Doc offices: Get ready for digital insurance ID cards

By Matt Kuhrt

Cell phone apps have begun to replace the stack of identification and affiliation cards patients used to keep on keychains and in wallets. Now health insurance companies have joined the fray by providing their customers with digital identification cards, sometimes to the dismay of doctor's offices set up to deal with paper or plastic cards, according to an article from AAFP News.

When it comes to technology, physicians can be both legitimately wary and slow to move with the times--just consider how many continue to use pagers. Even for technologically advanced practices, digital ID cards can be an administrative headache when an office lacks the technology needed to get the information from the phone into its billing system, according to the article.

Insurers such as Aetna are expanding their digital ID programs, according to AAFP News, as well as actively educating both doctors and patients on their benefits and use. Practices need only a patient's name and date of birth to run eligibility and benefits inquiries, which should be completed for every patient visit, according to Glenn Bair, Aetna's senior project manager for provider e-solutions.

Consumer demand appears to flow in part from the increased efficiency of services such as web portals, which allow patients easy access to their healthcare information, the use of which has been shown to help encourage preventive care and close care gaps, according to previous reports by FierceHealthPayer.

Aetna reports that physician response to the use of the technology has been mixed, with the primary complaints focused on increased administrative work. Still, doctors aren't surprised to see the trend catch on, Blair says.

To learn more:
- read the article