A little known but large problem canshut off a major source of newpatients. According to a recent Centerfor Studying Health System Change survey,90% of US physicians have at least 1contract with a managed care plan, andmost health insurance plan members(ie, your prospective patients) selecttheir physician from a thick referencedirectory published 2 to 4 times a year.
If your name or medical practice isnot listed, or listed incorrectly, yourmost basic connecting point with planmembers is broken. If your listing is correct,it only takes seconds to find out.But if it's wrong, you may lose patientsand revenue until you are properly listed.A simple clerical mistake can wipeout your practice for anyone trying tomake a choice.
CHECK YOUR DIRECTORIES
Call the health plans' sales offices orprovider relation's departments and geta copy of each provider directory assoon as it comes off the press. Confirmthe following points:
CALL CUSTOMER SERVICE
Dial the toll-free number and pose asa potential member. Ask if your office isavailable under the plan. The customerservice agent should be able to identifyyour office quickly. Do they have additionalinformation about your practice(eg, hours, languages spoken, etc) if youask? Is everything they say clear, accurate,and up-to-date?
If there is a discrepancy, call yourprovider relation's representative immediately.Provide the correct information,and then follow up in writing. Offer toreview a proof of your listing before it'sprinted. Make it as easy as possible forthem to print a full and correct listing inthe next edition.
BE PATIENT, NOT PASSIVE
If you've just recently partneredwith a health plan, chances are you'renot yet listed in their physician directory.Be sure they know about you in customerservice, and confirm that all informationis correct.
Post a list of the health plans thatcontract with your office. And make alist of their toll-free numbers. Make iteasy for a plan member to select youroffice. Train your staff to help themthrough the process. Insurance programscan be a terrific source of newpatients, but first they have to be able tofind you. By helping the plan membersthrough the provider selection process,you'll stand out in a book full of doctors.
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