"Poor staff attitude"

About: Kerang Medical Clinic

(as the patient),

I had been sick and been to the Kerang Medical Clinic 4 times in 5 days. I was told by the doctor that my appointment on the Wednesday and Friday could be bulked bill. I had been back for a week after that for appointments with the nurse and paid for all of these appointments. I have since received a bill for one of the appointments and have called regarding this and spoke with a staff member who has been nothing but rude and horrible when I spoke to them the first time. I explained what the doctor had said that it would be bulked billed and that it was never mentioned when I had been there after that appointment.

The staff member said they were going to talk to the doctor and call me back. When they rang back the staff member was very abrupt and rude again and I asked if I could please speak to the doctor they said they would get the doctor to call me back. I didn't hear from anyone again until I received an overdue notice to which I called again and left a message for that staff member to call me back as no one else could help me. The staff member never called me back.

This has been going on since earlier in the year. The staff member finally called me back today after I called again and said I was told 2 appointments were to be bulked billed to which I replied only one had been. The staff member then said I would be getting a black mark against my name and that it would be good if I didn't come back there.

I work in customer service and I have never had anyone be so rude and horrible in the way they have spoken to people. I have told other people about this and they have all come back with stories about how rude this staff member has been to them at some stage or another. I normally don't complain and will just let it be water off a duck’s back but this staff member has upset me every time I have tried to sort this out and I just didn't know what to do anymore. If I was told at the time that the doctor has changed their mind and I would have to pay for it I would have but not after the fact and months later.

Responses

Response from Chloe Keogh, Director of Clinical Services, Kerang District Health

picture of Chloe Keogh

Dear lacertaxf36,

Thank you for taking the time to write about your experience at Kerang Medical Clinic, and describing the confusing communication about the billing process for your appointments, and the approach of the medical receptionists towards your queries.

I would really like to talk to you face to face, (or at least by phone) and would be happy to meet you to discuss your situation so that I can be clear on what has happened and over what period of time. I can be contacted on 03 54509210, or emailed on ckeogh@kerhosp.vic.gov.au if you would like to send me an email with a contact number to phone you on.

I look forward to hearing from you in the near future.

Kind Regards

Chloe

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Response from Chloe Keogh, Director of Clinical Services, Kerang District Health We are preparing to make a change

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Dear lacertaxf36,

Thank you so much for taking the time to phone me today, and for clarifying some aspects of your journey. It was good to listen to your story and hear what had happened to you over this period of time.

My role is the Director of Clinical Services at Kerang District Health and part of this role is the Executive supporting the Kerang Medical Clinic, which has been why I have been involved in following up your situation.

On investigation with the Practice Manager, I believe that there was a number of miscommunications in your journey. I would like to take this opportunity to apologise to you for these communication issues. Communication with people when they are feeling unwell is very important, and I believe that in the process of following up the billing with you these issues actually escalated rather than improved, despite good intentions. The communication issues were about how many visits were to be bulk billed and then that confused what amount was owed, and this was impacted by the time that it took for the Kerang Medical Clinic to return your calls questioning some of these matters, then there were some communication issues with the manner of following up with your questions.

I will follow up with the points that you make with the Kerang Medical Clinic Practice Manager and we will look at how we address billing issues moving forward, that keeps the patient well informed, able to explain their situation and to come to a solution.

Again, thank you for speaking about your experience, and sharing with readers how things were for you.

Kind Regards

Chloe

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Response from Chloe Keogh, Director of Clinical Services, Kerang District Health We have made a change

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Dear lacertaxf36,

Please accept my apologies for taking so long to get back in touch with you.

This has been a long and lengthy conversation, with reception staff, the practice manager and the Doctors. We have changed a few of the processes in the clinic (behind the scenes) so that this situation will not happen again. I will list the changes so that you have some understanding:

1. The Doctors are now trying to speak with the patient about the billing process at the start of the consultation, so that there are not any surprises when you go to pay. This is important because some people come to a 15 minute appointment with 8 things that they want to discuss, that would take 60 minutes to go through, so the Doctors are trying to address the most important issues and then making arrangements to have the other things on the list attended to at another appointment time- this is to try and run on time, and support the community getting in to a Doctor when needed.

2. The Doctors are communicating with the reception staff the billing for the patient. Reception are encouraged and supported to contact the GP at this point if they feel that there is a discrepancy between what the patient was expecting to be billed.

3. At the end of each day the practice manager checks each Doctor's billing, and then the Doctor checks it, to ensure that it matches what was expected. This is a double-check for the billing amounts, and whilst it may not have stopped your discrepancy, it does ensure that the billing for the day is being carefully checked.

4. Communication about billing issues. The clinic has a billing policy that is available for people to read. Billing is based on a schedule set by medicare, which is a combination of the length of time of the appointment, and then what is done in the appointment, and what was treated. All the clinic staff are aware that the process for billing is complicated and they are all (from your story) trying to communicate clearly the information that patients need to know, to avoid any confusion or miscommunication.

I hope these changes will support any patients into the future who may have billing issues at the clinic. I would like to thank you for taking the time to tell your story, and whilst these changes are too late to avoid the experience you had, I do hope that they can help prevent the same thing happening in the future.

Kind Regards

Chloe

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Updates, changes and questions related to this story

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