Hospitals are now conducting wealth screenings with software that culls public data to see which patients are most likely to donate to the healthcare organization, The New York Times reported. The practice is increasingly common across hospitals, particularly large systems.
When these patients are identified, they may receive a visit from a hospital executive and even extra amenities, “like a bathrobe or a nicer waiting area for their families,” the NYT reported. Hospitals also target patients who express gratitude for their care.
While not illegal, the practice, called grateful patient programs, helps supplement income stream from private and public insurance programs and other funds raised. In fact, a 2013 federal law made it easier for hospitals to target their patients for donations, and few patients are aware they can decline to be solicited. Nationwide, hospital donations reached $10.4 billion in 2017, according to the report.
Concerns have arisen that the practice could influence doctors to treat patients differently if they've donated.
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