Easy search for fee schedules with Medical Fees Online

The doctor behind the EasyAssist software for surgical assistant billing has developed a new web-based database to allow doctors to quickly look up any item in the Medicare Benefits Schedule and find out the fees that apply.

As well as the Medicare fee schedule, Medical Fees Online (MFO) also provides the fees from health fund gap cover schemes, the Department of Veterans Affairs and workers' compensation bodies in different states.

MFO's developer, Michael Cappellone, is a doctor by training who does some work as a medical surgical assistant, and also happens to have a degree in IT. Several years ago he developed the EasyAssist software package to help find the right surgical assistant's fee for any MBS-listed operation in Australia, and to automatically generate an invoice.

Earlier this year, Dr Cappellone launched MFO as a free resource for any doctor, including medical specialists and GPs, to quickly look up MBS items and the fees that are attached.

“What I found working alongside surgeons in theatre is that there is no easy way for them to look up the schedule fees that are attached to a lot of the Medicare item numbers.,” he said.

“Often they'd have practice software back at their rooms and they'd have admin staff that could look that up, but there was nothing on site. There were times when I wanted to look up those fees as well. There was nowhere easy to just go and look that up on the internet.”

Dr Cappellone said there are numerous fee schedules out there from anywhere up to a dozen different health insurers or health insurance groups, and most of these fee schedules are updated several times a year.

“It's quite a task to download all of those documents so I had the idea to put all of that information onto a website and have a searchable database for all of those fees.”

He chose to create a very simple website rather than build an app for two reasons, he said. “A website is accessible by pretty much any device with a web browser, and I didn't want to be restricted. We just went with something that would work with all major browsers.

“Secondly, as I developed it myself, that is where my expertise lay. What I have tried to do is do one thing well and keep the interface as simple as possible so I don't need to have a lot of explanations of how to use it. It's fairly intuitive and when you see the drop-down boxes you know what you need to do, and the information returned is fairly self evident.”

He has tested the site with most browsers on mobile devices and said the site scales automatically to fit those devices reasonably well.

“It has the feel of a web app when you are using it through a mobile device. It's not hard to do as it's such a simple website in its layout that it really lends itself well to a mobile device as well as a full site.”

The site is aimed at any medical practitioner and their billing staff or practice manager, and is funded through advertising.

He originally also included the AMA's fee schedule but has since learned that the organisation does not permit others to use it.

“There is lots of other medical software out there that includes those fees, but they said they don't licence or authorise that to anyone, so I have taken that down.”

Posted in Australian eHealth

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