Hospitals and Dental Offices

by Larry Emmott on April 28, 2016

in Health Care Politics,Management,Paperless

Writing to form.From John Stossel, as they say read the whole thing:

But as a consumer reporter, I have to say, the hospital’s customer service stinks. Doctors keep me waiting for hours, and no one bothers to call or email to say, “I’m running late.” Few doctors give out their email address. Patients can’t communicate using modern technology.

Source: Hospital – John Stossel – Page 1

Obviously Stossel is a smart guy as virtually everything he states in the linked article I agree with. 🙂

I had a similar experience in the hospital a few years ago. Every time I was wheeled into a new area I had to fill out another form, by hand, asking the same questions as the form I had filled out minutes ago in the ward next door.

Impenetrable reams of regulations and paperwork take up way too much valuable staff time reducing patient contact and increasing costs.

Since the patient rarely pays he/she has no idea of what the costs are and what the best options might be. All too often the treatment patients receive is what the insurance covers not what might be best for the case or for the patient. Customer service is horrible because the patient is not really the customer. The customer is the one who pays.

Stossel points out that the areas of medicine where patients pay directly physicians compete to satisfy the patient, fees are readily available and prices are held down by competition .

Medicine is a high tech contradiction. On the one hand we have totally amazing new devices that can diagnose and treat disease. We can apply advanced technology that both extends our lives and improves the quality of our lives. Clinical medical technology is extraordinary. On the other hand medical system struggle with the most basic of customer service and patient communications. Many if not most physicians offices and hospitals have record and communications systems that would have seemed out of date in the 1990s.

Dentistry has some of the same issues as medicine but in many ways is much different. Dentists do not have anything near the technological miracles they are using in medicine but we do have much better communications and customer service.

Insurance plays a much smaller role in dentistry. Insurance never covers major work and covers only a portion of basic procedures. Since the patient is paying they demand and we provide an accurate detailed estimate of the fees before we start the work. That almost never happens in medicine. If your physician recommends a triple bypass and you ask what it will cost you will just get back a blank stare. They actually have no idea.

Since dental patients are paying the costs of their treatment and by necessity know the expected costs they can and do shop for price.

However price is not the only or even the most important factor. Dental patients also shop for service. How they are treated and how effectively the office communicates matters. This is where technology makes a difference. If you offer e-reminders, online forms, online bill pay and make crowns in a single visit you are offering better customer service. People will notice, just like they notice the abysmal customer service in the hospital, they will be willing to pay more and they will refer their friends and family.

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