Julie Klapstein is CEO of Florida-based Availity LLC, which last week announced its acquisition of Indianapolis-based RealMed Corp. The combined firms will have $100 million in annual revenue and want to work with doctors and health insurers to finally allow patients to pay their co-pays and deductible payments when they’re at the doctor’s office—not weeks later in the mail. The change could also allow doctors to get paid much faster for their services.

IBJ: Availity has so far sold payment-automation and real-time claims-adjusting products through health insurers, whereas RealMed has done more selling directly to doctors. Why should doctors be interested in this technology?

Klapstein: It’s all about reducing costs, improving efficiencies in the office, getting paid faster. When they see these capabilities, they know immediately that this will save them money.

IBJ: Doctors often accuse health insurers of being intentionally slow to pay the claims doctors submit to them. And yet Availity is part-owned by five health insurers, including Indianapolis-based WellPoint Inc. Why are insurers interested in technology that makes them pay doctors faster?

Klapstein: Insurance companies just want everything to flow through electronically and automatically. The more they can reduce phone calls, the more they can reduce those costs [to have people to answer phone calls and manually process claims]. They are very interested in anything that can move those transactions from the providers’ offices through their back offices and back to the providers, hopefully in real time.

IBJ: Why was Availity attracted to RealMed?

Klapstein: They offer revenue cycle-management services. But revenue cycle management was not one of our strengths, so now we can offer that as well. And they have focused on provider offices, and they have sales folks that are regionally based. That has been very attractive to us as well.

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