Medicare Web apps in development

Medicare officials are hoping to have a Web-based system in place by year’s end for physicians and other practitioners to check on a patient’s eligibility for benefits in real time. Web applications for beneficiaries are also in development.

Karen Trudel, deputy director of the Office of E-Health Standards and Services at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), said her agency is testing real-time automated transactions.

That capability should be ready for use by hospital employees and others by September, she told a Department of Health and Human Services advisory committee this week. “Shortly thereafter, we will have a Web-based process,” Trudel said.

Most doctors must wait through delays when using a phone or computer to determine if a patient is eligible for Medicare services.

Tests are also under way for a Web system that lets people check the status of their Medicare claims and tells them when a claim payment has been deposited in their bank accounts, Trudel told the National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics.

CMS will soon have “a much larger Web presence than we’ve had in the past,” she said.

As for when CMS will allow Web-based claims submission, Trudel said, “that’s a really very big question.” She said it would require substantial expansion of the CMS information technology infrastructure.

However, she added, “we’re definitely moving in that direction.”

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