Opinion: Using Barcodes to Process Medical Insurance in Healthcare

It’s still common for front office staff of medical facilities to manually enter data of new patients or to update a patient’s records. The use of barcodes can help improve workflow and productivity. It can also help insurance companies save on costs and streamline their own workflow.

By eliminating insurance cards and instead using a web application with a barcode, insurance providers can remove their reliance on printed cards. Almost everyone carries their smartphones everywhere, including to see the doctor. For those patients that don’t, insurance providers can still print the barcode on their ID card anyway. But this still dramatically reduces the reliance on physical patient ID cards.

Benefits of Web Application ID Cards

Reducing the use of patient ID cards can save significant amounts on annual printing and mailing costs while adding to user convenience and improving caregiver office workflows. An insurance provider will need to provide their partner healthcare providers with a convenient portal to use the barcode IDs.

Depending on the extent of your barcode ID application goals, such an extension might even include patients. They can easily update their personal information as things change, such as a new address. With this information tied to a database, a quick barcode scan by a healthcare provider can automatically populate updated information.

barcode pic 1

Barcodes Are Routinely Used to Process Medical Insurance Paperwork More Efficiently

Implementing Barcodes at a Healthcare Facility

For insurance companies looking to implement barcode technology to replace ID cards, the first step is deciphering which departments, staff and external partners and users will be impacted. Their collaboration might be essential to the success of implementing a barcode as a replacement.

It will be important to involve key stakeholders such as internal and external claims representatives. Technical teams will want to engage them early by gaining insight into what data captures in the barcode are essential.

By involving stakeholders before even building the application, they gain a sense of ownership and this can lead to better user adoption and championing the use of the application. Be sure they are involved at all application milestones, from concept to planning and implementing, to testing and deployment. Circling back with them quarterly after deployment is a good idea, to get a sense of what can be improved.

Your Chosen Barcode Symbol

You might find that a QR code is your optimal choice for a barcode to use. They are also commonly used for mobile strategies and printed on media. So, they are suited to fit an ID card for patients not using a mobile app.

The QR Code is Popular Barcode for Mobile Strategies

qr code use for insurers

The QR code has a high data density. It can encode 7,089 numbers or 4,296 English letters. This makes it ideal to capture essential patient information. It can also make it future proof – in a year or more when an insurance department might want more information captured, there’s likely to be density to add more data.

You’ll need to link a patient’s QR code to the patient database. To do this, each person will need their own unique identifier to match their QR code. And each person would have their own table of information in the database. So, when someone scans their QR code to get to required insurance information, they are essentially calling up that patient’s unique table.

The Mobile Platform

Next you may need to decide the platforms your applications will support. This often means a mix of mobile and desktop application support. Patients will mostly use their smartphones while the front office will tend to rely on a desktop. You might also need to factor in the browsers you’ll need to support. In this case, it’s likely ideal to support all common browsers since you don’t want to limit users to browsers they might not have access to.

For the smartphone client, using a web application instead of a mobile app can help remove a barrier to entry. Patients will not be required to install and update an app, rather they can just login to your mobile website. This will also be beneficial to the technical team of the insurance carrier as supporting apps means a lot of additional work. There are also iOS and Android versions to support.

Using a Software Development Kit

During web or desktop application development, technical teams will inevitably arrive at deciding to code a feature internally or utilizing a software development kit (SDK).

SDKs are frequently used because they save time and resources and usually offer a positive cost benefit. Coding barcode technology from scratch requires a lot of technical understanding of the chosen barcode symbol. Then there’s the actual coding to ensure the scan rates are fast, efficient, and have a high success rate. There are also long-term issues to worry about, such as supporting the barcode technology as standards evolve and that supporting applications are updated.

Coding this might take months to a year while the SDK can take days to weeks. Still, some developer teams will opt to go ahead and build their own solution. The reasons might be to fully own the code or because they can’t find an SDK they can customize to their liking or that is suited to the task they require.

SDK Evaluation

For barcode decoding, one obvious consideration when evaluating an SDK is that it supports the barcode symbol you need. But you might also want to be sure it supports several others you considered as you might change symbols in the future.

Other considerations include how fast the barcode scans happen – is it fast enough for your application? Scanning a barcode every minute or so versus needing to scan every second are two very different requirements.

Other things to consider are how the barcode technology can handle errors or obstacles. For example, how well does it perform at scanning barcodes in low light or at an angle. It’s important to understand the work environment where barcode scanning will occur. Therefore, it’s helpful to ensure part of your collaborative team includes frontline users.

After It’s Implemented

As any developer knows, implementing the technology hardly means the work is done. It’s important to stay in touch with those frontline users to evaluate how the technology is performing and adapt it as needed.

Early in the new use, is likely the time when new feature ideas will pop up. It can be difficult to imagine features before you’re up and running. However, once you start using a technology and you want to do something you can’t, a missing capability becomes glaringly obvious.

Barcodes are imperative across a myriad of industries in providing reliable methods to boost productivity. But proper implementation is vital. Getting key team members involved early will help ensure success and foster a positive attitude for adopting the technology. And this is important to maximizing overall results.

Author Bio:

Chloe Hahn is the director of marketing and sales at Dynamsoft, a software company focusing on image processing solutions. She leads all digital initiatives, including market positioning, pricing strategy and more. Chloe also develops the company’s strategic sales plans.

About alastair walker (3426 Articles)
20 years experience as a journalist and magazine editor. I'm your contact for press releases, events, news and commercial opportunities at Insurance-Edge.Net

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