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Going Green In Health Care…

By CHARLIE BAKERI’m pretty sure that most public policy types believe they are doing
the right kinds of things to encourage a greener and more resource
sustainable economy.  And in many cases, I’m sure that translates into
a set of initiatives, laws and regulations that put the arm on private
sector organizations to do “better.”  I was thinking about this
yesterday as I was looking at the massive, paper, perfect
bound provider directories Harvard Pilgrim is required by MA state law
to produce.

I then started to think about all the paper we are required to
produce under various state and federal statutes and regulations, and
all the mailings and letters we are required to send out to various
constituents – providers, employers, members – under other state and
federal statutes.  I took a picture a couple of years ago of the amount
of paperwork – it covered a monstrous board room-like table in a very
large conference room – that the state of Massachusetts required us to
file to maintain our license to sell insurance in Massachusetts.  I
remember thinking then, “what a waste.”

This is just a guess – but I’m guessing that 80% of the paperwork we
generate and distribute as a health plan is due to federal or state
regulations that apply either directly to us – or to the employers we
often manage these administrative activities for.  My guess is the same
percentage would apply to my colleagues in the provider community,
too.  I’m also guessing that 80% of the required paperwork I mention
above could be done using digital and online solutions to accomplish
virtually the same thing.  The provider directory is a perfect
example.  The best provider directory is on our web site – not in that
directory – which is usually out of date by the time it’s in print.

So – if state and federal policymakers are so sure they want to
encourage a more sustainable, and less resource intensive economy, why
do they keep demanding that we do everything using paper-based
solutions?

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