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WebMD problems proliferate

In response to the article written by Karen Southwick, "WebMD may be due for a checkup":

I work for a small medical practice management company that specializes in pediatric offices. We work with WebMD. There are some things we've noticed with WebMD that were not mentioned in your article.

As you mentioned, WebMD has been working to fix its HIPAA-related problems. Unfortunately, its attempts have been pretty unsuccessful and very disruptive. For example, because it was having trouble handling claims both related and not related to HIPAA, it decided to implement a policy, whereby it would follow the old, non-HIPAA rules.

It did this on its own, without notifying its vendors or customers. Suddenly, all of our offices that were following the HIPAA rules found their claims being rejected, because they were not following the old, expired rules. This went over like a lead balloon.

Even worse, WebMD has been very slow to respond to questions and attempts to resolve such situations. The next issue has to do with WebMD losing reports. In your article, you discussed the lost claims. However, what has been more alarming is that they are also losing the reports that come back from the insurance companies. Because of this, a medical office has no real way of knowing or proving if the claims were ever received.

The last item is that we have noticed a tremendous amount of turnover in WebMD's staff. It seems as if anyone who has even the most rudimentary understanding of how things work at WebMD wants to find a new job as quickly as possible.

Since the beginning of the year, we have seen our primary contact turn over more than three times (thus, the average life span of an employee seems to be about five weeks).

John Canning
President, Physician's Computer
Winooski, Vt.