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Cost Conversations: 3 Time-Saving Tips

Posted: 04/16/2019
Category: Patient Empowerment Resources

A one minute1 cost conversation can have a powerful effect on physician/patient relationships, medication adherence and outcomes. Yet, at a short visit with a complex patient, one minute may feel like an eternity. So it’s no surprise that time is considered a major barrier for implementation. Here are 3 tips that other practices have used to overcome the time barrier and implement cost conversations into their workflow:

Use Your People Resources

Make the most of the knowledge in your practice by involving multiple staff members in answering questions and providing guidance. The billing department can access insurance portals and get plan information, social workers can find patient assistance programs, IT can get the most out of technology and other physicians can share experiences. Don’t forget patients too!  Sometimes they are the best source of information, especially when it comes to the cost of medications and immunizations.

Make it Universal

The most important part of normalizing cost conversations and financial screening is removing assumptions. Early adopters have uncovered previously undetected medication and adherence issues that were due to cost. Screening is also a great conversation starter. Many physicians were hesitant to introduce the cost topic at first, but the overwhelming, positive feedback from patients has changed their minds!

Have Patient Handouts

Of the many tools and resources NYACP has shared with our members and early adopters, the patient handouts have been the most utilized. Staff members have remarked they are now more prepared to answer patient questions about basic insurance information. Handouts are helpful when numerous topics have been discussed at a visit or to gently re-direct a conversation that has gotten off track! NYACP has created handouts for medications, insurance literacy, avoiding surprise bills and the Medicare Donut Hole that are all available on the Patient Empowerment Resources page.


  1. Hunter WG, ZhangCZ, HessonA,et al.What strategies do physicians and patients discuss to reduce out-of-pocket costs? Analysis of cost-saving strategies in 1,755 outpatient clinic visits.Med Decision Making. 2016;36 (7):900-910. doi:10.1177/0272989X15626384

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