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Hospital Offers New Service: Customer Refunds

(Unrelated photo by Graham Mitchell)

Did you have an unsatisfactory customer service experience with the Geisinger Health System in Pennsylvania? Unlike a lot of hospitals, Geisinger is actively thinking about the patience experience as a customer one. It's created an app that lets customers voice their dissatisfaction and get refunds when they've met rude, careless, or otherwise inadequate hospital employees. The Washington Post reports:

One 49-year-old patient received a $210 refund in February after an appointment left her in tears. “Pt felt like they didn’t care and did not have her best interest at heart. Pt. stated she came to Geisinger b/c she trusted us, she has no trust now,” according to the financial authorization for the refund.

Karen Hull was upset, too, and not just over the chicken panini that took hours to be delivered after her successful surgery in January. Several weeks earlier, the Geisinger Medical Center finance department had blindsided the 46-year-old dental hygienist with a call for a “down payment” on her operation, for a herniated disc that had caused crippling pain.

“I remember thinking, it’s not like I’m going to skip out on my back surgery,” she said. She wound up paying $100 toward her $2,375 co-payment.

After she got home, she asked for a $150 refund — an amount that reflected her distress but didn’t make her look “hoggish.”

It's a novel approach to hospital care. But health care executive Ceci Connolly says that it shouldn't be:

“It is sad and ironic that a business that has decided to listen to its customers and be responsive and even occasionally refund some money is considered so out-of-the box,” Connolly noted.

-via Marginal Revolution

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My local hospital demands a co-payment before surgery, or at least a credit card number they can hold. Yeah, they send out survey sheets afterward about your experience, but the idea of a refund would never come into it.
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This is a terrible idea unless they're planning to fully staff the hospital. Most nurses and hospital staff are overworked, and (if my mother is any indication) a lot of patients are unreasonably demanding.
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