Gordon Seller SystemwareClarity. That seemed to be the watchword at the panel discussion on medical banking I hosted Monday at TEXPO 2012, the annual treasury management conference hosted by the Dallas Association for Financial Professionals.

Appearing with me were my Systemware colleague Andrea Chiappe and Laurie Masscurro from Bank of Oklahoma Financial. We had a tough act to follow — luncheon speaker Boone Pickens – but we managed to attract an audience of bankers and others interested in “Lessons Learned in Remittance Processing Implementations.”

All three of us talked about clarity, beginning with a bank’s overall goal. That’s to generate a file their customer can post, even though systems vary. Obviously, the cleaner (or clearer) banks can make the end result the better. And for clear communication, we talked about the importance of investing time in learning exactly what medical people are talking about.

We reviewed the manual activities that can be automated:

  • Data entry
  • Payment reconciliation
  • Claim file matching
  • Adjudication review
  • Secondary claims submission
  • Posting patient payments.

And we reminded the group about the benefits:

  • A single remittance connection
  • Greater visibility into transactions
  • Reduced administrative costs
  • Shortened time to cash
  • Integration into bank lockbox processing.

Lori had good advice for fellow bankers on clarity when speaking with providers. Understand their client bases, she said, make sure your treasury management officers are well prepared and understand the necessary industry terminology. In addition, she said, they need to be clear on their potential client’s processes and needs.

Andrea added that when it comes to HIPPA and its requirements, it’s been made plain that everyone who handles medical records must be HIPPA compliant, though banks already meet many of the requirements.

Most everyone seems to agree this field is complex, and few doubt the severity of the medical payments problem it is trying to address. I asked both of my fellow panelists if they see the situation getting any better.

Lori said banks are more aware now of the issues faced by their clients, and more providers see that they need to reach out to their banks for help. They also see the need to get rid of paper, especially as new regulations come along and add complexity. Andrea noted that there have been small wins as the industry gets more standardized, but there is a long way to go.

I agree there is a long way to go. But there is also opportunity, and banks are in a unique position to take advantage of that opportunity.