And we say we provide customer service….

I saw this article, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/05/health/think-the-er-was-expensive-look-at-the-ambulance-bill.html?_r=0 , recently and it made me wonder.

In the realm of private EMS, it seems like all the rage these days in high performance EMS is about customer service.  Now if you’re in any other business and the salesman doesn’t have all the information, he isn’t going to do very well.  Somehow though, in EMS sending out the salesman(medic), performing what amounts to scare tactics followed by lack of information is not only considered acceptable, it’s the preferred method.

I’ve seen very few places, maybe I’m not looking in the right places, that inform their medics of all the various charges that the patient may encounter.  Now, if I go into other businesses, I can easily be shown the charges up front prior to being provided with the service.  Even in other medical realms if you ask nicely, you’ll get the costs up front.  But routinely in EMS I’ve seen where you can’t seem to get any sort of straight answer other than we can only tell you how much it’ll cost after you take the ride.  Sounds kind of like the oft quoted statement from Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi “…we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it…”

Not really the way I’d want to run a business or provide great customer care.  But I’m probably not running those places for some reason beyond my ability to comprehend.  And all along I thought we were here for the patients….my bad.

Rosenthal, Elisabeth. “Think the E.R. Is Expensive? Look at How Much It Costs to Get There.” The New York Times. N.p., 4 Dec. 2013. Web. 4 Dec. 2013. <http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/05/health/think-the-er-was-expensive-look-at-the-ambulance-bill.html?_r=0&gt;.

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2 thoughts on “And we say we provide customer service….

  1. That’s not a particularly well written article. I’m a bit surprised that Jay Fitch doesn’t mention, nor does anyone else, that there is more to EMS than a “ride” to the hospital.

    Nor are EMS systems supposed to bill based on staffing. They are supposed to bill based on patient condition and the required level of care. I wonder if anyone in the 661 comments on the site mentioned that? If they did, she apparently ignored it.

    • I’ll agree about the article not being up to Pulitzer prize winning material status. The problem is whether or not EMS is more than just a “ride” the vast majority of the populations we serve believe that we are little more than taxi drivers.

      Just to be devil’s advocate here, couldn’t staffing at a certain point adversely affect patient care and thus the ability to bill based on care actually provided regardless of appropriateness and patient condition?

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