WA physios to trial automated payments for Insurance Commission

 

The Insurance Commission (IC) of Western Australia (WA) is to rollout a new automatic payment method for physiotherapists to receive payment for services the next day for treatment delivered. This is for WA physiotherapy practices only.

In WA, the IC handles physiotherapy services for more than 7000 claimants each year, totalling a number of services greater than 100,000. The new IC initiative aims to support WA physiotherapists by ensuring they receive payment in less time than before.

Musculoskeletal physiotherapist, and owner of multiple practices in WA, Cameron Tweedie, APAM, has worked in the industry for more than 30 years. Many of the patients seen in his practices are motor vehicle and workplace accident cases.

Cameron states that ‘historically the IC hasn’t told physios whether it will fund the treatment we provide to patients for up to four weeks. This creates a lack of certainty for the physios and the patients as to whether treatment bills will be paid. It has also resulted in either the patient or the practice being out of pocket. Even worse, it has sometimes resulted in patients delaying their treatment as there was no guarantee the service would be funded.’

On this he notes that the previous system had a ‘poor outcome all round’.

Recently, the IC approached Cameron to ask if his physiotherapy practices would participate in a trial of the new automated payment system, to which he agreed, stating that he ‘immediately said yes’ and that he could ‘only see this as a win-win-win’.

Elaborating on this he said ‘it’s a win for the patient who gets the treatment they need and doesn’t have to worry about the payment. It’s a win for the physiotherapy practice as we get payment certainty and improved cash flow. Plus, it will result in less administration—we won’t have to send paper invoices or chase payment. And it is a win for the IC, as it obviously streamlines and simplifies their payment process, creating greater efficiency’.

Three of Cameron’s practices, LifeCare Kingsway, Joondalup and Prendiville, are partnering with the IC of WA to trial the automated payment system and, along with one GP practice, will be the first in Australia to receive automated payments for preapproved treatment delivered to injured motorists and government employees.

Before providing treatment, practices will be able to use the HICAPS quote function to check if a service is preapproved.

Claimants will have the option to provide physiotherapists with a 19 digit treatment number to be keyed into a HICAPS terminal and will be able to receive real-time approval notification for preapproved service.

Cameron says he is ‘delighted the Insurance Commission is bringing this greater focus on the patient by enabling their early access to funded treatment. All physiotherapists know that early of the injured person and the insurer, and is also the best financial outcome for both parties.

‘I encourage the Insurance Commission to continue its efforts to improve the recovery of claimants by funding their early intervention and rehabilitation. Helping someone recover as quickly as possible gives us all a great sense of satisfaction.’

The move to automated payments reflects a continued effort by the IC to deliver efficient, effective and contemporary services to its claimants and service providers. Aside from physiotherapists, the other services to be first in line for automated payment (chosen due to the high volume of injured motorists and government employees accessing these services) are GPs, chiropractors, osteopaths and medical specialists.

A representative from the IC WA spoke to Anja Nikolic, APA CEO. Anja ‘congratulates the IC’s initiative to enable automated payments for preapproved treatments.’ She is ‘delighted to see the IC of WA become the first motor injury or workers compensation insurer in Australia to pay for its services via HICAPS. We look forward to seeing other insurers follow the IC’s lead across the country at a time when payment certainty and cash-flow management is so important’.

Payments made next day

Payments to service providers will be made within 48 hours, depending on the provider’s bank.

The bonuses to this updated system include:

  • preapproved services support early payment for treatment
  • same payment process with faster payment—same as private health insurers
  • rollout from July 2020 with other payment channels to follow.

Further information will be sent to WA members about the initiative to support them receiving payments more quickly.

>> Visit icwa.wa.gov.au/payments for more information.

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