How do you talk to your patients when it comes to insurance issues?

I wanted to write back and let the rep know that I’m not supposed to know all the work they have to do or is involved in my request.

Customer Service
Customer Service

Last week I contacted the web hosting company we use for our site. I wanted to add a feature to the practice’s website. I received an email back from the company explaining their fees for the extra feature. I felt they were charging too much, so I emailed them to let them know my thoughts as well as asked why the extra feature cost so much.

The next day, I received a patronizing email from the rep stating, if I knew anything-about web marketing and how to increase visibility (with the services they provide), then I would understand the benefits of their service and how it would outweigh the cost. She also mentioned that there was a lot of work in my request and also said their prices were reasonable.

I understand that sometimes email messages can be misinterpreted. One does not have the benefit of tone, facial expressions, etc., but the email felt condescending. My interpretation was, you think our services are too expensive because you have no clue about what we do.

When dealing with customers, one often gets offended because our jobs and companies are very personal to us. I’m guilty of this. When parents complain about my staff, my doctors, my billing department, or anything else, I take it very personal. And in the past, I ended up getting into lengthy – unproductive – discussions with parents. I’ve taken a different approach now.

I wanted to write back and let the rep know that I’m not supposed to know all the work they have to do or is involved in my request. I wanted to ask her, how I am supposed to know how their services would give me a return on my investment.

Why not take the time and show the customer the value in the service you provide? Show him how much the services are worth relative to the price he has to pay. She may have convinced me. Instead, she chose to get personal.

Not only did she miss an opportunity to educate me about her company’s services, but she also missed the opportunity to reach out and establish a connection with me, her client.

I started thinking if our practices treated patients like this. Were we condescending and patronizing? Do we expect patients to “know?”

One area I think practices may fall into this trap is when discussing insurance issues with patients. Fact is most people do not understand their health insurance policies. Patients/parents have heard about co-pays, coinsurances, deductibles and copayments, but they really do not know what it means, why they have these things and how it is going to affect their care.

Despite telling patients it is their responsibility to know what their insurance covers (and does not cover) most people do not bother to find out. They find it confusing. And who can blame them?

Instead of telling patients they ought to known everything about their health insurance coverage (or lack thereof most likely), take the opportunity to educate them. Advise them what they need to do, whom they need to call and what they need to look for in coverage; for example, well visits, preventive care and immunization coverage which is often missing in many insurance policies.

We may not have all the answers and maybe we can’t help patients navigate thru the insurance maze, but if we can find ways to put the “care” back in health care by helping patients with other things outside of their clinical care. We will strengthen our relationship with our customers/patients. Simply put, it is good for business.

The Thing About Perfection Is

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The Vantage Clinical Solutions blog has a great post that talks about perfection and how our pursuit of it often times undermines our ability to become more productive and enjoy ourselves less while working.  

“Those who relentlessly pursue perfection – especially in areas that don’t need it – are destined to slow down, get frustrated, burn out, and eventually quit.  As you might imagine, this helps no one.” 

“Where it’s OK to be less than perfect are those areas that are mean to change and evolve over time – those areas that it’s really not possible to get right on the first try anyway; areas such as marketing messages, productivity, optimal workflow, and so on.”

As you think about a new policy, a new advertising piece, or a new postcard, remember that it does not have to be perfect the first time out of gate. It may take you a few times to get it right. Nevertheless, do not let your pursuit of perfection hold you back.