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How Should You Discuss Medical Bills with Patients?

Rene Letourneau, for HealthLeaders Media, November 4, 2013

"Every environment is a little different, but if the industry can rally around a set of common ways to go about having these conversations, it will be a step toward making it more understandable for patients," he adds.

Outlined in the new protocols are guidelines for:

  • Emergency department interactions. This best practice provides the needed guidelines for dealing with financial interactions with patients who present in the emergency department.
  • Time of service (outside the ED) interactions. This set of best practices provides the needed guidelines for handling financial interactions with patients that take place at the time of service, outside the ED.
  • Advance of service interactions. This set of best practices provides the needed guidelines for managing the most sensitive financial interactions with patients that take place in advance of service.
  • Best practices for all patient financial interactions. This overarching set of best practices provides the needed guidelines to help provider organizations handle the most sensitive financial interactions with patients.
  • Measurement criteria. These criteria were developed to guide organizations in the evaluation of their staff training, use of technology and metrics, and compliance with patient financial best practices.

Fifer says providers are likely to follow these guidelines because adherence will lead to increased patient satisfaction if "we can make the process more understandable. People may not like the level of their deductible, but if they understand it early in the process, there will be higher patient satisfaction."

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