Patients make up the heart of your office, from the way that you interact with them to the way that they pay for their services. Without patients, you are looking at a loss of money and, potentially, the closing of your practice. This is why you have to focus on patient support at all times. At best, you want to provide as much as possible at all times. Sometimes, you will have to rely on automation and services to provide the support for you. No matter what, you want to ensure that all communication to the patient is as smooth as possible so that he or she has faith in what you do.
How can you make it so that your patients have the financial, emotional, physical, and personal support that they need, but you don’t have to take hours and hours out of your day working with different approaches? There are a few different ways to focus on supporting your patients at all times:
Treat Them Like People
While you might look at them like metrics or numbers a lot of the time, you have to understand that your patients are people. Learn little things about them – like what they do, what their family is like, and what they worry about. Not only will this make everyone more comfortable, but you will also be able to get information more easily as well.
It is too easy to immediately ask a patient to verify his or her insurance from the onset of the appointment. Or to ask about symptoms. But taking an extra ten seconds to ask about a child’s graduation or a new haircut will completely change the situation. You can screen each patient for eligibility within your network while talking about what happened last week at their son’s soccer game. For older people, asking them about grandchildren or showing them how to use your online systems will help to pass the time and maybe even increase their understanding so that next time you don’t’ have to do as much.
Now, you have to make sure that you aren’t being too chatty or asking questions that are too personal. Instead, focus in on asking questions that are friendly chit chat that won’t lead to extremely long conversations.
Use Revenue Cycle Management Systems
Revenue cycle management systems allow you to have a more hands-off approach to your financial services while still ensuring that you get paid. Everything is streamlined into a system that does much of the work for you. The work that the automation doesn’t do can then go to another firm that manages your collections.
The best revenue cycle management systems don’t require any start-up costs from you and won’t change your day-to-day functions too much. Using these systems will also help you to improve your bedside manner and talking to the patient.
Ask About Long Breaks in Care
Longer breaks in care typically show that something happened or there was a problem in someone’s life. This is especially true if the person went to you then didn’t for an extended period of time. It could be that they lost their healthcare, they were afraid to come to the doctor, or they tried out someone else without letting you know. Don’t pry, but asking questions can help you to get information about the emotional, physical, or monetary status of the person. In some cases, this can really help the patient open up to you about problems he or she is facing.
If you believe that your patient needs more support than you can provide, you can use this as an opening to talk about care for specific physical or emotional needs.
Get Your Payments Up Front
Another option that you can use to provide better patient financial support is to require the payments for your services up front. This can help you by eliminating backlogs of information that you have to wade through at a later date. It also ensures that you get paid, which is becoming harder and harder to do.
Receiving payments before a patient leaves your office ensures that you get money and that the money is good – you can deal with any problems right away while the patient is standing there. This dramatically increases the chances of getting a payment at all – there is nothing to slip someone’s mind once he or she leaves your office.
Make sure that your patients know before they come to their appointments that they have to pay upfront – include it in your reminder calls and emails and have a sign in your office.
Providing adequate support to your patients is just a simple way to show that you really do care. With more and more doctors flooding the market at a rapid rate, you must improve the relationship you have with your patients so that they are willing to come back to you.