Monday, November 26, 2007

Medicare EFTPOS System

Last week I tried the new "Easyclaim" EFTPOS based system for claiming a Medicare rebate. The system worked but could be made simpler, both for the patient and particularly for the doctor's staff.

With the Easyclaim system, the patient first pays for their treatment to the doctor. This can be done by EFTPOS using a credit, debit or banking card. The Medicare rebate is then claimed using the same bank EFTPOS machine. The patient's Medicare card is first swiped, the details of the claim entered and then the patient's transaction card swiped for the details of where the refund is to be made. The result is that two cards are involved, with three swipes over two transactions.

One difficulty is that the doctor's staff have to pre-set up the system with the types of services provided using the EFTPOS keypad and display for input. The EFTPOS unit has only a numeric keypad and small LCD screen making this data entry difficult.

Some ways the system could be made simpler would be to have a bank account pre-set by default for all payments to the patient. This would remove the need for their transaction card to be swiped each time. This could be a bank account chosen specifically for Medicare payments, or could be one for all government payments. That would also reduce the risk of fraud.

Also there could be an option for the doctor's staff to enter the setup details via a secure web page, rather than via the EFTPOS terminal. This would allow for easier data entry.

However, the Esiclaim system, despite some problems, is worthwhile. It is relatively small, simple and inexpensive, compared to the Australian Government Smart Card Project, which the policy of incoming ALP government rightly intends to scrap.

No comments: