Many physicians if not all can attest to the fact that patients will complain. It is one thing if a patient only complains about the office staff or the physician themselves; but how do you prevent a complaint into becoming a lawsuit?
During a busy day in your practice, you may encounter patient complaints. Sometimes the patient leaves without an answer to their problem or a remedy for their concerns, in turn they tell others about their poor treatment. They may even report it to their insurance carrier and occasionally file a malpractice claim.
The office should have a written grievance process that provides an opportunity for the patient to reveal their problem and allow the physician the chance to remedy the grievance. It is important for the office to post notifications for the patients to see, or you may want to give a copy to all patients that come in for a visit. Make sure that it clearly states that the physician will review these grievances. Another suggestion would be to have a suggestion box that is in view of patients so that they could make suggestions or complaints without having to identify themselves. It is also important to post signage that gives patients a way to contact an office staff member, either by phone extension, email or phone if they have any complaints or concerns. This helps to prevent these problems from escalating into something bigger.
The most common complaints are (1) prolonged wait time (2) rudeness (3) failure to communicate (4) failure to fulfill expectations from the exam (5) billing issues.
The top complaints are wait time and rudeness. Physicians need to make sure their staff members are treating patients with respect and dignity. The physician should also take the responsibility of how they manage their schedule as well as the office staff. If the physician is behind in their schedule, this should be told to the patients as they arrive. Also giving them an update on the wait time would help to ease patients and it gives them the feeling of being cared for and shows them that the office values their time as well.
In a complaint regarding rudeness, an office manager or physician should address this issue immediately and not let it go on for a period of time hoping it will stop, it won’t, this needs to be addressed as soon as it is apparent. Rudeness is something that is unacceptable and should never be tolerated by a physician. Proper corrective actions towards the staff member need to be taken.
Good communication between staff members and patients along with the physician is key to a good working environment, not only for the staff but patients as well.
Marina Hall is a Certified Medical Reimbursement Specialist (CMRS) and founder of MariAnn Medical Billing Service. To read a full “Interview with Marina Hall” visit her website at http://www.inscoding.com/aboutus.php
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