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How & Why You Should Add Empathy to Patient Collection

Posted by Rona Gallway on Apr 25, 2019 8:58:20 AM

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U.S Healthcare Statistics

Most Americans feel that they have better healthcare services compared to other parts of the world. While that is mainly true, America is one of the most well-developed countries that has healthcare industry issues. Only 23 percent of Americans have access to the best healthcare in the world, 21 percent are undecided, while the remaining 56 percent do not have any access.

  • Americans pay more on healthcare costs than any other nation despite ranking last among the world’s leading developed countries. The average life expectancy of Americans is 60 and the mortality rates of Americans are higher than other developed countries. According to research conducted by The Commonwealth Fund, Americans pay the highest healthcare costs yet have the lowest healthcare outcomes.
  • Employers bear a big chunk of healthcare costs in America. Last year, employers paid a staggering 75 percent of costs for healthcare while the employees contributed the rest. It’s one of the most important perks of any job considering that the average cost of medical care without insurance is very pricey.
  • The American healthcare industry is now worth $3.5 trillion. Over the last five decades, the healthcare industry has seen substantial growth - back in 1960 it was worth $24.7 billion and now it has risen to over a trillion dollars. The increase is due to the rise in healthcare costs and a population that is becoming more health-conscious every year.
  • Shortage of doctors. There are only 2.6 doctors for every 1,000 American patients. With a population of 326,766,748 in the United States, there is a clear shortage of doctors in the United States right now.

 

Why U.S. Healthcare Is So Expensive

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It’s not new news that U.S. healthcare is very expensive. In fact, the healthcare industry in the U.S is twice as expensive as it is in any other developed country. So, why is U.S. healthcare so expensive?

  1. Administrative Costs. According to Harvard economist David Cutler, the number one reason why our healthcare costs are so high is because of the colossal administrative costs. About a quarter of healthcare costs is associated with administration, which is way higher than any other country. An example would be - at Duke University Hospital, they have 1,300 billing clerks but they only have 900 beds. Billing clerks handle the billing process in order to meet the requirements of multiple insurers.
  2. Defensive Medicine. Doctors are frightened to get sued. So, in order to make sure they don’t get sued, they hand out multiple order of tests even when they already know what the diagnosis is. A Gallup survey estimated that $650 billion a year could be connected to defensive mechanism. This is another big factor as to why the U.S. healthcare industry is so expensive.
  3. Drug Costs. In almost every country in the world, the government is the one who handles, negotiates, and regulates the drug prices with major drug makers and distributors. However, in America, Congress created Medicare Part D. Medicare has been denied the right to negotiate drug prices unlike The Veteran’s Administration and Medicaid who was allowed to use their power to negotiate and pay the lowest drug prices. Through negotiations, it could allow the federal government to save up to $116 billion over 10 years. With this in mind, can you imagine how much Medicare recipients could save if they also got the same benefits Medicaid recipients receive?
  4. Branding. In some cases, doctors tend to overcharge to create a “brand”. To quote Andrea Caballero, a program director at Catalyst for Payment Reform, “In some markets, the prestigious medical institutions can name their price.” So basically, doctors can name their price in order to create a brand or reputation for themselves. Psychologically, when people know that the doctor is expensive, then we automatically assume that they’re the best in their field.
  5. Expensive Treatments. Most U.S doctors also tend to order a more expensive mix of treatments. The U.S. healthcare industry performs up to three times as many mammograms, 31 percent more Cesarean sections, and two-and-a-half times the number of MRIs than other countries. And, most people in America are treated by specialists who ask for higher fees than an ordinary primary care doctor. Specialists demand higher pay which contributes to the rise of healthcare costs.

 

Empathize With Your Patients

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A little empathy goes a very long way when it comes to collecting patient fees. After all, despite all the insurance policies, these days, patients are responsible for a bigger portion of their medical costs. Due to this, some patients are forced to take on payday loans, sell possessions, and tap into retirement funds just to cover medical costs.

For independent medical clinics who aren’t under any insurance plans, some have a hard time talking to their patients. But, this could be a great opportunity for doctors to build a strong relationship with their patients. Here’s how you should approach your patients with empathy.

#1 Treat your patient as a person, not money

Even the smallest gestures that you do such as calling your patients by their name and wishing them well can make them feel like you are not just in it for the money. When you create a conversation regarding their bill and ask them how they can pay with the utmost sensitivity, they are more likely to feel empathy towards you also and make it a priority to pay. You should always remember that your patients are also overwhelmed with their health issues. Always reach out to them in a very humane way. Your patients go to you for help, therefore you should treat them kindly.

#2 Never judge

Remember the famous quote - “You’ll never know what another person feels until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes”. Always keep that in mind, especially when it comes to your patients.

According to a survey conducted by the Federal Reserve, 47 percent of American families that had to face a $400 emergency bill could not cover the expense. So, as a medical practitioner, consider offering a payment plan to help them with their medical expenses. They will most likely be very grateful for this gesture and this can help with patient loyalty.

#3 Service with a smile

As a physician, you took an oath to serve your patients and provide them with the best service. When you keep a positive attitude and being empathetic top of mind, whether at your front desk or examining room, you will be surprised at how well you can handle situations. And being warm and friendly, instead of cold and rude, when talking about payments can also make a huge difference. Your patients may take in the news better and be more willing to work with you on ensuring that their bills are paid.

#4 Always respond appropriately

Not all patients have the capacity to pay right away. They may be currently facing a financial burden and even the smallest medical bill stresses them out. Always observe the way your patients look and respond to you. Offer them emotional support if necessary, and show them that you care. This will oblige them to pay their medical fees without feeling too anxious and stressed out about it.

 

 

The Bottom Line…

I know with everything that you’re handling in your medical practice, sometimes you just don’t have the time to deal with payment collections. This is where DrCatalyst comes in to help you with your payment collections burden. DrCatalyst has highly-skilled, highly-trained employees who put your patients first. They can help you with your payment collections. All you have to do is provide your patients with the best healthcare service and DrCatalyst can do the rest. Click here to schedule an appointment with our team.

 

Show your patients that you care and we’ll make sure that you get paid!

Topics: Medical Billing