Electronic Document Submission: If Not Now, When?
In what might just be the last bastion of manual paper processing in the United States today, did you know that there are still offices that process their medical claims manually instead of electronically? Somewhere, medical claims are actually still written down by hand on paper forms, then either mailed or shipped to insurance companies, and what is even more surprising, are accepted by insurers!
If this comes as news to you, you may be surprised as to how it can still be occurring. But take heart! As most in the medical community already know, there is going to be a time – sooner rather than later – that manually produced claims will be no more, and will have to be created electronically. At some point, nothing else will be acceptable. Currently, most if not all medical billing companies are processing claims electronically to the exclusion of all other methods.
Reduced error rates, costs and transmission speeds are the primary benefits of electronic document submission. These days it should take seconds, not days, to send a claim in to insurance. Can’t you already picture shorter revenue cycles, increases in the number of claims sent, faster payments, and happier clients? And you won’t even have to hire more staff to get it done. This is a prime example of today’s business adage, “Work smarter, not harder.”
In a triumph for technology, some software for electronic document transmission can locate errors that might be missed in a manual document submission. Reduced errors naturally lead to reduced revenue cycle times, another plus. Fixing these kinds of errors would take far much more time if they had to be done manually and using the telephone.
At this time, however, electronic document submission is not considered completely accurate, so electronic claims must still be carefully examined for errors. Another electronic option currently in use is optical character recognition (OCR) software, which scans documents and populates other documents with the information it collects. Unfortunately, at this time it also is not 100 percent accurate and must still be checked manually for errors.
Electronic billing, once the kinks are worked out, will be a great leap forward in reducing the submission costs for a claim. With more claims being sent out as a result, the cost per claim will go down. No more shipping costs or postage costs drive the cost per claim down further. Lastly, there will no longer be a need to print and mail paper checks, once electronic funds transfer becomes universal in the medical field.
Medical Electronic Attachment of Norcross, Georgia, notes that doctors’ offices and medical billing companies can look forward to a 10-14 day reduction in unpaid receivables once documents are submitted electronically. Electronic claims submission will eventually be required at some future time, and the manual submission of claims will be no more. Medical billing services everywhere are getting ready for this change and look forward to that day coming very soon.