It was a system developer’s worst nightmare. Picture an over-capacity crowd lining up to be the first to take a cruise on a highly hyped passenger liner. They are given the green light to board, then the liner casts off. Miles out, passengers notice a whale off the stern and gather en masse to view it until their combined weight lowers the railing to below water level, causing the liner to take on water. To compensate, they hurry to the front of the boat and make the bow dip, at which point the boat rams a sandbar. That about sums up the HCAI 1 experience for the system’s sponsors, managers and users. For readers who are not familiar with the Ontario auto insurance personal injury claims regime, HCAI stands for Health Claims for Auto Insurance. Its creation by the Insurance Bureau of Canada is mandated by statute to process certain Ontario Claim Forms or OCFs.
Fast forward to February 2010. HCAI 2 is well on its way to a successful rollout, the goal of 90+% of OCF 18s, 21s, 22s and 23s being handled on-line by the end of 2010 well within reach. The IBC and FSCO (Financial Services Commission of Ontario) are no doubt relieved. In late winter or early spring, HCAI will be announcing the date by which all 5,000 facilities and 25,000 providers must sign on to HCAI.
Make no mistake, HCAI will force changes to your treatment planning, application, document management, invoicing and management reporting routines. The absolute worst time to be figuring out the impact is after you have signed on. Be prepared, and follow the HCAI team’s well thought out and communicated instructions. To borrow a phrase, an ounce of planning before your activation may prevent a ton of remorse after it and actually improve some aspects of your practice.
HCAI submission has its benefits for providers and facilities that have fully integrated practice management systems. Unfortunately, they are a small minority. PMS developers and vendors appear to be stepping up to the plate with their claims of HCAI integration. Buyers beware, as integration is a relative term. Be sure of your requirements before you leap. The hard and soft dollar costs of a poorly handled system implementation or conversion are far higher than the costs associated with HCAI adoption alone.