The Medical Group Management Association is starting to push for health insurers, vendors and health care providers to adopt standardized, machines-readable patient ID cards. The standard calls for use of magnetic stripe or two-dimensional bar code technology with the IDs.
Most patient ID cards in use have no machine-readable elements. Health care providers typically photocopy the cards for their records. This process is prone to human error, since employees in a doctor’s office or hospital must re-enter demographic and insurance information into their computer systems.
Many cards are inconsistently designed and feature photos, illustrations and dark backgrounds that make legible photocopying difficult. Machine-readable cards, linked to providers’ computer systems via a card reader, would automatically enter patient information correctly and cost-effectively.
MGMA estimates that machine-readable patient ID cards could save physician offices and hospitals as much as $1 billion a year by eliminating unnecessary administrative efforts and denied claims. A machine-readable card compliant with the mandates of the Workgroup for Electronic Data Interchange costs about 50 cents — just a fraction more than the non-standardized, plastic or paper cards that most insurers now use. The savings that insurers will see from reduced provider inquiries, claims reprocessing and labor will far exceed this expense.
The Workgroup for Electronic Data Interchange developed an implementation guide to enable automated and interoperable identification using standardized health-insurance ID cards. The guide standardizes present practice and brings uniformity of information, appearance and technology to the more than 100 million cards now issued by health care providers, health plans, government programs and others.
More information available here.