BankAmerica Forms Health Information Services Unit

Article excerpt

BankAmerica, fresh from its merger with Security Pacific Corp., is putting its daunting West Coast presence to good use in the corporate electronic banking market. The fact that the San Francisco-based bank holding company is the dominant consumer banking force in the western U.S. creates opportunities on the corporate banking side for business customers that deal with consumer payments, says Bob Winn, vice-president and director of strategic planning and business development for the corporate banking operations group.

Foray into health services

One opportunity is in health care, where corporate customers are seeking ways to gain efficiencies in handling complex transactions. BankAmerica sees a role for itself there, and in other areas as well.

In August, BankAmerica announced the formation of its Health Information Services group.

The unit's mandate is to provide efficient and secure transaction processing, information management, and financial services to health-care providers and payees.

"To the extent that the health-care industry automates--either naturally or as a result of regulation--we will be positioning our electronic banking services to facilitate that automation," says Winn. This will apply particularly to funding and claims-settlement transactions.

The health-care field is one in which the consumer and corporate banking businesses overlap, particularly in BankAmerica's case, points out Winn.

Close to half the households in the western U.S. have a relationship with BankAmerica. And the bank has significant relationships with the hospitals, physicians' offices, insurance companies, government entities, and employers.

"We're not talking about being a clearing house or a payment-settlement bank," says Winn. "But we're looking at providing a solution to the [health care] industry where the consumer, or patient, is involved, the provider is involved, and the insurance company and/or employer is involved.

We're studying the implications of that right now."

What role for EDI?

Specific offerings to the health-care industry or components of it were not defined in the late summer, but Winn and the Health Information Services group were analyzing uses of electronic data interchange (EDI) and other ways to reduce the administrative burden associated with health care. …