Bedside Collections: Growing Trend or Potential Controversy?

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Will patient financial services professionals need training in bedside manner?

Over on Forbes.com, I write about how healthcare providers and their debt collection partners have teamed up to create best practices for collecting medical debt. As we reported last week, a combined HFMA and ACA task force has drafted those guidelines, but has yet to release them to be reviewed.

One of the growing trends in patient financial services is bedside collections. At last month’s HFMA annual conference, several hospitals reported they had instituted the practice, which had resulted in increased collections. The concept of collecting during an inpatient stay made some healthcare professionals decidedly uncomfortable.

There may be good reason behind the hesitation of implementing such a practice. Last year the University of Minnesota Medical Center came under fire by the state attorney general for its collection practices with special mention made of its attempts to collect from patients in the emergency room. At least one bill in Congress attempted (but failed) to ban the practice. There was no indication, pro or con, from the HFMA/ACA task force where it stood on such methods.

While inpatient treatment may not be quite the same as the emergency room, it is only by degrees. As I point out at Forbes.com, lawmakers and regulators are making it increasingly difficult for healthcare providers to collect what they are owed by people who are more than able to pay. Something’s gotta give.

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Posted in Medical Receivables, Patient Access, Patient Financial Services .

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