Communicating with patients can be a bit difficult at times. You are trained to code and bill as seen fit from the provider’s documentation and maybe even how to communicate with the provider, but not the communication with the patient aspect.
With patients’ out-of-pocket costs being an at all-time high now, it causes patients to look a little closer at their medical bills. From this, patients may come to you for clarification since insurance companies typically provide minimal information on the patient’s explanation of benefits. This causes conversations with patients about coding and their insurance coverage, which may not always be easy conversations.
Here are some tips on how to best communicate with patients during these conversations:
1.) Speak Confidently!
You are a professional coder, so you know what you are talking about. Convey your knowledge about your profession. Speak confidently that you know what you are talking about and can be a reliable, reputable source of information.
2.) Identify Patient’s Concern
Listen to understand why they are concerned. Is it a misunderstanding about their insurance plan? Is it a coding question? You should listen to their concerns and understand their point of view. Take the time to ask the patient questions. If you’re confused, they may end up being more confused, so make sure you understand and can speak to their problem. Make sure while you are on the call that you get it all out then and there so there is no back and forth calls or emails from confusion.
3.) Be Empathetic
If you put yourself in their shoes, you’d most likely be upset and frustrated too. Genuinely listen to their concerns to understand their point of view. If you do not know or do not have an immediate answer, give them a time that you will call them back like I will call you back by end of day Wednesday. During this time, do your research to make sure you get back on the phone with them prepared. Review their file, ask any questions you need to know, and actually call them back when promised to let them know you are taking their concerns seriously.
4.) Avoid Acronyms and Confusing Terms
Coders and other healthcare professionals may understand what you are talking about, but you cannot assume that the patient does. Use terminology they will understand like saying your condition instead of the ICD-10 Code or your visit with the provider instead of the Evaluation and Management Code to be sure you are not just causing more confusion.
We hope these tips help you become better communicators with patients! Happy coding!