Customer Service Should be an AdvantEdge in Your Practice

By Michael J Krivich, LAFCHE, Director of Marketing and Sales Operations

We all know the importance of customer service as it relates to patient experience and satisfaction with physician services in today’s healthcare environment.  Patients rank their satisfaction with the physician services in surveys by the practice, in the CMS Fee-For-Service CHAPS survey, and by other private survey companies like J.D. Powers, for example. Patients will even take to social media to express their satisfaction or dissatisfaction with practice customer service on platforms such as Yelp, Facebook, Twitter, and others which can spread rapidly on the Internet of Things.

The practice can do everything right from experience to care, only to have the in-house billing staff and process, or outsourced billing and coding company make a customer service mistake. That billing mistake, be it the wrong deductible or copay, not picking up the insurance change or even being able to respond to billing inquiries promptly can negatively impact practice experience and satisfaction scores.

Who hears about that poor customer service the most?

None other than the physician and social media. With healthcare moving each day to more of a semi-retail market model, and the coming regulations mandating provider price transparency, the customer service work of the in-house or outsourced billing company becomes even more important.

Choosing a Medical Billing Company

What seems rarely discussed in choosing a medical billing company in RFPs and RFIs is how the company provides customer service to the practice’s patients when they call, pay a medical bill, or even ask a question.  The service provided to the practice’s patient’s in resolving billing questions, concerns, complaints, or making a payment can be just as important as the financial aspects. In many ways, the technology, systems, and processes of the medical billing company for interacting with patients will impact the practice’s patient experience and satisfaction scores for better or worse.

It’s more than just what your office hours of operations are, or do you have a call center?

Customer service experience questions for your consideration when choosing a medical billing company should include:

  • Are patient calls answered by real people or an IVR system?
  • Is your call center onshore or offshore?
  • Are patients provided with a toll-free number for payment and inquiries?
  • Does the billing company have an online patient payment portal? What capabilities does the patient payment portal have?
  • Are the patient billing statements customizable to the practice?
  • What are the call center statistics for speed-to-answer, hang-ups, dropped calls, downtime, etc.?
  • Are members of the call center team bilingual?
  • Describe your process for addressing patient concerns with the practice?
  • How is your call center staff trained and supervised?
  • Describe your customer service resolution process?

The customer service experience of the patient at all levels of the medical practice has a major influence on the levels of measured satisfaction with the practice. Understanding how a medical billing company provides patient-friendly customer service can be a real AdvantEdge in your patient satisfaction scores and positive reviews on social media.

Michael J Krivich, LFACHE, is the Director of Marketing and Sales Operations, AdvantEdge Healthcare Solutions, and co-author of “How to Use Patient Satisfaction Data to Improve Healthcare Quality” ASQ Press.

AdvantEdge Healthcare Solutions is a national, top 10 medical billing company that provides billing, coding, and revenue cycle management solutions for specialty medical practices for over 50 years.   If you have questions about how AdvantEdge can improve your billing and coding so that you are collecting every dollar that you’re legally and ethically entitled, please call us at 877-501-1611 or email info@ahsrcm.com.

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