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Smart Cards: An Intelligent Idea for Healthcare


Imagine a way to reduce denied claims, have accurate patient information, and speed up the paperwork process. It exists, so why isn't it in your medical practice?

A few days ago, I was working on a recurring task, and thought that there could be a more productive way to perform it. The same problems occur, and without constant monitoring, will continue to happen. Then, Einstein's quote about the definition of insanity popped into my head: “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.”

My first suggestion would be smart-cards for patients. I used Google to see if there were any insurance companies stepping up and providing this. What I found was a handful of articles written over the past several years suggesting this very thing! But, no one is doing this yet. Why? Can you imagine how nice it would be if Mrs. Smith came in for an appointment, hands you her smart insurance card, your staff swipes it and all of her information populated your software fields including deductible and copayment information? This would eliminate so many tasks your front and back office have to perform on a daily basis! Think about the patient, too. They would be ecstatic to only have to sign a few forms and not fill out all of that demographic information or health history.

Most insurance companies have a patient portal that they can log in to and see everything about their healthcare dating back several years. I know that when I log into my personal insurance website that I can review past appointments, any medications that I was prescribed, my deductible information including how much I have yet to meet, or when it was met, other plan limits like physical therapy, speech or occupational therapy visit limits, etc. So then why can't a smart card sync with this information prior to heading out for that appointment? Not secure enough you say? The data can easily be encrypted or password protected like a PIN number on your debit card.

If the insurance companies are afraid that it would cost them too much, how about they come up with a software program for the physicians to buy or lease? Perhaps an add-on feature that can be sold to those physicians who do not want to buy another whole software package? That would most certainly offset the cost to develop, create, and provide this type of innovation to their customers who they claim to care about.

Imagine how few claims would be denied due to poor data entry, or one of my favorite excuses from the insurance company, “Claim denied, patient not found.” You would never see that again if they were supplying the information!

There is always going to be someone who will say, “It would never work,” or “That would go against HIPAA privacy laws.” It's the same thing as online medical records, only portable. It could work with some innovation and thought. At the very least they should get started on it and perhaps in a few years, we might be closer to being denial free. My iPhone, and iPad synch with my iMac, so if Apple figured out a way to do it, perhaps the insurance companies can give it a try!

Find out more about P.J. Cloud-Moulds and our other Practice Notes bloggers.

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