Survey: Industry supports federal health IT initiatives

Two new surveys of health care executives and opinion leaders show there is support for federal initiatives to promote health information technology and standardize exchanges of payment data.

In one survey, the Commonwealth Fund polled 251 leaders from health care policy and finance, and health care providers to ascertain their priorities for congressional action on health care. Health IT was the number two priority, after expanding coverage for the uninsured.

In the other survey, by PNC Financial Services Group, 60 percent of the insurance executives surveyed said the government should require the use of electronic data transfer and electronic data interchange in submitting, processing and paying insurance claims.

The insurance and hospital executives in the PNC study also said federal standards for payments and claim information could help hold down health care costs.

The Commonwealth Fund survey found that business leaders from the health care sector put health IT at the top of their congressional wish lists, while it came in second among government, academic, medical and other respondents.

Respondents said health IT could help control costs while improving the quality of health care. The poll results were similar to those sponsored by the Commonwealth Fund in previous years.

According to a report on the PNC survey, there are more than 400 electronic formats for health care claims used in the United States. Standard formats would encourage more providers and insurers to abandon paper claims forms and payments, the report states.

Ninety percent of the hospital and insurance executives polled said their organizations still use a postal mail service to submit or receive health claim forms and to send or receive remittance payments, the survey found.

It takes an average of 52 days for a hospital to receive payment for an insurance claim, and many claims must be resubmitted because of errors or questions that lead to claim rejections on the first try, PNC reported.

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