The Healthcare Financial Management Association has issued best practices for patient financial communications in various provider settings.

The practices call for annual training of point-of-service staff and cover such areas as the emergency department, communications at the time of service outside of emergency or in advance of services, and other types of patient financial interactions as well as measuring compliance.

Best practices in the emergency department, for instance, cover 22 processes such as ensuring no financial discussions occur before the patient is screened and stabilized, that the organization first gather basic registration information and determine potential need for financial assistance, and that patients will be informed that ability to pay will not interfere with treatment of any emergency conditions.

Former U.S. Secretary Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt, now a consultant, led a one-year program to develop the practices and former HHS Secretary Donna Shalala also participated. Organizations contributing to the effort included the American Hospital Association, America’s Health Insurance Plans, American Academy of Family Physicians and the National Patient Advocate Foundation. The best practices toolkit is available here.

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