Electronic billing in the private healthcare sector is on course for another record year because of demand from non-hospital providers revealed Healthcode, the official clearing organisation for private medical bills.
The volume of PMI bills submitted through its online billing service has been higher than average in the first Quarter 2019 and Healthcode currently expects to process 6.9million electronic bills over the whole year, compared with 6.3million in 2018.
Since Healthcode launched its e-billing service in 2002, volumes have grown year-on-year and in 2018, the company processed bills worth more than £3billion on behalf of private providers an increase of 15% on 2015 (£2.67bn). These transactions have enabled it to collect a wealth of valuable anonymised data about market activity within the sector.
Over the last five years, Healthcode has experienced a surge in electronic billing by non-hospital providers, including 22,000 independent practitioners who are registered to use the billing service. The non-hospital segment submitted 3.4 million bills in 2018, overtaking hospital providers (2.9 million) for the first time and this rate of increase shows little sign of slowing. Electronic billing has long been standard practice within hospitals but it is now clear that it has now been adopted across the whole private sector for insured patients.
There has been a slight rise in electronic billing volumes within the hospital sector after a relatively flat period. Healthcode expects to process more than 2.87million PMI invoices from the hospital sector in 2019 worth approximately £2.3bn. At the same time, there has been a notable shift towards outpatient care in the last ten years. In 2010, this setting represented 77% of billing volumes and 30% of invoice value but today it accounts for around 80% of hospital invoice volumes and 39% of invoice value. By contrast, in-patient care represented 8% of invoice volumes and 44% of the value in 2010 but this proportion has shrunk to 5% and 32% respectively in 2019.
Healthcode’s Managing Director, Peter Connor, said: “I’m delighted that private practices are making the transition from paper billing in ever greater numbers because everyone benefits. When a bill is submitted through our online system, it is automatically validated according to the PMI’s own rules and ready to be processed which saves time and is better for providers’ cash flow. And being encrypted to internet banking standards, this method is more secure than post or email which helps provider meet their data protection obligations.
“The adoption of e-billing across the private healthcare sector shows how technology can help us accomplish administrative tasks more efficiently and generate valuable data about trends in the sector. I believe we should take this further in other areas, such as payment transactions, appointment booking and secure information sharing. However, this will only be possible if different private healthcare stakeholders are prepared to collaborate and adopt common standards. Healthcode already has the interoperable technology to connect different private healthcare stakeholders on a single platform and if everyone in the sector commits to a common approach, there is no limit to what we can achieve together.”