I frequently write about business process improvement and information agility. To illustrate best practices, I draw from the many successful BPM and case management implementations  I have been fortunate to work with or review.  This is NOT one of those articles!

 Process rant alert: With apologies in advance to the many forward thinking,  technology-enabled companies in the healthcare insurance arena, this article is  both a rant about inefficient processes and a plea for better customer-oriented service from that sector.

 Six weeks ago I accidentally (yes accidentally) slammed the car door on my husband Tom’s hand while rushing to beat the beltway traffic for a meeting.  It was very early in the morning and a bad cut,  so we headed over to our local emergency care facility for x-rays, tetanus shot, nerve tests and stitches.  The good news  was that there was no nerve damage, just a chipped bone and a deep cut that would heal over time.  The doctor and all the technicians and assistants at the facility provided top notch medical care. We went back to remove the surgical splint 2 days later and then to remove the stitches 10 days later.  Each time we used our Healthcare Insurance Card and our Flexible Spending Card and felt lucky – especially at that first visit when we were so upset –   that the payment side of things was that simple.  Well, the hand healed really well without infection or permanent damage. I had thought the only bad aftermath would be my newly inherited chores – snow shoveling and  dog walking – and  the required  incessant apologies to my injured spouse.  There was more.  

Two weeks ago I received three letters in the mail from my FSA card provider for the emergency care facility visits.  In each separate letter there was a paper to be filled out and a request for a detailed invoice or EOB to be attached and mailed back with the letter to substantiate the claim charges.  Ironically at the top of each letter was the phrase “Convenience Card Substantiation Request.” So this morning I spent an hour printing out EOB documents from my healthcare insurance provider’s website to combine with my Flexible Spending Account servicer’s requests for substantiation.  I’m packing them into a large envelope and heading over to the post office to send them in.  This is not convenient in anybody’s definition of the word.

 My colleagues and I  see process improvement opportunities every day and successes when the latest BPM and case management methodologies and technologies are applied.   Today I just experienced firsthand what happens to the “customer” when they aren’t applied. 

Oh, and did I mention I am really sorry Tom for slamming your hand in the car door.