Humana to switch to machine-readable patient ID cards
Health Financing/Insurance

Humana to switch to machine-readable patient ID cards

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Humana, one of America’s largest health-benefits companies, has promised to adopt machine-readable patient ID cards and, in the process, won the acclaim of the Medical Group Management Association, which estimates the cards could save physician offices and hospitals as much as USD 1 billion a year. Less than three weeks ago, MGMA launched ProjectSwipeIT, an industry-wide effort calling on health insurers, vendors and health care providers to initiate processes to support standardised cards by January 1, 2010. Louisville, Kentucky-based Humana is the first insurer to publicly pledge its support. “We’d like to see the whole payer community emulate Humana,” said William F. Jessee, MD, president and CEO of MGMA. “In putting a priority on issuing standardised cards, they’ve shown that it’s possible to take a step toward eliminating the USD 1 billion a year we waste on this outdated system. Humana’s hospital and physician partners should follow its lead and adopt the technology necessary to machine-read Humana patients’ cards.” MGMA estimates that machine-readable patient ID cards could save physician offices and hospitals money by reducing unnecessary administrative efforts and many denied claims. Most patient ID cards currently in use have no machine-readable elements. Healthcare providers typically photocopy the cards for their records, wasting money on data entry that invites human error and leads to denied claims, Jessee said, Many cards are inconsistently designed and feature photos, illustrations and dark backgrounds that make legible photocopying difficult. Machine-readable cards like Humana’s could be linked to providers’ computer systems via a card reader allowing for the automatic population of patient information correctly and cost-effectively with a simple swipe. “It is exciting to see this initiative come to fruition,” said Bruce Perkins, senior vice president, Humana Healthcare Delivery Systems and Clinical Processes. “We are proud to be a part of such a significant movement,” “In addition to the cost savings, Project SwipeIT also proves that the industry is ready to continue collaborative opportunities. Our goal is to continue working with MGMA and the industry to eliminate waste, create efficiencies and reduce the hassle-factor for providers.”

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