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Throughout November, ACCC hosted the Financial Advocacy Network Virtual Summit, which featured financial advocacy experts facilitating a series of webinars to address a variety of topics of interest for financial advocates and their allies. Each of the webinars described below have been recorded for viewing at your convenience. Register for free access here.
Promoting Discussions of Cost With Newly Diagnosed Patients
Given that up to half of all patients with cancer experience financial toxicity, and that some patients even forego treatment due to high costs, the Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit, MI, partnered with cancer survivors and clinicians to develop tools that can help patients better prepare for handling the cost of their treatment. Karmanos recently launched for its patients the DIScussions of COst (DISCO) app—a scalable, customizable tool that educates patients about treatment costs and prompts early discussions with their oncologist about their options.
While designing this patient communication intervention, Lauren Hamel, PhD, recognized that oncologists may not be comfortable talking to their patients about costs. To remedy this, an oncologist tip sheet was created that includes reasons to discuss treatment costs with patients, potential barriers to treatment, and suggested responses to patient questions.
“The immediate reaction of oncologists is they don’t have cost discussions with patients because they don’t have the answers,” says Dr. Hamel. “But oncologists know more than they give themselves credit for. Physicians handle it quite efficiently and well. If a patient has a question they don’t know how to address, they can refer the patient to another team member, such as a social worker or financial navigator.”
Tracking Financial Assistance Benefits with Dedicated EHR Workflows
Effectively tracking patient applications for free medications or copay assistance can be an unwieldy, time-consuming, and frustrating task, putting patients at risk of falling through the cracks. By having its revenue cycle and patient access staff collaborate to develop an efficient method of tracking patients who have applied for financial aid, St. Luke’s Cancer Institute in Boise, ID, has effectively increased patient satisfaction and reduced billing errors. In this session, financial advocates from St. Luke’s explain how they built into their EHR a process that allows for a dedicated standardized review of billing free medication.
“Thirty percent of our patients qualify for free drug assistance,” says Rifeta Kajdic, the oncology program manager at St. Luke's Health System. “We set out on this process improvement initiative because manual processes for free drugs resulted in mistakes and patients receiving incorrect statements, insurance receiving incorrect claims, and the customer service department having extra work.”
Monitoring Your Revenue Cycle with a Fiscal Watchdog
Designating a “fiscal watchdog” to oversee the functions of your revenue cycle can go a long way toward ensuring the accuracy of your registration and authorization information, claims data, and chargemaster. Speakers from Maine Medical Center Cancer Institute discuss how to best address the billing issues that may result in revenue loss and how to best communicate to patients the availability of financial assistance resources. Louise Baca, MSN, RN, senior director of oncology, explains how she put together a business case for recruiting an oncology revenue integrity analyst (AKA fiscal watchdog) to “mitigate a significant percentage of denials directly related to lack of prior authorizations and lack of medical necessity, as well as retroactively recapture dollars left on the table.”
Navigating the Unique Financial Challenges of Radiation Oncology
Financial advocates who serve radiation oncology departments require specific knowledge and skills to help patients avoid financial toxicity. In this webinar, expert panelists discuss the unique financial concerns of radiation oncology patients, strategies for insurance optimization, support for transportation and basic needs, and the role of financial advocates in overcoming health inequity.
Karen Winkfield, MD, PhD, a practicing radiation oncologist and executive director of the Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance in Nashville, TN, underscores the importance of physicians recognizing the direct and indirect financial impacts of radiation therapy on patients, particularly regarding transportation and necessary time off from work. Francinna Scott Jones, financial coordinator, and Lauren McKee, patient resource specialist, at Northside Hospital in Atlanta, GA, share how they and their teams promote financial health literacy and build trust with patients to better understand the barriers they may be facing.
Financial Advocacy Network Town Hall
Financial Advocacy Network Chair Lori Schneider—the oncology operations manager at Green Bay Oncology in Green Bay, WI—shares tips on how to enhance your professional growth and financial navigation skills by networking and building relationships internally and externally with community-based organizations, field reimbursement representatives, and specialty pharmacy representatives. For the last part of the virtual event, participants were grouped into geographically specific regional panels to address the concerns of their regions and discuss issues related to open enrollment, onboarding new financial advocates, copay accumulators, and tracking and measuring impact.
To view any of these webinars, register for free access and watch them at your convenience.