Pennsylvania hospital using app to give refunds to unhappy patients

Pennsylvania hospital using app to give refunds to unhappy patients (Via WHTM)

CAMP HILL, Pa. (WHTM) – If you get bad service from a business, you expect a refund.

Now, a Pennsylvania health care chain with facilities in the Midstate is adopting that customer service mentality.

Like any hospital, Holy Spirit in Camp Hill wants patient experiences to be as good as they can be.

“We want real-time feedback about how we’re doing,” Holy Spirit vice president of operations Kyle Snyder said. “So, you’ve got to have a way to basically acknowledge the fact that perhaps we don’t get everything right every time.”

The local affiliate of the Geisinger health care system now has that mechanism in the form of an app.

It’s part of the Geisinger-wide ProvenExperience program. That’s been around for a few months, starting as a pilot program for bariatric and spinal surgery patients, but the app just launched for all patients last week.

“If they feel that something didn’t go right — the food was cold, someone was rude to them, perhaps they waited long in a waiting room or it took them a long time to get an appointment — they can ask for a refund,” Snyder said.

That’s right: You tell them what went wrong and how much of your co-pay or deductible you want back, and you get that money back, up to about $2,000, no questions asked, Geisinger vice president of media Wendy Wilson said.

Some of the most common complaints, she said, are long waits, especially in the emergency room; a lack of communication regarding care; the environment of care, which includes excessive noise; food quality and delivery; and issues regarding billing.

The company has worked to address the issues patients have identified, Wilson said. The company hired an executive chef to monitor food quality system-wide, instituted a new communication device for care teams, and brought in a consulting firm to simplify hospital bills.

So far, Geisinger has given back about $100,000 across their entire network since the pilot program launched in September. For Holy Spirit, that number is just under $1,400.

Most of the patients who ask for refunds, Wilson said, ask for only a portion of their money back.

But those figures don’t matter to Holy Spirit or to Geisinger; what does is what they do with the information.

“We’re able to go back to housekeeping, or we’re able to go back to our nursing staff and give them that feedback real-time,” Snyder said.

In practice, that’s led the hospital to start re-working their phone system. Patients complain that there are a lot of different phone numbers for different departments. Snyder said they’re working to simplify that.

Asked if the health care facility was worried about people abusing the refund system, Snyder said they’re not, because the system is designed for accountability between the staff and people who trust them with their healthcare.

“With that being sort of the core of why we’re doing this,” he said, “it doesn’t give us a lot of reason for concern.”

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