Tell Me Now: Providing Options through NorthWind Financial Services
Part 8 of a series
L. Lee Isley, Chief Executive Officer, Granville Health System
Tell Me Now: Providing Options through NorthWind Financial Services
I would like to first thank you for the continued feedback on the “Tell Me Now” column; we are giving patients a voice and using that feedback to improve their experiences at Granville Health System.
Let me tell you, our staff-lead Tell Me Now customer service team has been busy. We have taken your feedback and implemented effective customer service initiatives; improving the patient experience at your community hospital.
I’d like to share two of our newly initiated programs, based on your feedback:
Ensure patient rooms are ALWAYS quiet at night.
In the past when a nurse was needed by the front desk, the paging system was used. The page, “Nurse Adams, you have a phone call at the front desk” went into every room.
The Tell Me Now Action Committee asked for cordless telephones to be used to eliminate unnecessary noise in patient rooms. These cordless phones were purchased and set up for each nurse and nursing assistant to be assigned at the beginning of each shift. Now when a phone call comes in, the unit secretary can transfer the call to directly to appropriate staff.
The nurses appreciate not having to rush to the desk for every phone call. The doctors and other departments appreciate not having to wait for a call back. Best of all, patients have certainly responded to the quieter environment. Survey response to this question has improved from 44.4% answering their rooms were ALWAYS quiet at night in April 2014, to more than 94% of patients answering ALWAYS in July 2015.
Ensure patient room and bathrooms are ALWAYS kept clean.
Environmental Services recently implemented a turn-down service. Similar to turn-down service at a luxury hotel, the service is intended to offer patients a final room cleaning before bedtime. Trash is emptied, the bathroom and sink are wiped down, and bath linens are offered. This new initiative began August 17 and the initial survey responses are promising. Turn-down service, a staff-driven program led by Housekeeping and Nursing, illustrates how a team can respond to the needs of our patients in new and creative ways.
NorthWind Financial Services
In past columns, we’ve discussed the changing landscape of health care and how Granville Health System is responding to change with a focus on customer service for our patients and their families. With your feedback, we remain committed to working to continuously improve the way we deliver health care within our community.
Some of the feedback I continue to hear from our community relates to pre-service payments. You see, before a procedure is scheduled our Admissions Team is contractually obligated by insurance companies to collect copays and deductibles. As a point of reference, copays are a flat fee you pay toward services. This is your initial payment for service, no matter the reason for your visit. Deductibles are the portion of your medical expenses not covered by a copay and you are responsible for 100%, until you reach your deductible limit. Like car insurance, when medical expenses occur, you pay your deductible and then insurance kicks in to help pay the remainder of the bill. Many of our patients are finding that their health insurance companies have built their plans with deductibles of $2,500, $5,000 and even $7,000. Some of the plans are employer-provided insurance plans and some are plans offered through the Affordable Care Act Marketplace.
Oftentimes, these financial obligations are unexpected and, let’s face it, never come up at a convenient time for the patient or their family. An unexpected medical fee is something that families do not plan for and for most is a financial hardship. But again, the insurance companies require us to collect these fees upfront.
If we cannot collect these deductibles, some procedures may be postponed unless there is a medical emergency. We don’t want this to happen. To avoid delays, our staff is committed to help ensure that our patients maintain access to the health care they need, when they need it. This is why GHS is implementing a unique program this month, designed to give our patients flexible financial options.
The Health System has partnered with NorthWind PFS to introduce a new program called “Thrive”. Thrive connects patients with flexible financial options in order to bridge the gap between their financial needs and their health care needs.
Thrive helps uninsured patients by providing credit-based financing for their health needs. The program also serves to strengthen health care in the community by offering credit to patients who have health insurance, but are unable to meet their deductible or who plan an elective surgery.
Patients who don’t qualify for a credit-based solution also have options. There is a non-credit based program available which helps patients make scheduled payments on their medical procedure and improve their credit score at the same time.
Patients can talk to their Financial Care Counselor at Admissions about the Thrive program. Patients can begin the application process in person or by phone during pre-registration. GHS staff will provide the paperwork and submit it for processing. Once all the documents are completed, the Thrive program will provide a decision from lenders in as little as 30 minutes. If you are familiar with the company, Lending Tree, the process is very similar. The patient then chooses a lender and provides the verification documents (the patient must present these documents in person). Verification documents include:
- Email address
- Driver’s license
- Social Security number
- Debit card or banking information
- Recent pay stub or income verification
- Utility bill showing physical address
The Thrive program is a great solution for patients with high unexpected deductibles or for those who are uninsured. Granville Health System continues to work to ensure you receive the care you need, when you need it. Our entire team is dedicated to providing quality care and excellent customer service that will earn a 10 in patient experience from you during each and every visit; from admissions to discharge.
Again, our mission at Granville Health System is to provide you, our community, with the very best health care, delivered with compassion and pride. We want to ensure you always have access to the appropriate care at the appropriate time. GHS will continue to develop new ways, and new partnerships, to support our commitment to deliver high quality service to the areas we serve.
There are many things that I like about living in a small community, but one of things I like best is hearing about your experiences at GHS. Please continue to stop me in the grocery store and at the gym to share your feedback with me. You can also always contact me directly by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.