One of the more fascinating things about working here at ColumbiaSoft is getting to speak with a lot of different kinds of people across a lot of different industries. Paperwork is universal… No one is immune.
But there are plenty of times where I’m talking to someone about their paperwork problems, and I’ve practically rubbed elbows with their problems, and it’s never crossed my mind at all to think about that until I’m on the phone with them, hearing about their paperwork-related woes. In this case, I’m thinking about Explanation of Benefits (EOB’s). I get several a year just from my kindergartner’s ear infections, and have never given them a thought, until a couple of weeks ago.
I recently finished writing a case study for one of our clients, Dr. Marlan (which we have up and published on the website, right here: Marlan ENT PLLC. Huzzah!), and it was the first time I’d really heard of EOB’s, and what a hassle they can be. And why they make Document Locator (DL) look like Superman, which totally makes me the sidekick, in this metaphor… or maybe Girl Friday.
I’ve received EOB’s in the mail before—scanned through them, started shouting spontaneously at the paper based on what my insurance was (not) covering—and then I’d toss them in a binder full of other random financial-ish documents, and forget about them, for the most part.
It turns out, the insurance company sends a copy of that EOB to the doctor’s office as well, and they have to keep it filed away with other patient billing documents—and they have to keep it for a few months short of forever. Here’s why:
Whenever someone has a question about billing, they call in to the doctor’s office, and the staff there have to get up and find the file, answer the question, and the re-file the paper—which gets beyond tedious after the tenth question in two hours. (Apparently there’s a lot of unexpressed hostility towards EOB’s—the things you learn when you talk to your doctor’s office staff for a few minutes…) So, Document Locator as Superman, right? When all of the EOB’s are in DL, tagged with patient names and birthdates and number of freckles, then the staff can generally have an EOB pulled up inside of fifteen or thirty seconds, answer a question, and then just close the window.
I know—I teared up, too.
When I was speaking with Dr. Marlan, he added up how many EOB inquiries his office receives every day, and multiplied them by how long each one takes; the math added up to his office saving between 200-300 hours a month in EOB retrieval.
So yeah—in terms of electronic healthcare records? Document Locator, definitely Superman. I’m not sure that I qualify as Lois Lane, but I’m definitely a colleague. Sidekick. Girl Friday. Something awesome.