By Timothy Hinderschied
and Todd Baumgartner, OD
July 24, 2019
You can be the best doctor, and have the best optical dispensary, but if patients can’t use their insurance in your office, most will go elsewhere. Fortunately, there is a service and technology that makes it easy for patients to use insurance in your office, regardless of what that insurance is.
Patch is a cloud-based web application that provides a streamlined experience for managing vision insurance benefits for all kinds of eyecare providers, including optometrists, opticians and ophthalmologists. Patch makes it possible to easily submit claims for all patients, regardless of whether your office accepts the patient’s insurance, or whether your practice accepts any insurance at all.
Creating a Patient-Friendly Office
Patch allows us to easily collect full payment for all services and products from patients, and then submit a claim on their behalf, even if our office is not on the patient’s insurance panel.
The one caveat is that Patch can only be used for the agreed contract (with the insurance company) reimbursement amount. Patch can only be used for full fees when the patient is seeking out-of-network care, or with private pay.
We have been using Patch in our office for one-and-half years, and have already noticed an improvement in the number of patients we see and patients’ satisfaction level with their experience in our office. Instead of having to throw up our hands helplessly when a patient tells us they have an insurance we don’t accept, we now are able to process the patient’s services through their insurance provider, so that they get reimbursed in a timely fashion. The ease of the transaction keeps patients coming back to our office, and referring friends and family.
Providing Greater Access to Care & Profitability
The ability for our practice to see more patients, who otherwise would look for another provider, has resulted in the generation of $4 of profit for every dollar spent on Patch. That profit comes from the patients who purchased eyewear in our office, who, before we had Patch, would have gone to another optical shop to make their purchase.
ROB Bottom Line: Patch
In addition to eyewear sales, Patch allows our doctors to be better providers of medical eyecare. Patients who might have skipped an annual exam because of inability to use insurance, can come to our office and access our services more easily now. That results in patients with potentially sight-threatening conditions getting diagnosis and care, and those with quality-of-life challenges like dry eye and ocular allergies getting treatments that allow them to live more happily.
Easier for Both Patients & Staff
The convenience added to patients’ lives is accompanied by greater ease added to the work flow of staff. Our practice’s employees used to spend significant time with the claim reconciliation process, but with Patch, that time has been cut nearly in half. It’s as easy as obtaining the patient’s insurance member information, logging onto Patch, seeing the patient’s benefits information appear on the screen and then creating a claim for the patient’s services and product purchases.
Read More About Patch
Another great part for both patients and staff is that claims submitted through Patch are less likely to fail and require that they be re-submitted. The technology makes the submission process more straightforward and foolproof, eliminating the time we used to spend re-submitting failed claims.
The web application is simple and intuitive to use, so that the employee can quickly submit a claim on behalf of one patient and then move onto serving another patient. That means freed up time to work with employees in the optical, or provide needed support in other areas of the practice, such as providing the patient education that helps the doctors deliver a high level of care.
Retain Patients Long-Term
Patient attrition due to moving to another city or changing jobs–and insurance–is common. We can’t do anything about patients who move out of our area, but now we can accommodate patients who have changed jobs and have new insurance coverage.
Patients are pleased when they assume they will no longer be able to visit our office, and we tell them about how we can continue to serve them even though their coverage has changed. That long-term retention helps us affirm our position as a fixture in the community. Patients know they can depend on us regardless of the changing life circumstances that often accompany changes in insurance coverage.
When patients know they can count on you, they sing your praises, resulting in positive reviews and a strong reputation for providing topnotch care and services.
Tom Baumgartner, OD, is a partner with Little Falls Care Center in Little Falls, Minn.