I’m approaching my two year anniversary with the hospital and the hospital just passed its 75th year anniversary. This is the perfect time to share the latest news about our hospital and clinics and talk about some of the changes we have seen.
It’s been a busy two years, with a lot of positive growth and change. For those of you who have visited recently, you will have seen a number of physical changes. We have a new X-ray unit and fluoroscope along with a completely remodeled X-ray room. Our lab draw room has a new adjustable draw chair (courtesy of the Teton Springs Foundation) plus new paint and cabinets. We have repainted and re-furnished the Driggs Health Clinic waiting area. Our Victor clinic has a new ramp. The exterior of the hospital has been spruced up with plants and mulch to replace the gravel. The OR will be painted this weekend.
There are some less visible changes as well; a new ice machine for patients, a pharmacy hood allowing us to support chemotherapy, a new OR bed, and new OR lights. These are not just cosmetic changes; these are investments in your County-owned building. We continue to maintain and improve the hospital, extending its life and making it a more valuable asset for you. Thank you to our Hospital Foundation, multiple charitable groups, the TVHC employees, and others for helping to fund these items.
We’ve added new service lines for cardiology, expanded pain management, general surgery, orthopedics, and neurology. More and expanded offerings are coming this year. Telemedicine is in use; we have been supporting tele-psychiatry, and we just added tele-burn and tele-stroke. These telemedicine additions enable patients to stay here and get care from experts who are based at the University of Utah Health Center and other larger hospitals. We’ve built good working relationships and formal affiliations with UUHC, and with our regional hospitals that enable better pricing on things we buy (by buying jointly), expand the service lines we offer, and improve clinical quality.
We’re focused on our clients and patients. We have required all staff to take training on how to improve their customer service skills. The painting and improvements have been chosen carefully to reflect a standardized design and color palette to offer an atmosphere that is soothing and healing. We’ve achieved a higher, measurable level of accuracy and speed in our patient billing. Your comments and suggestions have generated a number of these process improvements.
We continue to help people understand how to get insurance under the Affordable Care Act and enrolled over 129 families in health insurance. We have increased our outreach to the Hispanic community by employing more bilingual staff and offering awareness programs and materials that focus on their needs. We’re also reaching out proactively to our community with a Community Paramedic Program, providing preventive care to patients in their homes. We are working with Fire on this program to maximize the use of local resources. We’ve also announced to the Ambulance Service District that we would jointly bid with Fire for the next contract to provide ambulance service in the county. By working together we can maximize our training and capabilities, while not increasing our cost to the taxpayer.
Many people were worried when hospital leaders and the Board of County Commissioners agreed to convert the hospital from a county operation to a private non-profit. As we have demonstrated, we have kept the doors open, increased the services we provide, continued to invest and improve in the building that the county still owns. We publish operational statistics and community reports on our website for public review. Our IRS-990 (think of that as the 1040 tax form that a non-profit files) is now complete and will be posted on our website. On that form, you’ll see a list of TVHC’s charitable expenditures that have been made on behalf of our community.
Teton Valley Hospital first opened its doors May 7th 1939. Seventy-five years later, we have a terrific facility, great staff and a strong, supportive community.
Thank you for continuing to show the spirit that built TVHC so many years ago. As always, we welcome comments and suggestions. Please reach out to me at email@example.com or 208-354-6355.
When it comes to making improvements in our billing process, our most valuable resources are our patients and their families. Concerns, complaints and suggestions from our patients have led to changes throughout our entire business cycle including changes in our processes, staff training, and software changes. We get patient complaints for less than one percent of all bills we send out, but we know that doesn’t help if you are the one with a billing issue.
If at any time you or someone you know has a question about their Teton Valley Health Care bill, please be sure to give us a call or send an email or letter requesting assistance. While it may feel therapeutic to turn to your neighbors or Facebook friends, we appreciate direct communication otherwise we won’t know about the problem and can’t fix or answer the concern.
Here’s an overview of how our billing cycle works, along with definitions of different billing terms.
When we send the first statement after a patient visit, it’s a detailed list of services. Every statement thereafter is a summary of the balance remaining, not a detailed list. We believe this provides patients with necessary data, but it doesn’t overwhelm patients by repeating the same details multiple times. If you ever need a detail for any of your visits, we’re happy to provide that for you along with any assistance in understanding the details.
