Enhancements to an online website for clinicians to file Medicaid reimbursement claims with the state of Oklahoma were scheduled to go live Friday, to the chagrin of several mental health services providers who say the changes are a step backward.
The Oklahoma Health Care Authority (OHCA) paid HP Enterprise Services $1.3 million to update its 13-year portal, which is used by about 37,500 providers who provide medical services to some 803,000 needy Oklahomans, spokeswoman Jennie Melendez said.
Among other things, the enhancements allow clinicians to search for specialty providers and avoid faxing claims validations, said Melendez, noting her agency spent most of last year training clinicians on the changes.
Meanwhile, representatives for behavioral services agencies in Tulsa and southeast Oklahoma say the state is behind the times and instead should've used a secure file transfer protocol (FTP) system versus a web-centric system, and tested its enhancements externally.
With the changes, agency staffers now must undergo a double-authentication process upon login, answer a security question such as “What was your childhood dog's name?,” browse Web pages, select and upload claims files.
“Oklahoma needs to get with the times,” said Melanie Morgan, senior director of Daybreak Family Services in Tulsa. “I can't believe they are even wanting all agencies to have to manually do the above process. It's a waste of time and money for everyone.”
An information technology director of a mental health agency in rural southeast Oklahoma, who asked to remain unnamed, agrees. “All this does is introduce human error into the equation,” he said in an email to The Oklahoman.
“While in the middle of doing inquiries, the OHCA website will suddenly just quit working and you will get an ‘This page cannot be displayed' error message. This happens multiple times daily, forcing people to go from an automated system where you never have to touch a button, to manually upload using an archaic website that goes down often and offers you no guarantee that your job was completed is unacceptable.”
Lisa Gifford, chief of business enterprises for OHCA, said the agency chose a web- or net-centric system, versus FTP environment, because the former gives users immediate feedback on whether their claims are approved or suspended for further review. Using a net-centric and FTP system also would result in redundant data, or errors in data, and include lots of firewall issues, she said.
Moreover, the startup costs for FTPs runs some $950 per provider and is cost-prohibitive, she said.
But Clyde Wafford, owner of OrionNet Systems, which offers 100 mental health agencies streamlined processing software, is more than disappointed. He said third-party clearinghouses like Office Ally and MD Online have told him that Oklahoma is the only state that doesn't allow use of a secure FTP.
“It will make providers' lives harder,” Wafford said.