Geisinger: Money-back guarantee improves patient trust


In the nine months since Pennsylvania's Geisinger Health System unveiled a new money-back guarantee initiative, the organization has refunded close to $100,000 to about 100 unhappy patients, and system executives say it proves that they’re serious about providing quality care.

But other providers--even clinicians within the Geisinger system--don't buy into the idea that the customer is always right, according to Medscape Medical News. The idea of offering refunds to patients is so beyond the norm, according to the article, that a number of health plans and providers contacted by Medscape declined to even discuss the idea.

“They think we’re nuts, still,” David Feinberg, M.D., Geisinger’s CEO, told Medscape. Feinberg, though, told the publication that Geisinger remains committed to the program as it turns a culture he views as too provider-centered on its head. “When you give a warranty or guarantee, you can either do it because you’re really good and you’re not going to have to give anything back, or you have a really bad product,” Feinberg added.

Geisinger's "ProvenExperience" initiative covers any patient who may receive care at one of its 12 hospitals and two research centers. Thus far, complaints have mostly been satisfaction-related, such as long waits, poor food, financial issues and communication concerns. Feinberg told Medscape that patients who have these types of concerns don't typically seek a full refund.

Yet some of Geisinger physicians remain leery of the program, according to Medscape, fearing that patients may take advantage of them and the system.

Greg Burke, M.D., Geisinger’s chief patient experience officer and also an internist who practices in the system, said that though some complaints had seemed ridiculous--one patient requested a refund because a physician yawned during a visit--the notion that the program is inherently unfair to clinicians is not accurate. 

Feinberg also disputed concerns that a program like ProvenExperience would pave the way for more patient lawsuits. He told Medscape that he sees the program as a potential way to pacify litigious patients. He said that the system may not admit to an error, but the refund shows they’ve heard the patient’s concerns and are listening--which builds trust.

- read the Medscape article