Magazine Article | September 1, 1998

Healthcare Giant Saves Time And Money By Switching From Microfilm To OCR

Source: Field Technologies Magazine

United Healthcare processes 10,000 claim forms daily,
and saves over $.16 on each form by
adopting optical character recognition software.

Integrated Solutions, September-October 1998
Would you buy software if it could save you $1,600 a day in forms processing? That's what happened to United Healthcare when they installed OCR for Forms, from Microsystems Technology Inc.

With 30,000 employees nationwide, and projected revenues of $18 billion this year, United Healthcare Corp. is among the national leaders in healthcare management. The corporation has served consumers, managers and providers of healthcare since 1974. In order to reduce processing costs for the 10,000 Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA) claim forms they receive every day, United Healthcare uses OCR for Forms™ from Microsystems Technology, Inc. (MTi).

OCR for Forms is a Windows-based forms-processing software solution. The software uses optical character recognition (OCR) to electronically process standard business forms. In the increasingly competitive healthcare industry, an OCR system reduces a form's turnaround time, ultimately improving customer service while lowering labor costs.

Microfilming Took Too Much Time
Prior to implementing OCR for Forms, HCFA forms were received, sorted and microfilmed at a central inventory control location. Then the forms were shipped to the appropriate processing department, where claims processors manually entered the HCFA forms into the claims system. After entry and review, the forms were stored until they could be destroyed. If a paper copy was required later, inventory control would retrieve and print the document from the microfilm. With this system, United Healthcare processed an average of 55 forms per person per hour.

"We had previous experience with OCR for Forms and knew it was a robust product with the ability to handle even the hard-to-read forms," comments Kathy Wright, United Healthcare software engineer. "We knew the power of the software-based OCR engine, and liked the software's Windows interface. OCR for Forms is also attractively priced." United Healthcare purchased the software in January 1996 and installed it a month later in a pilot program. They also use Kodak scanners, Seaport scanner interface, Novell 3.12 network server and Windows 95, Windows NT and Windows 3.11 client operating systems.

Each Claim Processed With OCR Saves $0.16
United Healthcare has calculated cost reductions of $0.163 per claim with the software. "There are two major reasons for the savings," says Wright. "First, we need less time to scan a document than to microfilm it. Secondly, there's a significant reduction in the time and resources needed to retrieve and print claim copies from microfilm. Approximately 50% to 60% of claims from the limited pilot program are automatically entered into the claims system. Consequently, staffing levels at United Healthcare's inventory control center have been reduced.

Manual Intervention Is Kept To A Minimum
"Using OCR for Forms, we can scan forms and automatically enter them into the claims system without manual intervention other than data verification," adds Wright. "We are saving time (in the pilot program) with no reduction in our accuracy standards and results." Turnaround time is one to two days faster than before the software was installed.

The program has been so successful that United Healthcare plans to expand the program to include new claim types and other health plans.