Patient Access Goes to the Movies

Imagine you are going to the newest installment of the Star Wars franchise. You go online to check out when it’s playing, but can’t find any information on their website other than a number to call. You ring them up and finally after talking to what seems like eleven different people, you are told the times and the different pricing options. The next day, you head down to the theater and are faced with multiple entrances – so you go in the closest one. Of course, this is wrong and after about 30 minutes of being redirected, you end up at the ticket counter. Luckily, the times you were told over the phone are correct, but the pricing is all different – and if you belong to different organizations you get discounts of varying degrees. While complicated, you pick the cheapest option and proceed into the theater.

After an agonizingly long wait, the movie starts – but wait – it’s not Star Wars! Apparently it was changed at the last minute to Star Trek, but since you’re there and wanting to watch a movie – you stay and sit through the movie. As you’re leaving you get stopped at the exit and told that since you had a ticket for Star Wars, not Star Trek – you owe the theater more money. Of course – you were never consulted, so you refuse to pay the difference and go home. Over the next few months you receive calls and letters from the movie theater demanding payment for the incremental cost of the Star Trek ticket. Due to this terrible experience, you promise never to go back – no matter what movie is playing.

Of course – this scenario was made up, no one would put up with any of this in a movie theater, but this is an all too common experience at hospitals. When a patient is scheduled for a procedure the following can happen:

  • Patients are frequently told conflicting pricing information – and often not told any pricing information at all
  • Patients aren’t given information on where to show up, which entrance to use, or at which desk to check-in
  • When a procedure is changed at the time of service, this is often not communicated to the patient or insurance company, which can result in denials and increased rework
  • A patient pays their deductible/co-insurance, believing this is all they owe, and then receives a bill after the procedure

All of these scenarios can potentially reduce patient satisfaction and if given options, patients will seek out alternative facilities with more consistent and more customer-friendly practices. While there are often pieces of the puzzle that are out of control of patient access staff (for example – if the physician performing the procedure determines an additional test needs to be performed), there are a lot of steps that can be taken by front-end staff to increase likelihood that a patient will have a positive experience.

At The Wilshire Group, we have worked with patient access departments in all stages of maturity and have experience moving facilities and systems of all sizes up the maturity curve. We can build a comprehensive plan that will have patients seeking you out as their hospital of choice.

Contact Martin Barker today for more information!

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