Tahoe Forest Hospital rolls out new customer service program | SierraSun.com

Tahoe Forest Hospital rolls out new customer service program

Hannah Jones
hjones@sierrasun.com

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The new program is now utilizing a single phone number (530-582-3598) for customers to call with any questions about their medical bills including an estimate of services or to work out any issues with their insurance companies.

Paying your hospital bills could get easier with Tahoe Forest Hospital’s new customer service program designed to better serve their patients.

“We have put in place a navigation team to really connect with you,” said Harry Weiss, chief executive officer of Tahoe Forest Hospital. A customer service team he said “that virtually no hospital in the world has.”

Over the last 16 years the hospital been working to create a high-performing health organization with focus of patient safety, quality care and patient satisfaction, said Crystal Betts, chief financial officer of Tahoe Forest Hospital.

“We’ve done great at patient satisfaction, safety and quality care,” she said. “What we really haven’t been great at is helping you, the patient, with navigating the financial health system.”

“We wanted to make sure you had one phone number to call. No more guessing.”— Crystal Betts, Tahoe Forest Hospital chief financial officer

The hospital hired seven new employees, five new financial customer services representatives and two financial counselors. Betts said they required all new employees to get certifications to ensure they fully understand their job functions. All of the financial customer service representatives were required to get their Revenue Cycle Integrity Professional certifications within six months of being hired while the financial counselors had to get their Revenue Cycle Specialist certifications within 12 months.

The new program is now utilizing a single phone number (530-582-3598) for customers to call with any questions about their medical bills including an estimate of services or to work out any issues with their insurance companies.

“We wanted to make sure you had one phone number to call. No more guessing,” said Betts.

Due to the complexity of the health system, Betts said it’s likely to get a bill that doesn’t come directly from Tahoe Forest Hospital. “It might be from the ambulance service or the anesthesiologist or radiologist,” she said.

With the new program Betts said customer service representatives will be available to connect patients with the appropriate people to quickly resolve issues that arise.

“Instead of finger pointing we want to help you right then and there,” she said. “That’s what makes us unique.”

Following a “quiet launch” of the program in October, the hosptial began surveying customer phone calls for those willing to participate. Out of those calls the average score on their customer service survey was a 7.5 out of 9, with an overall service level of 83 percent, above the industry service level of 80 percent.

When designing the program Betts said they found that most of the internal team was unsure of where to direct their patients to when they had question concerning their bills.

“The first people we need to teach about our program is our own employees,” she said.

To do so, the hospital invested in educational sheets, as well as training sessions, so all employees are better equipped to deal with a patient’s billing concerns.

Hannah Jones is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at 530-550-2652 or hjones@sierrasun.com.