Electronic signatures and digital pin-numbers may be used by health insurers to speed up customers’ claims.
Although this sounds more sci-fi than PMI, both the ABI and the British Medical Association (BMA) are “floating these ideas around”. Omar Hameed, legislation manager at the ABI said: “We have had a problem with GPs releasing medical records to the insurer after a policyholder has made a claim.”
He added: “Although they may have signed a form of consent permitting this when they took out the policy, GPs are often concerned that they do not have a valid consent form when it is simply photocopied and sent through on a fax.”
The BMA claimed that some patients had brought GPs to book under the Data Protection Act, and many more GPs were anxious about this law.
Hameed said: “This reluctance to release records often causes a delay in paying a claim. An insurer has the right to check the policyholder’s previous medical history before paying any claim.”
He added: “New technology could certainly help.” The ABI is proposing that there are computer links between insurers and GPs’ clinics which will allow the policyholder’s normal manuscript signature to be transmitted electronically. This would confirm that he had given consent for his medical records to be passed to the insurance company in the event of a claim.
Hameed said: “It is possible with the advances in technology that doctors will be able to use a pin number or another form of digitally encrypted logarithm to access the insurers’ records direct to confirm that consent had been given for medical records to be passed to them.”
However, Hameed said that these new methods did not address the main problem with consent forms. “Many doctors are concerned that although a patient may have signed these forms they do not fully understand what this means,” he said. “The only way to tackle this problem is to ensure that these forms are worded clearly. We are working with health insurers to ensure that all their documentation is user friendly.”