NationsBank Corp. wants doctors to leave claims processing to the bank.
The Charlotte, N.C.-based institution has teamed up with Andersen Consulting to create an Internet-based financial and administration system for the health-care industry.
The system processes insurance claims and manages patients' medical records and other information. Future software releases will handle the payments from health maintenance organizations to doctors.
"Health-care companies want to focus on their customers, not on the financial and administrative processes they have to do," said Harrison Giles, NationsBank executive vice president. "This is the kind of financial administration that banks have historically done."
NationsBank wanted to expand its reach into the health-care industry, one of its largest customer bases, and to offer more electronic commerce services, Mr. Giles said.
"We are trying to get into information processing as much as payment processing," he said. In addition, the venture offers a "cost-saving alternative" to financial processing and will attract new customers, Mr. Giles said.
NationsBank and New York-based Andersen each own half the venture, which will charge on a per-patient basis.
Phycor Inc., a Nashville-based physician practice management company, is the first customer. Using Web browsers, Phycor's 21,000 doctors can access patient enrollment, claim status, and the state of their own contracts, said Michael Caine, an Andersen partner and the effort's acting chief executive officer.
The venture is one of several recent attempts by banks to expand beyond their traditional businesses, said Karen Wendel, vice president of Gemini Consulting, a Morristown, N.J.-based firm. Pairing with technology companies-which are often knowledgeable about specific industries-allows banks to penetrate new markets more quickly.
"Big banks are looking at ways to extend their reach up and down the supply chain," Ms. Wendel said. "We'll see more and more of these unlikely pairings between banks and technology providers."
These ventures, however, face many challenges and often fail, she said. The companies involved may have different goals and measurements of success.