Minneapolis-based UnitedHealth Group says better use of technology can take a bite out of nation's health care tab.

The report, issued by the company's Center for Health Reform and Modernization, says savings of $332 billion in national health expenditure could be realized over the next decade by streamlining administrative processes. The paper contends savings can accrue across entire health care system by modernizing the administrative and transactional aspects of health care. For example, over the next decade the report predicts broader use of automated swipe cards could save $18 billion, creation of a national payment accuracy clearinghouse could save $41 billion, and elimination of paper checks and paper remittance advice could save $109 billion. 

However, to achieve these savings, the paper lists prerequisites including a sophisticated and consistent regulatory regime, a single credentialing and quality measurement process, and tighter mandatory data and transaction standards.

David Wichmann, president of UnitedHealth Group Operations, and one of the report’s co-authors says proposals derive largely from the company's experience as one of the largest health care technology companies in the country. “UnitedHealth Group, for example, now has 30 million magnetic swipe cards in circulation that would eliminate much red tape for patients, but the full potential of these cards will not be realized without agreed upon universal standards adopted across the health care system,” he says.

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