Claims administrator selects forms processing: FormWare Release 1.5 delivers ROI for Crawford & Company

Crawford & Company (Atlanta), the nation's largest third-party administrator of workers compensation claims, has traditionally used manual keying to extract data from a daily flow of more than 7,000 HCFA-1500, UB-92 and related forms. An internal medical bill review project at Crawford, however, recently recommended FormWare's (www.formwarecorp.com) automated forms processing technology to capture data faster and more accurately while helping to reduce the time required to adjudicate and pay claims.

The FormWare system will be fully integrated with First Health's (Salt Lake City) cost management and adjudication system. Louis Richardson, Crawford's director of imaging, workflow and document management, declined to reveal the dollar amount of Crawford's investment in FormWare, but did acknowledge that "the ROI we identified was impressive and significant in our decision."

FormWare CEO and President Reynolds Bish said, "This was a good-sized order for FormWare: Crawford's ROI will be significant and should be realized within six to 12 months of installation."

The first phase of the installation will be completed by mid-summer; eventually, the manual processing functions of five regional centers will be consolidated in a single Global Service Center in Atlanta. In the short term, forms will be mailed to the service center. Eventually, Crawford plans to implement regional scanning to further shorten the time from bill receipt to payment while decreasing postage costs.

How did Crawford select FormWare? Richardson said, "Interestingly enough, our first exposure to the technology was through Symbus. We were impressed with their OCR capability but thought we would have to go elsewhere to get the key-from-image and job flow features we required. It was a pleasant surprise when our Symbus representative announced the merger with TextWare (to become FormWare). The power of the Symbus recognition engine, coupled with the production capabilities of TextWare made our decision easy."

Richardson cited other needs addressed by FormWare's melding of Symbus and Textware technology: "We wanted form recognition because we didn't want to manually separate our incoming bills. We wanted an OCR application proven in HCFA and UB environments and a good key-from-image application for those bills that are not candidates for OCR. We needed a workflow capable of managing the tasks and queues from scanning to export and we wanted to get it all from one vendor."

Richardson estimated that non-standard forms will require key entry for some 30% of the total forms volume. That plays to one of FormWare's strengths: Bish asserted that FormWare's DE2/Images module, with its sophisticated image-assisted keying capabilities, will help speed the flow of forms requiring manual intervention. "The careful integration of the inevitable human element, with its associated ergonomic demands, is a critical factor in successful forms processing," he said.

FormWare is also developing additional customized form recognition capabilities so that Crawford can reduce its 30% non-standard forms volume. After the forms have been processed, an Oracle (www.oracle.com) database archives both images and data, indexed by claim number. The data is ultimately formatted and transmitted to First Health, the largest managed care organization in the country, which provides comprehensive claims management services. It's obvious that Crawford plans to realize further ROI by contracting with First Health; First Health licenses its services by charging customers a percentage of the cost savings that First Health delivers.

Bish considers the Crawford deal significant on a number of other fronts. The installation reinforces FormWare's position as "the leading provider of software for medical claims processing," he said. It's one of the first implementations of FormWare Release 1.5 (which now reflects the synergies realized by the combination of Symbus and TextWare), and the order showcases FormWare's increased emphasis on professional services. Bish is particularly pleased with the professional services component. "We have significantly increased our staff and capabilities in this area to meet the needs of our channel partners and direct end-user customers," he explained.

Bish estimates that about one-third of FormWare's 58 employees are directly involved in professional services.

Since the merger, FormWare has enjoyed continued success. Bish attributes his company's 110% increase in revenues over the last fiscal year and equally bullish projections to a smooth merger process. "We knew one another ahead of time," Bish said, "so there were no surprises. Consequently, we were able to very quickly realize all of the synergies we anticipated from the merger."

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