While companies in the healthcare sector focus on HITECH act compliance and meaningful use and healthcare reform dominates the headlines, it is worthwhile to consider some of the business reasons for investing in a strong information security program. Modernization of the healthcare payments system is one big area where the potential for cost savings are dramatic. Both providers and healthcare plans stand to benefit.
For healthcare plans the benefits include easier reconciliation of payments and remittances as well as better control over cash flows. For healthcare providers the benefits include reduced billing and insurance related processing costs as well as improved cash flows. Another significant area is the potential for increased focus on patient care. On average, physicians currently spend three hours per week interacting with health plans, at a cost estimated from $23 billion to $31 billion each year according to the Health Affairs Journal. Electronically automating and properly securing the payments and remittance processes will decrease the time physicians have to spend with insurers, giving doctors more time to focus on patient care.
For both providers and plans now is the time to streamline administrative processes and benefit from cost savings initiatives. Of course with automation comes exposure to risks of fraud and information theft. To take full advantage of the potential cost savings associated with electronically automated processes, both healthcare providers and plans must invest in an information security risk management program. We have developed information security best practices in this area over the course of several years, primarily with leading companies in the financial sector.