Time to move past playing telephone with providers. Here’s a better communication strategy for health plans.
By relying on fax machines and snail mail to communicate overpayments, underpayments, denials, and just about everything else, the payer-provider relationship sometimes looks like very dysfunctional pen pals. The cost of managing this unwieldy process is too high for both parties, but new options for electronically communicating are emerging. Here’s a candid look at how your health plan can modernize its approach to provider communication.
What solutions have been proposed to improve payer-provider communication?
Remember the grade-school game of telephone? You sit in a circle and pass a message around by whispering it into the ear of the person next to you. Then the last person has to say to the group what they heard and often, the message varies hilariously from the original. What’s been happening between payers and providers isn’t all that different, only it’s not very funny.
There are real costs and consequences associated with poor communication. And besides, moving away from telephone conversations is considered a first-step solution to improve provider communication. So what’s replacing phones and fax machines?
Two solutions have emerged as leaders in the effort to improve traditional communication problems: the Blue Button initiative and electronic payer-provider portals. Each is complex in its own right but are summarized below:
- The Blue Button initiative was introduced last year and aims to provide greater access to claims data. Several ONC/CMS proposals have been issued to promote health data sharing, more broadly, across healthcare organizations. These initiatives tend to be more focused on healthcare point-of-care decisions, though, rather than getting paid. Recently, CMS announced the Medicare Blue Button, a pilot program planned for launch next month. Other data sharing initiatives involving APIs have also been recently announced.
- Electronic payer-provider portals are solutions more focused on communicating about claims: overpayments, underpayments, denials, prior authorizations, medical records documentation. Last year, CMS administrator Seema Verma stated she wants physician fax machines gone by 2020, replaced by digital health information exchange. But to be effective, digital health information available via portals should be all-electronic, real-time communication in order to truly drive engagement and efficiencies.
What’s clear is that outdated methods of communicating between payers and providers will no longer suffice, either due to regulation or market demand. Furthermore, in order to meet consumer demand, payers and providers have to find a better way to share data.
“People die because we don’t provide access to data in a real-time basis. The most important thing we can do is figure out how to coordinate that care in real-time so we can directly impact and save lives,” says a leading Blues plan president and CEO.
Where does Pareo® fit in?
Pareo is a technology solution for health plans that fosters improved communication with providers through native, built-in tools. By automating some communication needs, streamlining others, and eliminating errant messages entirely (such as duplicate medical requests), Pareo allows health plans to make strides in digitizing health communications with providers. Importantly, a communication and engagement module like ours can serve to bridge the gap between data sharing and actually getting paid (something payers and providers alike appreciate).
Pareo enhances Provider Communication efforts through:
- Faster payments with less manual intervention
- Improving trust/NPS with providers
- Facilitating alternative payment models
- Growing recoveries
Payers need a way to see the bigger picture — a way to aggregate data and make informed decisions quickly. With an electronic provider communication mechanism in place (like Pareo), data sharing initiatives like Blue Button and APIs become actionable ways to move the needle and, even more importantly, save lives.