The Digital Convergence Transformation and Analog Hanging in There

by Tom Adelstein

Have you ever seen a $25,000 PC Card that hooks to a scanner to produce clean content used for forms? Some professional groups pay those kind of dollars so they can use EDI to speed up their collections. Call the filer a service provider and call the paper billing company a payer. So why does the payer make a provider kill trees to get paid?

We should know the answer to this question. The provider spends a significant amount of money to have a few people fill out forms and submit them for payment. Six months later the form is kicked back with a note saying it's incomplete. So, the provider's office submits it again. Meanwhile, the provider gets calls and letters from collection agencies with a sales pitch: We can get you paid. We charge a 50% and buy the paper now.

If the provider doesn't sell his or her paper, they usually receive payment up to a year after the first filing for say 70% of the original submission. The provider submits again and gets into an argument with the payer.

Let's say you're a dentist. Do you have time to fool with this nonsense? How can the provider speed up the process? File digitally?

Is it that simple? Yes it is that simple.

This is a lucrative market. It's also an example of how analog technology can slow payment to a provider and earn money on float, stay afloat and give people aggravation. And if you're a dentist, your patient has already paid for the service to the payer.

So, does Linux play in the market for digital processing of receivables? What do we need? An embedded card for scanning at a pittance of the cost of expensive EDI cards. The embedded card should work with a variety of scanners.

Does such an embedded product exist? If so, let's spread the word. If not this might just represent an opportunity. Sell them cards, cut the cost to the dentist or whomever and help move this process across the digital divide. At the least, we might save some trees.