North Carolina Policyholders: Notice to policyholders recently affected by severe weather. 

Heading Off Complaints Using the HEARD or HEART Technique

Of late, we have had a number of calls from dentists who have been contacted by their patients who request refunds, don't want to pay the remainder of their bill or who incur additional expenses by going to the ER. Patient complaints frequently end up as litigation. If you can timely address and resolve the situation, you may be well ahead of the game, not to mention potentially head off a board complaint.

If you are fortunate enough for the patient to reach out to you regarding a concern, you have an opportunity to potentially mitigate the situation prior to the situation evolving into a claim. When it comes to dealing with patients who are upset over care, treatment or financial issues, there are important steps to take toward resolution.

Both the HEARD (Hear, Empathize, Acknowledge, Respond, Diagnose) program used by Disney and the HEART program (Hear, Empathize, Acknowledge, Respond, Thank) used by many hospitals boil down to:  

  • Promptly acknowledge concerns of patients and family members 
  • Try to view the situation from the patient’s perspective
  • Train all your staff to calmly listen to patient and family member concerns
  • Acknowledge the issue when you are made aware of it (when you receive the email/call)
  • Advise the patient and/or family member that you will look into the issue
  • Gather all the facts needed to review the situation: 
  • Does the patient need to come in for an assessment?
  • Do you need to review subsequent treatment records?
  • Sit down with the patient and any family members in a quiet area away from distractions
  • Use positive/nonverbal listening techniques, such as maintaining eye contact, supportive body language and avoiding interruptions 
  • Repeat back what the patient says so you can confirm that you correctly understand the concern
  • Focus on areas on which you seem to agree
  • Document the conversation as soon after the event as possible

If you decide you would like to address the situation monetarily, be sure contact our claims representatives so they can help you consider all aspects of the process.

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