What Keeps Me Up at Night

Hearing Health & Technology Matters
June 29, 2011

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When I decided to go out on my own, my main concern was, “how can I manage maternity leave?” I had the choice of buying an office from my boss, or going along with the sale of her practices. It is funny to me now, but this was a huge thought to me. Well, my oldest is 10 and 1/2 now and this is concept is completely off of my radar.

What keeps me up now is, “Am I handling my money correctly?” and “Mean people”. The cash flow is getting better as we learn how to navigate the insurance waters and having a more solid marketing plan. The mean people, I still have not found how to get that to roll off of me completely. One recent instance was a patient who was upset he got a bill for $17.12 from us  (no referral was needed and he agreed he self referred himself).  It was either a copay or a deductible amount from the insurance company. He insisted that we stated he was getting a free hearing test. In my 20 years of being an audiologist I have never offered a free hearing test. I may do a free screening here and there, but never a free test. I think it devalues what we as hearing professionals do. Do I understand why some do, I just don’t have to agree with it.

This patient had called the office to complain and as my billing specialist was explaining how insurance works, he got very nasty and hung up on her. He then sent us a letter, not nearly as nice as his phone conversation and threatened to report us to the Better Business Bureau and the State Attorney General. I could have taken many roads on this. So what I did do was explain how his insurance worked and I would include all of the paperwork that was needed to report us. He had signed the section which give us authorization to bill his insurance and he would be responsible for any outstanding balances deemed collectable from his insurance. I suggested he include the letter I sent because I would not tolerate him being abusive to my employees. We email or mail this paperwork well before the appointment so each person has as much time as they need to read every aspect and not feel rushed before they sign.

Was this the best course of action?  Everyone comes up with alternative actions after the fact and our office went over procedures to make sure we explain information to patients as well as we possibly can.  We shall see how this turns out, but writing the letter and all of the drafts made me feel so much better. It only affected me for a couple of nights. By the way, the maternity leave was the only con for buying my own business. I have brought both of my boys to work with me many times and it was one of the best decisions I ever made!

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