Lunch-n-Learn appleAs day-to-day representatives of the organizations we serve, how do we recognize if we are really listening to, understanding, and connecting with our patient, vendor and client needs? How are we checking our understanding and ensuring satisfaction when providing medical billing customer service? Internally, when we need help, how can each of us listen to our team members to understand the strengths and challenges to see an issue through to resolve?

At one of Outsource Receivables Lunch & Learn sessions we asked just these questions. Our goal was to provide listening skills and techniques that create real understanding, and hopefully better connections for our medical billing customer service. When an employee creates a successful connection with a co-worker or customer, it can have profound implications for company productivity and even profitability. But how do we accomplish this? The Lunch & Learn focused on specific listening skills and how these help us connect with our clients, business collaborators and our co-workers.

Our Lunch & Learn employed a short presentation, a tip sheet, and interactive exercises – and don’t forget the pizza! We provided points on observation skills to help staff learn to look and identify when disagreement or miscommunication is happening. A review of emotional skills and the ability to recognize when something has been taken the wrong way or misunderstood was provided. Skills were provided to refrain from quick judgments and how to keep an open mind. Furthermore, recognizing internally when we are becoming emotionally engaged and need to step back for a self-check.

Even with the best techniques and intentions, conversations can still go awry. If you feel a misunderstanding has taken place a contrasting statement helps to articulate specifically what you do mean, and just as important – what you don’t mean. Moreover, describing what you expected in comparison to what you heard or received can help others take a moment to reflect on their own understanding and expectations.

Poor listening skills will get you in difficult situations much quicker, especially in medical billing customer service. Sometimes conscious or unconsciously, we contribute to poor listening by:

        • Giving advice, making suggestions, or providing solutions
        • Persuading with logic, arguing, or lecturing
        • Moralizing, or telling clients what they “should” do
        • Disagreeing, judging, criticizing, or blaming
        • Agreeing, approving, or praising
        • Reassuring, sympathizing, or consoling
        • Questioning or probing, interpreting or analyzing

However, sometimes giving advice, making suggestions or providing solutions falls into our professional responsibility. We can only be effective after we have really listened, understood, and checked our understanding with the patient or client.

Outsource Receivables mission is to lessen the complexity of healthcare reimbursement and that includes medical billing customer service. Having strong listening skills is critical to achieving this mission. By understanding how others interpret the complexities of healthcare, bridging understanding, and providing meaningful solutions we can achieve mutually beneficial results.

Kit Welchlin is a Minneapolis area professional that ORI has worked with in the past for employee development. Check out his fun (and educational) video on the topic of listening skills: Aren’t Hearing and Listening the Same Thing?

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