Medipass and HICAPS - How does it work?
- May 30, 2017 at 8:01am
- Ben Strachan
Since the early 1990s, Australian health professionals have used a terminal-based payment system known as HICAPS to receive immediate payments. Unfortunately, the processing of HICAPS-based health insurance payments has not been significantly upgraded since its inception – until now.
Medipass technology company has created a mobile app that permits health insurance payments without a terminal. Payments are processed on mobile (smart) phones - patients simply enter their health insurance and credit card information.
The Medipass app is layered on top of the HICAPS payment system, likely to maintain backwards compatibility.
How does Medipass work?
After downloading the mobile Medipass app, patients enter their health insurance and credit card information.
A 'Push' notification appears on the patient's smartphone, after which time the patient hits 'Accept Payment Request'. The payment is then processed using the entered health insurance information and eftpos (electronic funds transfer at point of sale), with money going into the practitioner's bank account.
Alternative to HICAPS
Medipass is an alternative to the traditional hicaps terminals. Your patients can claim their health insurance rebate without scanning a card. Basically it's a hicaps terminal on your mobile phone.
What makes the Medipass button work in software?
Even though the exact configuration is different for each software platform, Medipass keeps a database of all patients who have downloaded their application.
The actual workings follow a three-step process:
1) Find the patient record.
Your practice management software has patient details, so you need to match these details to HICAP. Most will use: first name, last name, date of birth, email, and phone to determine what phone to send the payment notification to. If a match is available, the Medipass button will appear.
2) Send invoice data.
Similar to HICAPS terminal operation, invoice data is required for the Medipass system, i.e.:
• Item number
• Provider number
3) Web hook received.
Clearly, you need to know if the payment was successful. Confirmation (success) comes in the form of information sent back outlining the payment details (i.e. amount of each invoice). A failure notice implies that you need to redo the process.
Application, API key, & Practice management software
Business who would like to use Medipass and Hicaps mobile app, need to do two things:
- Register business & update provider numbers: hicaps.com.au/mobile
- Wait for approval
- Enter medipass API key into practice management software.
You'll need to create a HICAPS mobile account for your business, and update your provider numbers. The application process is simple, although for hicaps the approval process is complex. Apparently this is due to money laundering legislation, something i know little about. When your application is successful, you will receive and email notification. Then you will need to enter your API key into your practice management software.
This allows the application to send your invoice notification, and tells HICAPs where to send your money.
Why is the Medipass application important?
Over the years, many health practitioners in Australia have become frustrated with HICAPS payment technology. However, given the lack of alternatives, they were nevertheless required to use it as the primary method for processing health insurance payments. Medipass is a monumental step forward, especially in the area of mobile healthcare.
HICAPS main limitation was its lack of portability, because the terminal must be plugged into a modem Ethernet port which provides Medicare the necessary information of the claim's physical location.
Although limiting for health professionals wanting to provide services outside of clinic settings, HICAPS' terminal-based system was considered vital for preventing fraud. Fortunately, Medipass seeks to eliminate this restriction and as a result expand opportunities for mobile allied health professionals.
Medipass Quote Feature.
Understandably, citizens in need of health services are concerned about how much they will have to pay. Today, most people served by allied health professionals use health insurance, since it pays part of the invoice. However, patients are wary of high gap payments, which is why they increasingly demand quotes from prospective clinics. Until now, practitioners couldn't always provide immediate answers, but that's about to change thanks to the Medipass app's quote feature.
Patients will be able to get instant information about exact health insurance and gap payments before their appointments.
Simplifying Home Visit Payments.
Clearly, one reason people prefer clinic visits to being treated at home is payment technology. Before the Medipass app, patients had to pay mobile practitioners the full invoice amount, and then manually submit claims to their health insurance company. Now with Medipass, patients can get their health insurance rebate immediately from anywhere.
Private (home) consultations are currently a small percentage of overall health-related interactions versus hospitals and clinics, but thanks to Medipass, the technology playing field between clinics and mobile practitioners is leveling out.
Many clinics struggle with class payments. For example, if ten people attend, it can take ages to process payments - which increases the per class and overall administration costs. Asking patients to make advanced payments, e.g. pay 5 or 10 classes, is not a popular option.
In contrast, Medipass payments are quick and will make classes much easier.
Are there any Medipass Disadvantages?
As with any payment technology, there are issues for average citizens to consider when using Medipass:
1. It requires a smart phone: Not everyone has a smart phone, in particular the elderly.
2. Foolproofing patient “ignorance”.
The onus is on patients to click the 'Accept' button, but sometimes they'll claim ignorance when it comes to parting with their money.
3. Requires Practice management software (read below).
4. Not all health insurance companies accepted.
For now, not all companies are registered, but this will change soon. It's a complex process adding health insurance companies – it will take an additional six (6) months to include them all.
5. No Medicare or Data Validation (DV) [Coming soon].
What does Owner Health offer Mobile Health Practitioners?
Owner Health is a progressive health service that provides practice management software for mobile practitioners offering seamless integration with Medipass. Our beta is complete and we are currently awaiting live API keys.
We are looking to become Australia's first allied health services company integrated with this cutting-edge technology, and believe our users will absolutely love the new feature.
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