I dislike insurance companies. At times, it seems like their purpose is to make family physicians' lives miserable by inundating us with time consuming, difficult to fill, paper forms (multi-axial diagnoses; precise time of return to work; lenthy functional enquiries; detailed descriptions of amount of weight that a patient is able to lift; repeated requests for the same data, etc). I have noticed that, for the past several years, they are refusing to pay for the forms they request. Often, the request is urgent, detracting from patient care.
I wonder if I can use the EMR to make the process less burdensome. My notes are now typewritten and legible, which is both a good and a bad thing. I have tried sending a printout of relevant visits, to see if the adjustors would be happier with that than with the usual illegible note. However, I received a note recently from a large company, stating that a life insurance application was denied because the patient has "anxiety disorder and OCD and hypochondriasis". In fact, what had happened was that I coded the visit as ICD9 300 because there was no specific diagnosis. I have to have a code to bill OHIP, and this is what I have used as a "catch-all" in the past. Non-specific problems are very common in family practice.
I wrote another letter to the insurance company stating that it was not OCD etc, it was just an ICD9 300, and suggesting they familiarize themselves with ICD coding in primary care. I received a letter back asking for an explanation of the visit, what the subjective and objective findings were etc. I think I will have to think twice about sending real encounter reports to the insurance corporations.
What does seem to work is the initial medical report for life insurance applications (Keyfacts and others). I send the typed CPP, which is well organized and legible; they also often ask for serial BP measurements, which the EMR readily produces. As well, I can reproduce my flowsheet for diabetes. I should note that these companies do pay for the reports.
The insurance reports are a significant source of stress for me and my colleagues. I wish there was some way that the Corporations could support EMR implementation by making the reports "fit" with the EMR, that is, by accepting legible, typed CPPs and flowsheets, along with a simple statement of diagnosis and prognosis. This would be much easier for me to do, and would likely contain more accurate information for the Corporation. My depression flowsheets, for example, contain serial PHQ9 scores, accompanied by medication changes and notes about therapy type; this would not be difficult to interpret, and follows accepted guidelines. All my diagnoses are ICD9 coded, which will help in standardization. I can't say this is perfect, as noted above; however, I am very careful with ongoing conditions in the CPP. Perhaps these corporations could even pay for the EMR report; this would be another incentive to computerize.