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HFMA Releases Proposed Guidelines for Patient Financial Interactions

June 17, 2013
by Rajiv Leventhal
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Guidelines are open for public comment until July 31

The Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA) has announced the release of a draft of new best practices that will bring more consistency, clarity, and transparency to patient financial interactions.

The guidelines were released during ANI: The Healthcare Finance Conference on June 16 in Orlando, Fla. The proposed best practices were created by a steering committee that met monthly over the past year and included leaders from HFMA, the National Patient Advocate Foundation, the American Hospital Association, Harvard Medical School, and America’s Health Insurance Plans, among others.

The proposed best practices focus on financial interactions when medical services are scheduled as well as when emergency and non-emergency care is delivered. These practices provide guidance regarding when and how communication should take place about patient insurance coverage, financial counseling, patient financial responsibility for service, and any existing balance the patient may have. The best practices emphasize open and early communication, the sharing of clear information, and the identification of a path for financial resolution that is fair for patients and healthcare organizations alike.

The draft of Patient Financial Interaction (PFI) best practices can be viewed online, where comments on the proposed best practices may be submitted. Patient feedback also will be solicited in the coming months. The resulting final practices will be released in the fall for voluntary adoption by healthcare organizations across the country.

“Healthcare financial interactions can be complex and confusing because of complicated payment structures, dozens of different payers and forms, and varied government programs,” said Joseph J. Fifer, president and CEO of HFMA. “When you add the reality that patients are becoming responsible for greater proportions of their healthcare costs, clear guidelines and communication are more important than ever. These best practices are a critical component of HFMA’s ongoing effort to establish more consistent financial practices that are fair to all stakeholders while helping patients access and pay for the healthcare they need.”

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