Geisinger's bold move: give refunds to dissatisfied patients

ProvenExperience app lets patients choose money-back amount
By Jessica Davis
05:17 AM
patient in exam room

In a novel initiative, Geisinger Health System is launching a refund program for patients not met with "kindness and compassion," President and CEO David T. Feinberg, MD, announced this week.

The pilot was introduced at the 2015 Press Ganey Executive Leadership Conference in Orlando Tuesday, as an expansion to the institution's ProvenCare program, which is designed to improve population health and reduce readmissions and mortality rates using evidence-base methods.

"The way I see it, if you go into Starbucks and you're not happy with your order, they don't sip your latte and argue they made it correctly," Feinberg said in a press release announcing the program. "They just take care of you on the spot."

Under the ProvenExperience program, surgery patients can use a Geisinger-developed app to rate their experience using a sliding scale. Those who felt unfairly treated by office staff can use the app to determine the amount of their refund, from $1 to $2000, depending on their copay amount. Refunds are processed within three to five business days.

Feinberg believes patients won't abuse the opportunity, but rather will "stick to the honor system."

Perhaps unsurprisingly, however, the program was met with skepticism, if not resistance, from other high-ranking executives.

"In the beginning, I talked to other health system CEOs and industry leaders about ProvenExperience and they all said, 'Don't do it.' I really felt dejected," Feinberg said.

"Then I thought about Kodak executives discussing digital photography and Blockbuster talking about online video options. Were they also told 'Don't do it?' That's when I said to myself, 'We're doing it,'" he said

Some may believe the idea of refunding money to patients "extreme," Feinberg said, but Geisinger is dedicated to re-focusing healthcare on "returning to the core of what we're supposed to do when given the privilege to take care of others."

"I don't know if a money-back guarantee or warranty is the right way to do it, but I do know if we don't figure out how to do it, somebody else is going to do it," Feinberg told more than 300 healthcare professionals and students at the Health Care Symposium at Misericordia University on Friday, according to the Times Leader.