Community Health Plan of Washington struggled to make accurate, timely provider payments, causing serious dissatisfaction among providers and members.
Community Health Plan of Washington partnered with NTT DATA to make big process changes in the payment process, enabling claims to be paid much faster and more accurately.
“Aside from improving our business operations, we're improving the health of our members with NTT DATA as our strategic partner.”
For health plans serving Medicaid patients, enlisting high-quality providers can be a challenge due to lower reimbursement rates compared to commercial insurers. And late, inaccurate payments can compound that challenge. Years ago, the Community Health Plan of Washington (CHPW) faced both those problems. Yet today it has a solid reputation for being one of the best Medicaid payers in the state of Washington — so much so that state regulators often go to them for advice and feedback when changes are made to regulations or when new regulations roll out.
CHPW serves close to 300,000 Medicaid members and 7,000 Medicare members with a network of nearly 600 primary care sites and more than 100 hospitals. As such, it’s one of the state’s leading Medicaid health plans, with many thousands of members joining in recent years after the introduction of the U.S. Affordable Care Act.
“CHPW is a safety net health plan for Washington state’s underserved and low-income individuals,” says Alan Lederman, CHPW’s chief administrative officer. “We need to be efficient, effective and timely in paying our providers, because we can’t pay top dollar for care and coverage. We need to be an easy health plan to work with.” For many years, CHPW relied on a sister organization for managing its claims and payments. But, as Lederman explains, “the relationship was tense. Because we didn’t have access to all our data, and maintaining the system was slow and inefficient.”
The organization decided to outsource claims and payments to a third party and engaged NTT DATA to help. NTT DATA would operate a software-as-a-service (SaaS) administrative platform for claims and billing functions, plus back ends to provider and member portals. They would also provide business process outsourcing and IT services, including data entry, mailroom services, claims processing, configuration services and premium billing.
During the transition, however, data accuracy became a problem, and a backlog of many tens of thousands of claims quickly grew. “Like all plans, CHPW was subject to regulatory requirements and guidelines as far as claims turnaround times,” says Julie Keeffe, CHPW’s director of exchange strategy and implementation. “But claims couldn’t go through, because the provider data wasn’t accurate when we did the transition.
“Although our providers were being patient, they need their funds so they can keep their doors open and care for our patients. We were concerned about attracting and keeping high-quality doctors and other service providers on our roster.”
“Providers were very frustrated,” Keeffe says. “Sometimes I’d have about 130 messages from providers, all upset, and have only promises to give them. We worried about losing them, which would have been devastating for the high quality health coverage we want to offer our members.”
NTT DATA implemented an electronic workflow management system for CHPW based on a proven best-practices platform. The system captures and processes electronic data, streamlining workflow to drive work to the exact individuals or teams completing the work. It also can track contractual details and other critical data affecting payment processing.
With the workflow system, which features automated routing, NTT DATA and CHPW cut the time needed to process claims and boosted payment turnaround speeds and accuracy. The number of claims needing processing dropped from 172,000 to under 70,000 until reaching today’s baseline payment inventory of 35,000 claims.
“Once we got our workflow system operating smoothly, we were able to clear our backlog quickly,” Keeffe says. “We soon were able to start rebuilding our provider network’s trust in CHPW by paying quickly and accurately, using the automated workflow solution from NTT DATA. And this helped the provider community be more willing to accept our health insurance plan. In turn, that willingness helps us broaden coverage for our members.”
Today, CHPW’s claims processing outcomes not only help keep providers happy, but they also are recognized by state regulators as an exemplary model for other Medicaid-focused plans. In fact, Lederman says that the state relies on CHPW to help identify potential issues and to help them solve the problems they are trying to solve. He adds, “but aside from improving our business operations, we’re improving the health of our members with NTT DATA them as our strategic partner.”
What’s more, the scalability and flexibility of the solution for claims payment have also helped CHPW become much more competitive within the state. “We’ve become more future-ready by the team sharing with us its company insights as a healthcare industry leader across a wide range of technology topics and business best practices,” Lederman says. “For example, not only do we learn about the latest thinking in claims and payment processing, but they also shares with us how technologies like social media and analytics can improve our community engagement and service delivery. Clearly, the ultimate beneficiaries of our strategic partnership with NTT DATA are our CHPW members.”*
*This case study was originally written by Dell Services, which has become NTT DATA Services as of November 2016.