Welcome to the spring edition of SullivanLuallin's BENCHMARK newsletter! This quarter, Austin Regional Clinic shares recommendations from their senior doctors to new physicians; we spotlight Internal Medicine of Northern Michigan's staff recognition program; tips for collecting payment for self-pay visits; and a regional comparison of patient perception of the doctor's willingness to listen carefully.
Please feel free to forward this newsletter to your friends and colleagues.
- The SullivanLuallin Team
Advice from Upper Classmen|
Recently Austin Regional Clinic, a practice of more than 150
physicians, solicited advice for new physicians from senior doctors who had
been with the practice for years. The following,
in their own words, is a sample of the practical recommendations offered by
these seasoned practitioners.
1. We are professionals and we are running a
business. Remember that clinical
practice is our largest source of revenue and we want our patients to return
when they need healthcare. Except for
habitual abusers, do not punish patients for being occasionally late or treat
them like 7th graders. Try to
stay on time whenever possible.
the diagnosis and/or treatment is uncertain, share your decision-making with
the patient so he or she better understands what and when to report back.
or write families after the death of a patient for acknowledgment and closure.
paid. Flip back through the chart and
address old business. Then code for it.
in communication with your partners. I
learn something new every day. Share
information and pass on important practice-building techniques.
a great nurse who is willing to do extra for the patients and you.
the patient, "What is your primary concern?"
down. When the doctor sits down and
makes eye contact with patients, they feel they are being treated more
respectfully than when the doctor rushes in and stands with his/her head in the
chart or at some computer device.
on time. Long waits in doctors' offices
rival the Post Office for comic strip material.
yourself in your office and your exam room. Ask for advice from your partners about how they handle a particular
thing that doesn't work right. Put a
piece of yourself in each of your exam rooms for your patients to appreciate.
In the Best Practices...|
Spotlight on Internal Medicine of Northern Michigan, PLLC
How can your practice encourage staff members to deliver
star-studded service? One way is to implement a recognition program, like the
team at Internal Medicine of Northern Michigan (IMNM) in Petoskey, MI. This
ten-provider practice developed an internal program "Going the Extra
Mile" (referred to as "GEM"), where co-workers, patients and
physicians can recognize another member of the IMNM team for going above and
beyond on behalf of a patient or in their job duties. Comment cards and
Comment Line messages can result in GEM activity, so the notification method
can vary. Recognition forms are posted on the GEM bulletin board, minus any
identifiable patient data (name, etc.) when appropriate. Says Robert
Farrell, Practice Administrator, "We have randomly drawn from these GEMs for
goody bags/gift certificates at the end of the year, with drawings held at the
annual company Christmas party. It has had a very positive impact within
Q & A: Collecting Payment for Self-Pay Visits|
With so many of our patients out of work and with no
insurance, we've had an upsurge in the number of self pay visits. On occasion, when we bill these patients, we
can't collect. It's frustrating. Do you have any ideas?
Many practices are stuck in the old mindset of sending
the patient a bill for the visit. It's
not surprising that in this economy, the group is left chasing after a patient
who doesn't have the money to pay - or who chooses not to pay. The solution is to collect either all or a
large portion of the fees up front. When
the patient calls to make the
appointment, the scheduler verifies the insurance coverage. If the patient has none, the scheduler simply
says that there is a deposit required at the time of the visit. The amount depends on your specialty and
typical first time charges. This amount can range from
$100-$300. Some practices tell the
patient there is a discount for cash. The hurdle to surmount is the reluctance to ask for payment at time of
service. Don't be shy. Gas stations do it all the time!
Have a question you'd like our team to answer? Email us!
Regional Differences in Patient Perception of the Doctor's Willingness to Listen Carefully
The MGMA-SullivanLuallin patient survey database says something important
about regional differences in scores for patient perceptions of the doctor's "Willingness to listen carefully to you."
The illustration below shows each region's score for this survey question, which correlates significantly with overall satisfaction and willingness to
refer the provider to others:
So how can you score as high as the Southeast region average for this survey question? Try these simple techniques:
patients to tell their stories. Studies show that patient who are allowed to
finish their thoughts usually do so within 90-120 seconds.
with an empathy statement. Empathy - e.g., "That must be difficult for you" - is
the key ingredient in communicating!
the patient's knowledge, attitudes and beliefs about the illness. Asking "What
have you tried so far?" or "What do you think would help?" validate patients'
intelligence, even if they're wrong.
about the patient's "personal cost." Your interest in how the patient's life is
affected translates into "I care about you as a person, not just as a diagnosis
For more information about how we can help your physicians raise survey scores, email us or call 619.283.8988 today!
SullivanLuallin specializes in patient satisfaction
services, and is the premier healthcare customer service consulting firm in the
nation. For over 25 years, we've helped physician practices implement Customer
Service Initiatives that produce immediate improvement and ongoing results. Clients
come to us for on-site and web-based Customer Service training, Shadow Coaching
for low-scoring physicians, Mystery Patient/Mystery Caller assessments, and
Customer Satisfaction surveys. |