2 Insurers to Provide Paperless Records; Humana and Blue Cross Say the Electronic Info Will Cut Costs and Errors

By Karkaria, Urvaksh | The Florida Times Union, May 8, 2007 | Go to article overview

2 Insurers to Provide Paperless Records; Humana and Blue Cross Say the Electronic Info Will Cut Costs and Errors


Karkaria, Urvaksh, The Florida Times Union


Byline: URVAKSH KARKARIA

Two area health insurers have teamed up to provide electronic records of their members' health information in an effort to trim costs and medical errors.

Humana and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida hope the records - which offer doctors an overview of the health-care services the member has received based on claims information -will result in improved patient safety, reduced fraud and less duplication of medical procedures. Patients, meanwhile, are spared the hassle of managing paper records, especially useful in a hurricane-prone state like Florida.

"The purpose [of the electronic records] is to enhance the dialogue between the patient and the physician," said Catherine Peper, vice president of health information technology at Blue Cross.

Few participating insurers and limitations on how much information is available in these records, however, could hamstring their effectiveness. The records do not include critical information like the doctors' notes or test results.

While a step forward in getting patient health information to doctors, claims-related records are limited in scope, said Dennis Saver, a past president of the Florida Academy of Family Physicians.

"This is not an electronic medical record; this is not a patient's complete medical history," Saver said. "This is a very limited view ... because it ... lists what tests and procedures have been paid for by the insurer."

The Blue Cross-Humana program, launched in the Tampa Bay area, is billed as the nation's first payer-based electronic claims record that involves multiple insurers. The program is being expanded into the Jacksonville, Gainesville, Miami and Tallahassee markets this quarter, with statewide deployment expected by year-end.

More than 156,000 Blue Cross members will have electronic claims records available in the Jacksonville market in Florida, while Humana will make such records available for 50,000 area members.

Humana offers electronic claims records going back 18 months, while Blue Cross offers records dating back two years. Members must opt out if they don't want to have their record available electronically. The Web-based service is free to medical providers, who log into a password-protected site to access the patient's record.

"The most important thing that our physicians tell us is valuable to them is the medication history," Peper said. "Very often, members don't remember the medications that they are on, or their names, or . …

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