(Story updated at 7:30 p.m. ET with comment from HFMA President and CEO Joseph Fifer.)
Responding to heightened scrutiny of hospital billing and collection practices, the Healthcare Financial Management Association on Sunday released new guidelines aimed at improving provider communications with patients about paying for care.
The proposed guidelines come more than a year after a Minnesota attorney general investigation of Accretive Health, a publicly traded revenue-cycle management firm, for alleged violations of patient privacy and consumer protection laws while pursuing patients for non-payment of bills owed several regional hospital chains. A settlement agreement forced Accretive to cease doing business in the state.
Accretive said in May 2012 that it would fund a panel to draft patient collection standards but had not yet selected a partner to develop the guidelines. Co-founder and former CEO Mary Tolan served on the steering committee for the HFMA initiative.
HFMA President and CEO Joseph Fifer acknowledged that Accretive “got the ball rolling,” but denied that the action in Minnesota spurred the new standards. “It was never part of our conversation,” he said.
The group released the guidelines at the start of its Annual National Institute in Orlando, Fla., and will accept public comments through July 31. The group hopes healthcare organizations will adopt the voluntary guidelines beginning in the fall.