Maryland officials this week activated what they believe is the first system in the nation that allows physicians and other healthcare providers to enroll for Medicaid and check the status of claims online.
"I would say we're on the leading edge," says Alan Shugart, director of systems and operations for the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene's Medicaid office.
A CMS spokesperson said Friday that he was unaware of any other Medicaid programs with similar technology.
Called eMedicaid, the system is linked to state professional licensing boards to verify that physicians, nurses, social workers and other healthcare providers who want to enroll in Medicaid are licensed to practice in Maryland. Shugart says this feature eliminates the average two-week period physicians have had to wait for approval with the old, paper-based process.
Maryland adds about 500 to 1,000 new physicians a year to its Medicaid program, Shugart says.
All Medicaid providers in the state can use eMedicaid for instant, round-the-clock, Web-based access to remittance advice, claims status and six months' worth of claims history, which Shugart says will free up the health department's provider relations staff to work on older, more complex claims research.
Additionally, eMedicaid permits the six HMOs participating in Maryland's HealthChoice managed care Medicaid program to update their provider lists instantaneously, replacing the old method of sending weekly batch files by floppy disk.
The more than 450,000 HealthChoice enrollees--about three-fourths of the entire Medicaid population in the state--can access eMedicaid to search for physicians in the HMO networks, Shugart says.