Healthcare providers nationwide are preparing for CMS’ final rule on price transparency to take effect Oct. 1, 2021. As recent data shows that healthcare is the largest part of the American family’s budget after housing, many providers are struggling to ensure their patients have a clear understanding of what costs they’re responsible for.
During an Oct. 6 workshop hosted by Becker’s Hospital Review and sponsored by Waystar, Heather Kawamoto, Waystar’s vice president of product, discussed price transparency strategies for hospitals and health systems to increase their net revenues and patient loyalty.
Five key considerations she explained:
- Have conversations with patients about out-of-pocket costs sooner than later. When healthcare providers make a patient aware of how much money they will likely be responsible for, they increase the likelihood that the patient will accept care. Many patients don’t trust the numbers produced by price-estimation tools that many hospitals offer, so one-on-one conversations can build a great deal of trust, according to Ms. Kawamoto.
- Break down the estimated price. Ms. Kawamoto pointed out that the average patient’s healthcare literacy is significantly lower than that of their provider. Many patients may not understand that one hospital’s estimated cost could include the anesthesiologist’s charges, preoperative procedures and so forth, while a competing hospital’s estimated cost does not.
- Assemble a cross-functional working group. Hospitals should consider including members from IT, patient access, patient financial services, legal, compliance, managed care and charge description master. This will ensure everyone is working collaboratively to ensure the hospital is prepared for all CMS deadlines.
- Create a plan to track the effectiveness of any price transparency tool. Ms. Kawamoto stressed that healthcare providers rolling out price transparency tools need to measure the tool’s performance by tracking metrics like debt decreases, reduction of price-related calls and tool engagement.
- Train staff to support patient questions on the price transparency tool. Patients hearing about a new price transparency tool isn’t enough. They need to know how to use it, and hospitals need to make sure their patient-facing staff is well-trained in how to explain the tool’s functionality.
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