When was the last time you had an honest talk with your patients about their healthcare costs? Unfortunately, money is one of those discussions that many practitioners don’t seem to bring up enough when talking candidly about options. Too many assume that the insurance company will handle it or don’t even know the various charges associated with the diagnostic tests, treatments, and medications they’re prescribing.
As a whole, this is why the medical industry sometimes gets a bad reputation. Most people trust medical providers with their care, yet end up shocked and dismayed when they receive a massive bill after the fact. While some begrudgingly pay, others feel that they’ve been duped into spending money they don’t have, which often leads to switching practitioners or speaking out publicly.
However, having honest conversations with your patients about what they’re being charged and why the care is worth the value is important. Here are four ways being honest about financial concerns helps patients and your overall practice.
1. Patients Need Financial Information to Make Clear Decision
It would be great to believe that patients always made the right choice and did not put off certain health screenings or treatments due to financial concerns. The truth? Most people who have limited resources won’t think twice about holding out on getting certain diagnostic tests or other costly care if it stretches beyond their monetary means.
The problem here is that patients simply just do not know how much medical services actually cost. It’s not like they walk into a store and see a price tag for each medical service performed. And, after all, the market varies pretty wildly. What one patient is charged isn’t always the same for another with a different insurance company. Trying to come up with a figure is tough for even seasoned medical professionals, let alone a scared and anxious patient worried about whether what you’re prescribing as a course of treatment is going to break them financially.
By being transparent with your patients about cost concerns, you can help them see where certain preventative measures or tests now can be worth the cost in the long run, helping them to make the right decision. For example, a diagnostic mammogram to catch breast cancer early is far less expensive than undergoing months of treatment, adding a blood pressure medication now can help reduce the chances of a heart attack later in life, etc.
2. Many Patients See Unexpected Bills as a Reason to Switch Doctors
It’s easy to agree that patients put a lot of faith in you as a medical provider. That is earned trust that comes as they have more appointments with you and understand that you’re taking an active interest in their care. But the moment an unexpected bill pops up in their mailbox, a lot of that faith goes away.
As a practitioner, this can be the so-called kiss of death for your practice. By not keeping patients in the loop about what they should expect in terms of financial costs, you’re leaving them to be blindsided weeks or even months down the road. In the end, this can lead to losing patients and ruining your reputation if it happens frequently enough for word of mouth to spread.
3. Patients Need Financial Discussions to See the Value of Care
Another reason why you should have cost discussions with patients is that it sets the expectation for overall value of care. Not sure what we mean by this? Well, let’s look at a non-medical example for a better perspective.
A woman walks into a local retail store to buy a new handbag. She sees two that she really likes and they’re almost identical. One has a price tag of $100 and the other has a price tag of $1,000. Upon further inspection, she realizes that the less expensive handbag isn’t made from quality materials and even some of the stitching is starting to come undone. The more expensive handbag is also a brand name that is known around the globe. She opts for the pricier option, because in her mind she’s getting more value even though it costs more.
Having this conversation of what patients are getting for the cost instills this same mental imagery of value. By understanding that a certain diagnostic test looks deeper for more abnormalities and produces a clearer result, your patients can understand exactly why it has a higher price tag. And the same thing with specialty doctors, surgeons, and others, as their reputation helps justify the overall cost. But, they wouldn’t know any of this if you don’t explain it, right?
4. Financial Transparency Strengthens Your Bond with Patients
As previously mentioned, trust is everything when it comes to the medical field. Your patients literally put their lives in your hands each time they come to you with a problem, whether it be an annoying sinus allergy or a life threatening illness.
Being open and honest with those you serve is more than just a courtesy. In fact, financial transparency helps strengthen the bond you have with your patients. By keeping them educated on the costs associated with their care and discussing their concerns about whether they can afford treatment, you’re bringing that level of trust back into the examination room.
Furthermore, you’re showing them that you’re not out just to collect their money and that they aren’t just a number. You’re telling them that you care about what they can do to improve their health and helping them see that there are things they can afford, even if it means opting for a generic prescription or taking a different course of treatment.
Prevent Billing Errors with M-Scribe Medical Billing Services
Of course, part of being open and honest about patient care costs is ensuring your billing staff is knowledgeable enough to bill correctly for services. By working with an outside provider like M-Scribe Medical Billing Services. With our full range of services, you can rest assured that your patients get the care they need without erroneous billing errors. Please contact us today for details.