Refund Program Approaches One-Year Mark at Geisinger

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MAHONING TOWNSHIP -- Almost one year after Geisinger Health System unveiled a refund plan like no other in the country, hospital officials are reviewing the results.

The Proven Experience program gives refunds to patients who are not happy with their care.

Officials at Geisinger say they're happy with the program as it approaches its one-year mark. So far, the health system has given out refunds to around 400 patients totaling around $400,000. While that may seem like a lot, Geisinger Health System sees around three million patients a year.

Bill Huntington of Berwick has been a patient at Geisinger Medical Center near Danville for about 50 years.

Wouldn't go anyplace else," he said, adding he's happy with the care he gets. "The appointments are always on time, never have to wait. If I have a medical question, I call on the telephone, I get my answer."

If he wasn't happy with his care, he could get a refund. That's because, for the last 11 months, Geisinger Health System ran a program called Proven Experience. If patients aren't happy, they simply get a refund.

"We talk to them, we get the story so we know what went wrong and then we make the adjustments behind the scenes, either send them a check or forgive a payment that's due," explained chief patient experience officer Dr. Greg Burke.

Dr. Burke was instrumental in forming the Proven Experience program. It's the first of its kind in the country. Burke says so far in the past 11 months, around 400 patients have asked for a refund, totaling around $400,000. To put that into perspective, Geisinger Health System sees around three million patients a year.

"I think if we fail one patient, it's important, so I don't tend to look at the statistics. I think from our point of view, the most important things are the lessons that we learn," said Dr. Burke.

If people aren't happy with their service they can call, email, or use Geisinger's cell phone app to file their report.

For better communication, all Geisinger Health System employees are trained through the C.I. Care model to provide better care to patients.

"We're trying to get our appointment times to occur quicker, our emergency room times to be reduced, things of that nature," Dr. Burke added. "I think it's also the right ethical thing to do, to return money for very poor service. It just seems the right thing to do."

When asked if he thought patients would take advantage of the program, Dr. Burke said that has not been the experience. He believes if patients trust Geisinger with their lives, the doctors should trust the patients to be honest.