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

April 27, 2018

In April 2018, Essential Hospitals Institute began a one-year project funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to promote conversations about the cost of health care.

The cost of health care services greatly influences clinical decision-making and subsequent outcomes. It is important to enable providers, health organizations, and patients to adequately share and receive cost information to ensure the best possible care. Essential hospitals feel unique pressures related to cost due to their vulnerable patient populations, many of whom are under- or uninsured.

This project serves to disseminate findings and associated tools produced by Cost Conversations grantees (a pre-existing funding program from RWJF). These resources highlight the importance of talking about cost and offer tangible tools for patients, providers, and health care organizations.

The following activities will support the dissemination of cost conversation project tools:

  • Online resources: In November 2017, the Institute launched an online resource library to host cost conversation tools, case examples, and other relevant materials from Cost Conversation Project grantees. These tools and resources can raise awareness and understanding among essential hospitals and help them to implement evidence-driven tools to assist in cost-of-care conversations with patients and families.
  • Educational opportunities: The Institute will hold a series of webinars showcasing certain tools and will share content related to cost conversations during America’s Essential Hospitals’ VITAL annual conference.
  • Mini-grant administration: The Institute solicited, reviewed, and selected several mini-grant proposals to provide Cost Conversations grantees additional funding for refining or disseminating tools, resources, or lessons learned from their preexisting work. These six-month projects will begin in late November 2018. A full list of mini-grantees is below.

Cost-of-Care Mini-Grantees:

Eastern AHEC Inc.
Financial Fragility in Patients with Complex Care Plans: Designing a Cost-Planning Tool to Help Patients and CHWs Navigate Complex Care Plans
Project staff will design and deploy a communication support tool to help complex care patients anticipate and plan for the hidden costs of diabetes care.

Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Washington
Cost-of-Care Toolkit for Clinical Teams: Building on Project Orca
Project staff will develop dissemination products for clinical audiences wishing to design workflows to support the increasing need to identify and address patient financial concerns in the clinical setting.

Migrant Clinicians Network Inc. (MCN)
Advancing Cost-of-Care Conversations in Primary Care
Project staff will provide a network of community health centers with a model to create an environment that supports a universal cost conversation policy.

Susan Perez
Right Questions, Wrong Person
Leveraging the Choosing Wisely 5 Questions tool from the ABIM Foundation, project staff will develop and disseminate a cost conversation toolkit for health systems to guide the development of workflows that support: health care personnel in recognizing opportunities for cost conversations; responding to cost questions; and redirecting and referring cost questions to the appropriate health systems personnel when appropriate.

University of Alabama at Birmingham
Cost-of-Care Conversations in Cancer Patients: Recommendations for Implementation
Project staff will develop a manuscript that compares previously collected data on cost of care and develop recommendations on how to conduct cost conversations in the care setting.

University of Rochester Medical Center
Promoting a Team-Based Approach to Patient Costs of Medications Through CME and MOC
Project staff will develop trainings for family physicians to adopt a team-based approach to screening and supporting patients regarding cost of medication.

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