the actual time the service was provided. The main factors emphasized by the patients that contributed to their satisfactory experience with the medical billing services were:
• Up-front verification of insurance eligibility.
• Provision of an estimation of the patient out-of-pocket costs prior to the provision of services.
• Straight-forward, transparent and easy to understand billing statements.
Two-thirds of the patients surveyed said that satisfaction with the medical billing services affected their assessment of the quality of the health care provided. Those who were unhappy with the billing process ranked their overall health care experience as unsatisfactory.
The survey also showed that patients who have a negative medical billing services experience resist obtaining medical services from any provider, not just the ones they are unhappy with. They put off routine screenings, such as mammograms, and general physical exams. Patient satisfaction with the billing process increases not only the collection process for services rendered, but impact whether or not a patient will return for future services.
Tips for solving medical billing services problems in order to increases patient satisfaction
In another recent survey by another insurer, 81 percent of patients claimed that they were not just unhappy with the medical bills they received, but were very frustrated with the attempts they made to get clarification. They were upset with everyone from the front-office personnel to the physician who provided the services. Some ways to reduce patient dissatisfaction with the billing practices and related dissatisfaction with their medical care include:
• Having a designated professional manage calls from patients who are disgruntled with their bills. The person should be prompt in returning calls if unavailable when the call comes in. Patient questions should be thoroughly and politely answered in detail. The professional should not hang up until the questions have been satisfactory answered.
• Medical professionals who outsource their medical billing services to experienced billing companies find their patients are more satisfied with the process than those who do not. Professional medical billers know the right codes and know how to maximize reimbursement from insurers which assists patients in reducing their out-of-pocket expenses. The bills sent to patients are clear and concise, which is what patient responses to surveys confirm patients want.
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