I first heard about this earlier this year when I met with ZirMed at ANI. Since then, I keep hearing this concept over and over and so it’s finally time for me to create a blog post on the topic. How you bill a patient has a tremendous impact on patient satisfaction and therefore your HCAHP scores.
When you read that, I’m sure you’re thinking “Well duh! Of course it does.” While it’s obvious once it’s stated, I don’t know many organizations that are working to improve their HCAHP scores by improving their patient billing processes. I have seen a lot of programs that look at the patient experience getting checked in, while their in the hospital, and how their discharge goes. Unfortunately, many organizations seem to stop one step short of the finish line. It’s like running 25 miles of a 26 mile marathon. The patient bill is the last mile of that journey.
The final experience a patient has with a hospital is usually when they get the bill from the hospital. There are so many ways this can be a terrible experience for the patient. If the charges are a lot more than what the patient expects, they’ll have a bad experience. If it’s not clear what charges they owe and whether insurance has paid their portion or not, they’ll have a bad experience. If they see the $5 aspirin (yes, that’s representative of charges that don’t make logical sense to the average patient), then it can damage their experience. If there’s no way to pay the bill online, it can leave a bad taste in the mouth for many. If it’s not clear what the bill is charging for, it can cause a bad experience. I could go on, but you get the idea.
All of these issues (and no doubt there are plenty more) have no impact on the care the patient received. In fact, your doctors and nurses could have provided an amazing customer service and literally worked miracles to save the patients life. However, if the billing experience is bad, it can leave a bad taste in their mouth and that will show up when they’re rating your hospital.
No doubt there are plenty of edge cases that we’ll never be able to satisfy. However, there’s a lot more we can do with our medical billing processes to ensure that the experience is a lot better than what it is today. Your HCAHP scores shouldn’t suffer because you didn’t take the time to make your billing process as beautiful as your clinical care.