I often think of (and share with others) a quote from my mom that influences my life to this day. I actually learned more by watching her than hearing it from her.
“Everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”
Today, many people in and around healthcare are consumed with finding their way through some combination of the Affordable Care Act, conversion to a new system or getting ready for ICD-10, to name just a few of the things on the plate. The time consuming day-to-day worries can make it difficult to stop and think about the people (patients and their families) that make their way through the revenue cycle and are referred to “bad debt”.
Remember, everyone is fighting a hard battle. I can’t tell you how many people, hurting people, my teams and I have talked to over the years where in the end we were able to help, even if just a little. Maybe we got them on a payment plan that worked for their situation and allowed at least one call to stop. Or maybe we didn’t get them on a payment plan, but we encouraged them to not lose hope. It’s amazing how many times a person called back to pay when they had the resources because we cared enough to care. I can’t tell you how many of my associates would hang up the phone in tears because of a story a patient just shared with them.
I remember the mom who had an 8-year-old with cancer and how overwhelmed she was with all the bills. I didn’t even mention the $73 balance she had, but I did try and help her with advice on looking into financial assistance and what she could do. I still think about her and her 8-year-old and hope they are doing well.
I think about the lady who cussed me out and when she took a breath and I was able to ask her a question about her situation, the conversation changed. That week she lost her job, her husband left her and a collection agency was calling about a bill. I listened. I encouraged her. We worked out a plan for repayment and she thanked me.
You see we all have a story. That’s why I work where I do. We don’t forget that. It’s our mission to try and make life better for the person on the other end of the line. That’s why we do what we do. Our tagline is “Making customers better.” We don’t apply that solely to the healthcare systems and other companies we serve. It’s also every single person who picks up the phone when we call. Why? Because they have a story and they matter too.