AMA Wire

Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2012

This Week's News

New standard aims to cut expense, time spent on claims payments

New standard aims to cut expense, time spent on claims payments

Physicians are in a position to benefit from a new standard for the electronic payment of health care claims that is estimated to save as much as $9 billion over the next decade.

The standard, announced recently by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), adopts a set of operating rules for electronic funds transfers and electronic remittance advice and should save physicians considerable time and money while increasing patient satisfaction. Rather than waiting for days or weeks to learn a patient's financial responsibility for medical services, physicians will be able to determine the amount at the moment care is provided and settle payment before the patient leaves the office.

"These new rules will cut red tape, save money and ensure doctors spend more time seeing patients and less time filling out forms," HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a news release.

The operating rules for this new standard were created by the Council for Affordable Quality Healthcare's Committee on Operating Rules for Information Exchange, which adopted a number of AMA recommendations.

While health insurers will bear the bulk of the expense to implement the new standard, physician practices will see the most benefits. The date to comply with the new standard is Jan. 1, 2014.

Physicians can access resources from the AMA Practice Management Center to help them make accommodations to collect patient payment at the time of service. By doing so, physicians can improve cash flow, reduce costs associated with the claims revenue cycle and eliminate patients' frustration with the uncertainty of health care costs.

Additional resources on this topic will be available in the fall.