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Hospital-Based Physicians: 5 Reasons Why Patient Satisfaction is Vital in Today’s Value-Based Environment

Summary:

  1. Patient dissatisfaction costs you money
  2. Communication from patients to your hospital or facility hurts your reputation
  3. Patient satisfaction surveys are already building a case for, or against you
  4. Patients’ control an increasing part of the healthcare spend
  5. Options available to patients for your services continue to expand

Patients are the reason you provide medical services. But interestingly, thinking of patient needs as you consider improvingPatient Satisfaction the vitality of your practice is often a little lower end of a priority list. Here are some credible reasons for moving toward becoming “patient-centric” as you grow and build your hospital-based practice:

1. Patient dissatisfaction costs you money.

Whether you have an In-House billing process or outsource your billing, each patient interaction with your business office uses valuable time and resources. If the administration of your billing and business practices is not efficient, you may be spending much more than you would need to if the process was smooth and patient friendly.

And if it doesn’t cost you directly in dollar/labor terms, it may be costing you even more in “lost opportunity” costs. If your billing process has to allocate extraordinary time to work with disgruntled patients, they are likely to have to allocate that time from other areas vital to keeping your cash flow strong and current such as working denied claims, following up with insurance carriers and other important billing functions.

2. Communication from patients to your hospital or facility hurts your reputation.

Generally, your services were perceived to be provided by your hospital or other healthcare facility you may serve.  If a patient is disgruntled, they are likely to voice their complaints to your hospital’s billing department and the patient or the billing personnel may then escalate these complaints to the administrative staff. Hospital administrators have little patience with physician groups that aren’t responsive and caring to their patients.

While this has always been a frustration to administrators, their hands are no longer tied like they once were.  They are being called on every month by other hospital-based groups wanting to take over your contract and if your patients are letting them know they’re dissatisfied, it’s one more straw that could some day be the last straw.

3. Patient satisfaction surveys are already building a case for, or against you.

Even prior to Accountable Care Organization initiatives and Alternative Payment Models being developed, patient satisfaction surveys were growing in frequency and being relied on more consistently in change management. As such, your profile is already a positive reflection of a great practice or something less. Satisfied patients have a “vote” and you are winning or losing the election every day you practice.

4. Patient’s control an increasing part of the health care spend.

Because of the rapid increase in “patient responsibility” due to perennial increases in higher deductibles and larger patient co-pays, patients’ attitudes and focus on the financial aspect of their healthcare transactions have increased dramatically.

Coupled with that has been increased marketing by healthcare providers and ever increasing pricing transparency. So there has never been a time when patient satisfaction impacted the decision about where a healthcare service or procedure would be performed.

5. Options available to patients for your services continue to expand.

Hospital-based diagnostic practices, like radiology and pathology, are increasingly vulnerable to competition from multiple sources.  Examples include other peer physicians within a geographical proximity, freestanding imaging or labs, geographically distant teleradiology groups and national labs, and other specialties who continuously seek to enhance their revenue by bringing diagnostic services into their own specialty practice.

The more options that patients have to select services, the more vital it is for you to promote strong, healthy relationships with patients that you often never see.  As such, it’s even more critical that you have a great billing process designed with the patient in mind.

 

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