New Paper Finds Ways To Save Lives And Reduce Costs In Healthcare Transactions

The U.S. economy transmits over 18 billion electronic payments each year, yet approximately half of all healthcare financial transactions are still paper based. Costs of paper, printing, postage and labor for manual processes in healthcare are estimated to add up

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The U.S. economy transmits over 18 billion electronic payments each year, yet approximately half of all healthcare financial transactions are still paper-based. Costs of paper, printing, postage and labor for manual processes in healthcare are estimated to add up to nearly $30 billion a year in waste, according to statistics. As healthcare reforms are considered in Washington and in all 50 states, administrative savings represent a bright spot — low-hanging fruit — that could help pay for longer-term reforms.

To help inform this dialogue, Emdeon, in cooperation with the Center for Health Transformation, unveiled an important whitepaper at the HIMSS 2009 Annual Conference. The whitepaper, “Taking the Paper Out of Paperwork: How Electronic Administration Can Save The U.S. Health System Billions,” looks at the gaps in the industry that keep it dependent on manual processing – and offers practical steps for breaking this costly and inefficient cycle.

The whitepaper provides a step-by-step roadmap for both payers and providers and highlights practices that are delivering tangible results today. This pragmatic approach leverages technology and infrastructure that already exist – and provides a vision for a new kind of industry collaboration.

“It’s not about infrastructure,” says George Lazenby, chief executive officer of Emdeon. “The infrastructure is there, and the technology exists. All the constituents are looking for ways to optimize their business processes.”

Among the barriers cited are lack of integration, lack of complete standards, competing priorities between stakeholders and a perceived lack of value to healthcare providers.

“We see higher adoption of electronic healthcare transactions when they meet the needs of both providers and payers,” says Lazenby. “It’s about making the information available at the point where decisions need to be made.”

Recommendations outlined in the whitepaper include:

For Payers

-Develop and pilot reimbursement programs that reward quality healthcare practice and results, including electronic information exchange.

-Ensure all future information technology development is done according to industry standards.

-Collaborate around multi-payer functionality, understanding that providers want a single resource for interacting with health plans.

For Providers

-Keep abreast of federal funding opportunities for health information technology.

-Include process re-engineering for an electronic end-to-end eligibility, claims and payment process in electronic medical record (EMR) implementation strategies.

-Work with medical societies and specialty groups to advance national standardization goals.

“In these trying economic times, combined with the specter of unsustainable spending, Medicare insolvency and runaway growth in Medicaid, we must find those IT solutions that can not only save lives but can also lower costs,” says Newt Gingrich, former house speaker, founder of the Center for Health Transformation.

The full copy of whitepaper is available on Emdeon’s site .

L.D.

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