Health Plan Providers Have Good IT; Execs Want More

Of all the health care stakeholders, insurers have been the most savvy and consistent about implementing IT. But a new survey suggests that health plan executives aren't done yet. (

Health insurers have driven much of the automation currently existing in the health care system, motivated by the need to ensure profitability and to be in compliance with HIPAA, or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

For most insurers, claims, customer service and enrollment information are already largely automated. Still, many of these executives are seeking to integrate business enterprise applications even more fully into their businesses.

A recent survey by industry consultancy First Consulting Group of 65 executives at U.S. health plan providers found that 98 percent intend to increase automation within their organizations in the next one to two years.

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Four out of five executives surveyed had found that these business process management tools could be used to increase productivity, reduce error rates, improve quality and reduce operating costs.

Despite that optimism about automation, only one-third already have initiatives underway.

Most health plan providers, six out of ten, reported being able to measure error rates associated with manual processes, but only a little more than one-third could actually track the cost of the errors.

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