E-Billing Pays Off

Physician's Money Digest, February28 2003, Volume 10, Issue 4

Although some surveys show that physicianshaven't embraced the concept of communicatingwith patients via the computer, the benefits ofusing computer-based systems to file claims are payingoff. A survey by MediNetwork (www.medinetwork.net), shows that computer-based office managementsystems lead to much faster reimbursement.

By filing claims with third-party payers by computer,more than half of the medical groups surveyed areable to get paid within 30 days. Before installing thesystem, only 1% of those surveyed got paid in thattime frame. In fact, almost half had to wait more than61 days prior to introducing the computer-basedclaims filing. After switching to electronic claims posting,only 4% of the groups must wait that long.

Given the improved cash flow that electronic filingprovides, it's not surprising that 99% of the medicalgroups surveyed have some form of computer-basedoffice management system, and 95% use it forbilling. Another 93% use the system to scheduleappointments, and 85% use it to track finances.

About 94% of the medical groups are connectedto the Internet, but 21% use it only "for fun." Sevenof 10 groups use it to check on insurance coverage.But two thirds have a Web site and 40% of those whodon't have a site yet plan to launch one within a year.

Medical groups lag in the storage of patientrecords, with only 21% of the groups having a systemthat can store and transfer records electronically, anecessity to comply with the Health Insurance Portabilityand Accounting Ability Act. Although 78% ofthe medical groups plan to comply with the new law,only 14% are actually ready to do so.

The systems aren't cheap, with 69% of the medicalgroups reporting that their systems cost more than$100,000. However, 80% say the benefits are worth it.