Independent practitioners submitted 76% more electronic invoices in 2014 than the previous year according to Healthcode, the official clearing company for the private healthcare sector. In another sign that e-billing has become accepted practice within the industry, the overall volume of e-bills from non-hospitals and hospitals increased by nearly 20% in 2014.
Healthcode’s analysis shows that independent practices are fast catching up with hospitals who were early adopters of e-billing. The 76% growth in 2014 is nearly three times the rate in the previous 12 months (e-billing volumes grew by 27% in 2012/13) and the total number of e-bills in 2014 was 3.5 times more than the number submitted five years ago (2010). Invoices from independent practitioners now represent 32% of the total submitted, compared with 22% in 2013 and just 12% in 2010.
One factor behind the increased volumes from independent practitioners has been the growth in the number of new entrants who have embraced e-billing. In March 2014, Healthcode revealed that more than 3,700 doctors had launched a private practice in the previous three years. It is likely that this intensifying competition has driven many practices to explore more efficient ways to operate.
Healthcode Managing Director, Peter Connor said: “I’m delighted that independent practitioners are making the leap forward from paper invoices because automating this time-consuming process has significant advantages, especially for new businesses. Not only can practices reduce administrative costs but they can also improve their cashflow as electronic invoices are usually settled faster. This is because Healthcode’s system validates invoices as they are submitted to ensure they include all the information required by the PMI and are ready for payment.”
October 2014 was the most active month for independent practitioners and hospitals with more than 375,000 bills submitted, a 24% increase on the previous year. These monthly billing volumes are also being seen more frequently: the monthly total of submitted bills exceeded 300,000 on nine occasions during 2014 but this only happened once during 2013. While not as significant as the growth in non-hospital invoice volumes, e-billing from hospitals also grew by 5% in 2014 after a slight contraction the previous year. This could reflect an increase in activity levels within the hospital sector, alongside wider adoption of e-billing, and provides a reason for optimism in 2015.
Electronic billing is now preferred by the majority of PMIs. As the experts in secure online invoice submission, Healthcode has been at the forefront of efforts to make this an easier option for consultants and hospitals. Most recently, the company has developed new industry billing guidelines and templates to help providers get their invoices right first time. The free guide has been endorsed by the main Private Medical Insurers (PMIs), including Aviva, AXA PPP healthcare, Bupa, VitalityHealth and Simplyhealth. This support is available here.