May 5, 2011 By Sarah Rich
More than 60 percent of births in Oklahoma are covered by SoonerCare, the state’s Medicaid program for qualified residents.
That’s a lot of babies. And a lot of paperwork for the state’s health-care agencies. Three years ago the Oklahoma Health Care Authority (OKHCA) rolled out a Web-based newborn enrollment system for SoonerCare to speed up the time it takes to enroll a newborn onto the mother’s health record and to eliminate its paper-based registration system. Enrollment for the program is now available through a simpler online application.
The Web-based system, Electronic Newborn-1 (eNB1), developed by Hewlett-Packard, enrolls newborns to SoonerCare on a Web portal in real time and is utilized in 84 hospitals throughout the state, said Will Widman, HP’s Oklahoma account executive for state and local health care.
“They have access to health care immediately, which obviously in the long run helps with your baby. There’s not administrative paperwork going back and forth while that baby is waiting for health care,” Widman said
Since the 2008 implementation, nearly 71,000 newborns have been enrolled, Widman said.
The mother can request a primary care physician for the baby before leaving the hospital and that information is updated to the enrollment system. In the past, newborns were assigned primary care physicians through auto-enrollment, a process that dissatisfied some parents, according to the OKHCA.
Widman said the previous system involved submitting enrollment forms to the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, which took between two and three weeks to process. At times, errors would show up on the forms and require that they be resubmitted, which delayed the newborn’s enrollment in SoonerCare.
Richard Evans, the OKHCA’s director of enrollment automation and data integrity, said the eNB1 can only be accessed by hospital personnel and the application is available only through a secure website. When a baby is born to a mother enrolled in SoonerCare, the baby usually receives his or her own SoonerCare identification number before leaving the hospital. Within a few days, the identification card is mailed to the family’s home.
Evans said the registry enables the mother to add her newborn to a sibling’s existing primary care physician, even if the physician’s panel is full.
“We know that any provider in the state who’s already seeing a family member will allow another family member to come in and join their roster even though they’ve quit taking new patients,” Evans said.
By using the eNB1 system, the state realizes costs savings when newborns who need medical treatment are taken to their assigned primary care physician instead of the emergency room. This improvement alone decreases the state’s costs.
According to Evans, Arkansas, Kansas and other states are interested in implementing a system similar to the eNB1.
SoonerCare enrollment is part of a larger contract agreement between HP and Oklahoma. HP has worked with Oklahoma since 2002. Earlier this year, the company extended its $281 million, seven-year enterprise contract with the state.
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