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Merge Healthcare launches new business unit to automate prior-authorization and improve referral success

Merge Healthcare Incorporated , a provider of enterprise imaging, interoperability, and clinical systems that seek to advance healthcare, announced the launch of a new business unit, iConnect Network Services, to deliver interoperability services to healthcare enterprises seeking to reduce the labor and overhead costs associated with prior-authorization processes, improve physician engagement among provider communities, and boost referral success. In an age of consolidation, accountable care, and narrow networks, health systems must have a better handle on the appropriateness and efficiency of the most valuable referrals in their network.

“Physicians and administrative staff dedicate between 10 and 20 hours a week solely to manual authorization tasks. We believe that thoughtful and seamless automation of the prior-authorization process can quickly provide necessary information for physicians to deliver appropriate care,” said Steve Tolle, Chief Strategy Officer and President of iConnect Network Services at Merge Healthcare. “In addition, roughly 50% of referrals never turn into a patient appointment due to lost faxes and lack of patient follow-up. These gaps represent a clear opportunity to improve care delivery and ensure the appropriateness of all imaging referrals. iConnect Network Services is designed to solve these key challenges within the healthcare enterprise while leveraging our clients’ existing IT infrastructure.” 

“The introduction of iConnect Network Services to the market is the culmination of more than a few years’ worth of development and strategic refinement,” said Justin Dearborn, Merge Chief Executive Officer. “Today’s announcement means that the entire suite of iConnect offerings are fully available to both our installed base of clients and those hospitals and health systems new to the scalable, intuitive, and efficient advantages iConnect Network Services accrues for their businesses,” he continued.

Imaging Specialists of Charleston is one such client.

“At Imaging Specialists of Charleston, we strive to deliver superior patient care and leverage advanced technology solutions to achieve the best possible results,” said Vicki Richter, Imaging Center Director at Imaging Specialists of Charleston. “We are pleased to partner with Merge Healthcare to implement iConnect Network Services in order to save our staff the time and costs associated with manual prior-authorization, to increase access to imaging data, and ultimately to improve the quality of care delivery.”

iConnect Network Services seeks to create a closed loop to efficiently manage orders for imaging, to automate the prior-authorization process, and to simplify the delivery of imaging results to the ordering physician. iConnect Network Services consists of three core offerings: iCNS Orders, iCNS Authorize, and iCNS Results.

  • iCNS Orders enables physicians to place electronic orders easily, to document the appropriateness of the order, and to reduce the volume of lost orders due to inefficient processes and lack of follow-up.
  • iCNS Authorize automates existing manual and costly prior-authorization processes for hospitals and imaging centers. In 81% of instances where claims are denied for imaging orders, prior-authorization was either not obtained or not handled properly.
  • iCNS Results delivers imaging results to the ordering physician within his or her existing EHR, ensuring ease of physician engagement and improved care delivery.