Time to get back to the basics and focus on the patient/ consumer

I recently had a medical procedure in a physician’s office. My experience reaffirmed that we have a long way to go towards the delivery of consumer-oriented healthcare. This is a cultural shift from the traditional physician reference model to a consumer driven decision. Here are some basic suggestions every physician group should test their business against to measure if their practice is consumer oriented.

  • Greet the patient – When a patient arrives at the office, greet them. They are the customer and the reason you go to work in the morning and receive an income.
  • Respect the patient’s time – When a patient arrives at the office on time, take them to the examination room within 10 minutes. Do not leave the patient in the examination room for 30 or more minutes waiting for the physician. Worse, is the physician coming in and leaving the examination room prolonging a visit with unproductive patient treatment time.
  • Medical treatment pre-certification when the patient schedules the procedure – Have your staff pre-certify the procedure with the payer when it is scheduled. If your staff waits to pre-certify the procedure a day or two prior to the appointment, the business office manager will probably be contacting the patient to push the procedure back a few days. The patient scheduled their time to accommodate your availability, and you should reciprocate with mutual respect for the patient’s time.
  • Know your prices – When a patient asks how much a procedure costs, someone should be able to provide a price before the patient leaves the office. If a physician’s office cannot quote a price for a service provided in their office, they don’t understand their business
  • Be able to accept full payment at the conclusion of the visit – If a patient wants to pay cash for service rendered, be prepared to produce an easy to read bill and accept final payment. This is the fastest and lowest cost method of compensation for your services.
  • Thank the patient and ask why they selected you – When you are finished taking care of the patient, thank them for their business. Also, ask the patient why they selected your practice. This will provide insight into where your patients are coming from and shifts in market trends (patient selection instead of physician reference).
  • Survey your patients regarding their experience – An anonymous patient survey after their visit will provide insight into how they perceived their treatment and view your practice.
  • Develop a patient bill of rights – Create a patient bill of rights and teach your staff what it means to have patients and how to treat them consistently with each visit.

In this evolving era of consumer oriented healthcare and social media, physician practices need to get back to the basics of providing patient oriented service. If not, you will find your patients going to the competition down the street. Good paying patients are becoming more vocal and savvy using social media to share their experiences with the community and research who they want to use for medical services. You have to decide where you want to land in a consumer driven market. A practice that receives positive reviews from its patients’ or one that advises others to avoid.

2 comments Add your comment

Joyce Metzer

July 25th, 2012
11:21 am

I agree with everything you mentioned in your article especially remembering that I as the patient am your customer so treat me in that manner. And remember I am a professional with a job whose time is just as important as the nurse, physician, and front desk personnel, if the Doctor is running late tell me when I check-in please.

Bob Wells

July 25th, 2012
2:23 pm

Joyce well stated and to the point. It makes you wonder why such a basic and simple practice isn’t standard instead of the exception.