Health industry exchange ready to go

ICSGlobal this week unveiled its online health industry exchange, Thelma, which is ready for use by hospitals and insurers to process patient information and medical claims.

The company predicts Thelma will process around 74 million hospital and medical transactions on an annualised basis or 35 per cent of the market within 18 months and a spokeswoman said deals on the drawing board will be announced later this month.

A proof of concept for Thelma went live last October and the company claims it is the only exchange in Australia designed for the entire health industry.

Phase one of Thelma offers hospitals and private health insurers the ability to check patient eligibility for private healthcare and to process hospital and inpatient medical claims in a secure, real-time environment.

Australian Private Hospitals Association executive director, Michael Roff said hospitals and insurers have been struggling with manual processes; attempts were made to build their own transaction systems.

"This has been a costly and time-consuming exercise; one electronic system took 18 months to implement between a single hospital and a single fund," he said.

"Thelma has the potential to change the way hospitals deliver patient services; for example a hospital can conduct instantaneous eligibility checks when a patient enters a hospital. Currently this process takes several days to complete."

ICSGlobal healthcare business director, Greg King said hospital administrative costs are around eight to 12 per cent of revenues and the average cost to process a hospital claim for an insurer is between $4 and $18.

"Clearly, making smart use of the Internet through Thelma provides the potential for radical process improvement," he said.

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