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Whether it’s declining to prescribe an antibiotic you know isn’t necessary to a patient who insists that it is or working through a billing issue, conflicts with patients are going to arise in your urgent care center. And when they do, how the matter is handled can make the difference between having a respectful disagreement and getting blasted online (or worse). An extreme example is playing out across mainstream and social media right now, as a patient is telling anyone who will listen how badly he feels he’s been treated by his insurer as he goes through cancer treatment—even though the company ultimately resolved the dispute in his favor. The lingering issue, as reported by Becker’s Payer Issues, is the perceived lack of empathy on the part of the payer. It all began when Anthem Blue Cross left the patient with a $40,000 bill related to his cancer treatment. He took his case directly to the insurer while also complaining on TikTok (where his rants drew more than 900,000 views). Ultimately, Anthem reduced the charges to $61 in copays. The patient felt he was owed not only that but an apology, and thus has continued to blast Anthem, saying that the company lacks “empathy” and “compassion” and is “impossible to work with.” There’s no telling if anything could satisfy this patient’s rage, or whether the original charges were or were not appropriate, but the cautionary moral of the story is that patient’s care deeply how they’re treated. Patience, recognition, and respect may be enough to leave even unsatisfied patients with the sense that they’ve been treated well overall.

When Communicating with Patients, Tone Matters—and the Wrong One Can Cost You