California Healthline Daily Edition

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Orange County Will Spend $475,000 More on Claims Submission Because of Delayed Implementation of Computer System

The Orange County Health Care Agency will have to spend an additional $475,000 to submit Medi-Cal bills to the state manually this year while software company Cerner completes installment of an $11 million computer system that was originally scheduled to be operational by July 2002, the Orange County Register reports (Brown/Lourie, Orange County Register, 3/11). The system is intended to centralize mental health patients' medical records and submit claims to the state for services eligible for Medi-Cal reimbursement, but it immediately malfunctioned when launched in September. David Riley, chief compliance officer for the agency, said that some of the problems arose because the state now requires all Medi-Cal claims to be filed in a new format -- which neither the new computer system nor the previous system could replicate -- to comply with provisions of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (California Healthline, 2/18). Cerner officials told the Orange County Board of Supervisors last week that they believed they could have the system, which was purchased in January 2001, operating by this December. Cerner official Zane Burke said that the firm has committed to delivering the software for testing by May 31. At that point, county supervisors "will decide the project's future," the Register reports. According to the Register, if county officials are not able to get the system functioning, "they might have to scrap parts of it or start over." Dr. Dan Hatton, chief information officer for Orange County, said, "The only thing I can tell you is that I am looking at other options if this product does not work" (Orange County Register, 3/11).

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