Aetna adopts paperless contracting, electronic signatures

"Aetna is dedicated to helping people achieve health and financial security, and we believe fostering a healthy environment is an important part of this mission," reads the health insurer's environmental policy statement. "We are committed to limiting our environmental impact by reducing our energy consumption and the use of other resources… because we recognize the impact of a clean environment on the health of our members."

The most recent of Aetna's green initiatives is its adoption of electronic contracting in order to reduce the trees cut down and fossil fuels burned in order to print and deliver paper agreements between payer and providers.

But Aetna's use of EchoSign's electronic signature software doesn't just have environmental benefits.

It also makes the contracting process quicker, less expensive, and "more efficient and streamlined for the provider as well as Aetna," says Paul Marchetti, head of Aetna’s National Networks and Contracting Services.

"Typically the recruitment on these in the paper mode has been taking two to three weeks,” he says. “Through our process we've been able to cut that down to one or two days."

Nearly 75 percent of Aetna’s total transactions with healthcare providers is electronic. Marchetti says the insurer is the first in the industry to extend that to electronic contracting.

EchoSign's e-signature service helps ensure that Aetna's contracting process meets compliance, legal and security requirements. The secure, key-authenticated software also provides an online audit trail for all contract processes and real-time visibility into the contract management process.

"One of the core elements of the relationship between Aetna and its providers is the contract," says Marchetti. "This really cuts down on not only the turnaround time, but the cost. And also, the provider not having to handle and manage all that paper just makes it more efficient."

As of now, most of the electronic agreements are simple, no-negotiation contracts. But going forward, says Marchetti, "we anticipate continuing to build off of this, using the technology to allow for some levels of negotiations to occur electronically. On the provider side, it allows them, if they're dealing with multiple payers, to quickly and electronically archive these types of documents, creating an easy way for retrieval and storage on the provider end."

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