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Hospitals to Get New Tools for Discussing Cost of Care with Vulnerable Patients


WASHINGTON — America’s Essential Hospitals this week kicks off a year-long project to equip hospitals with education and tools to support conversations with vulnerable patients about the cost of health care.

The association’s research arm, Essential Hospitals Institute, will conduct the project with a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). It will build on foundation-funded research last year on the best ways to talk with vulnerable patients about the cost of their care and incorporate these conversations into the clinical workflow.

“The patients our hospitals treat often face language barriers, financial hardships, and low health literacy,” said Bruce Siegel, MD, MPH, president and CEO of America’s Essential Hospitals. “This can hinder their ability to understand the cost of a procedure or to weigh treatment options, which creates gaps in care. We appreciate the support of RWJF as we work to close those gaps.”

Eight grant recipients last year developed the tools the Institute will disseminate in this newly announced project. Among the recipients were two association members: Sinai Urban Health Institute, in Chicago, and the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Key components of the Institute project will be a sortable online repository of cost of care educational materials, tools, and other resources. The project also will feature articles, webinars, and other promotional activities to spread the tools among the association’s 325 member hospitals and health systems, as well as other audiences.

The Institute also will work with RWJF and its partners to administer additional small grants to researchers and other providers to more broadly disseminate the cost of care conversation resources.

“This project aligns well with our commitment to transparency and to improving population health by influencing how social determinants impact health and health care access,” said Kalpana Ramiah, DrPH, the Institute’s director and the association’s vice president of innovation. “We’re grateful to RWJF for partnering with us on this and other work to overcome the social and economic factors that create health disparities.”

The association last year launched another RWJF-funded project, Essential Communities, to share member programs that create positive changes in population health.

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About America’s Essential Hospitals
America’s Essential Hospitals is the leading champion for hospitals and health systems dedicated to high-quality care for all, including the most vulnerable. We support our 325 members with advocacy, policy development, research, and education. Communities depend on essential hospitals to provide specialized, lifesaving services; train the health care workforce; advance public health and health equity; and coordinate care. Essential hospitals innovate and adapt to lead the way to more effective and efficient care. Learn more at

About Essential Hospitals Institute
Essential Hospitals Institute is the research and quality arm of America’s Essential Hospitals. The Institute supports the nation’s essential hospitals as they provide high-quality, equitable, and affordable care to their communities. Working with members of America’s Essential Hospitals, we identify promising practices from the field, conduct research, disseminate innovative strategies, and help our members improve their organizational performance. We do all of this with an eye toward improving individual and population health, especially for vulnerable people.

Carl Graziano


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