Patient eligibility online: It's free!

Monday, April 30, 2007

DULUTH, Ga. - Brightree's free online Medicare eligibility program looks to be catching on, and doing, in part, what company officials hoped it would: generate paying customers for its Web-based business management solution.
"We felt it was important to give something back to the community that would be of value and also help us," said Brightree CEO Dave Cormack.
The company debuted the eligibility program,, in January, and as of mid-March it had 1,700 registered users, he said. (By Medtrade Spring in late April, the company expected to have 2,100 registered users.)
Noble House and Diabco also offer programs that check a patient's Medicare eligibility (See HME News May 2006), but they don't provide it for free.
(While the Brightree system is free, caution industry watchers, providers should explore all offers to see what best fits their needs.)
Even with multiple options for checking patient eligibility quickly, many providers still use Medicare's dial-up 800-number, a slow, labor-intensive procedure, say industry watchers.
"Users are doubtful about it in the beginning, but once they see the benefits of our system, they are thrilled," said Diabco President Edward Kutt. "For the time and money it saves them, they really get a good return on their investment."
When it comes to eligibility, providers can't afford not to check a patient's status, said Noble House President Richard Mehan.
"The information they are getting is too valuable," he said. "If you are about to ship a three-month supply of product, are you willing to risk a $300 loss if you find out the patient isn't covered?"
With, a provider logs on to the Web site, enters some basic patient information--name and date of birth, for example--hits a button and receives the eligibility information back in six or seven seconds, Cormack said.
He estimated that two to three providers a month who use like it so much they decide--"more quickly than they would have before"--to switch their existing business management software to Brightree's online product.
"All they need is Internet access," he said. "They don't have to worry about backup, recovery, any of that stuff. Let's say it this way: They own the data, we own the IT headaches."