We don’t send a statement for a service until the claim has been processed by the patient’s insurance. This helps to ensure that a patient is only billed for the amount they owe TVHC and that any insurance issues (eligibility, deductibles, and coverage terms) are dealt with before we ask you for payment. We do everything we can to provide a correct claim to your insurer immediately after the care is rendered. We want to see the insurer quickly and correctly process the claim as much as the patient does. If we’ve received incorrect billing information (this is why we always ask for your insurance information when you check in), if the insurance doesn’t process the claim correctly, if the insurance company needs additional information such as accident verification data, or if there are any other problems with the claim, it can take several months for the insurer to process and pay for the claim.
You’ll know when your insurance has processed your claim when you receive an Explanation of Benefits (EOB) that shows what you may still owe after your insurance has paid for any covered services. If you disagree with your EOB, you should contact your insurance provider for clarification. Most claims (bills) are sent to the insurance company and processed by the insurance company within 3 weeks of the date of service, so you should expect a TVHC bill 3-4 weeks after your visit.
Once the patient’s claim is processed by the insurer, or if the patient is uninsured, we send out the first statement with a list outlining the provided services. We then call each guarantor (the person listed as responsible for payment) within two weeks of that first statement to ensure that the statement was received, that it’s correct, and to see if there are any questions regarding the statement. This is not a “collections call”; it’s a courtesy call from our billing office offering to help you with any questions about your bill. If the statement is received and correct, we offer to accept payment immediately (we do accept most major credit cards).
We continue to reach out to the guarantor by phone and in writing (at least monthly) until the balance is paid or a payment plan is established. We work with patients who are unable to pay their bill by offering payment plans, assistance in applying for insurance, or through our financial assistance program. However, if a patient or guarantor doesn’t respond to our letters or calls, or fails to make necessary payment, we refer the person to a collection agency after 120 days. This is an action of last resort.
In addition to your hospital or clinic statement, you may also receive statements from other providers such as radiologists and pathologists. Multiple statements and potentially multiple explanations of benefits from insurance companies can complicate the process.
We want our patients and their families to be as satisfied as possible with our care and we’re available to help you navigate the statements, instructions and explanations that you may receive. We want to hear from you.
As a resident of Teton Valley and as the CEO of Teton Valley Health Care, I am concerned about how TVHC is perceived. If people in our community have a poor perception of our services, prices, or staff, they won’t come to us for their care. I understand that how we treat our patients determines how you (and the people you talk to) feel about the hospital. Like any service organization, if we don’t meet or exceed your expectations, you won’t be happy.
Teton Valley Hospital is a great little community hospital with a lot to offer. Our infection rates are always low (last year it was 0% …) and our clinical quality is high. Our patient satisfaction scores are consistently above 94% for both hospital and clinic services. We have very good equipment and staff. We have a 7×24 emergency room, clinic hours 7 days a week, and we employ over 150 people. In terms of the delivery of medical care and County economic impact, our 75 years of existence have been a crucial asset for Teton Valley.
I know that in the past we had billing issues and operational missteps. I know a number of people in the community were faced with those issues and because of their poor experience with TVHC they’ve chosen not to use our services. The good news is that we have made significant improvements in billing and other processes. The bad news is that many people don’t know that we’ve made clear, consistent improvements, and we believe we’re able to offer a better all-around patient experience.
It takes time to earn and maintain trust, especially after trust has been broken. If you avoid using our hospital or clinics because of a past experience or what you’ve heard second-hand, please give us the opportunity to change your mind. We’re still not perfect, but we are a lot better.
This year, TVHC is going to focus even more on you, the patient, and your family. You’ll see the following changes:
We are training all staff to improve the customer experience. Just like 5-star hotels train their staff to make the customer experience better, we are training all of our staff to better serve you and understand your personal needs. If one of our staff does not meet your needs, please let me know.
We’re improving the look and feel of patient rooms and exam areas such as our blood draw room, clinic admissions, and medical imaging suites. We are replacing our X-ray/fluoroscope with up-to-date equipment and we’re redesigning the X-ray room. The lab room is now complete. Look for the new X-ray equipment and redesigned room in May, and the Driggs clinic changes in June.
We will be adjusting our prices for imaging (e.g., X-ray, cat scans) services to make them more competitive. Look for announcements this summer.
We are investigating new evening clinic hours to accommodate everyone who works during the day.
Teton Valley Health Care is celebrating its 75th anniversary of service this year. We were built by a determined, conscientious community through much self-sacrifice and commitment, and we completed our first year of patient care in 1939. We’ve been through a lot of change together.
Like you, we have to anticipate changing times and that often includes making changes in course and improving how we perform. If you haven’t been here for a while, please consider visiting with us and let me know what you think of us now.