NU Online News Service, Jan. 11, 2005, 4:25 p.m. EST

A Louisville, Ky., managed care company is helping a national effort to improve insurers’ relationships with doctors.[@@]

The company, Humana Inc., has joined the Universal Credentialing DataSource, a database organized by the Council for Affordable Quality Healthcare, Washington, that includes information about doctors’ education and work experience.

The DataSource service is supposed to cut doctors’ operating costs by giving them a simple tool they can use to sign up with many different health insurance provider networks at the same time.

CAQH developed the database, which is free for doctors, in response to complaints from doctors. Doctors told CAQH that each insurer has been asking them to fill out all-but-identical forms 4 times per year.

Doctors can submit information to the CAQH database through the Web or by fax. The service will share information with health insurers whenever a doctor has given it permission to do so.

Any health care organization with credentialing requirements can use the credentialing service. Health care organizations finance the service by paying annual administrative fees and annual fees for each doctor checked.

Each health care organization reviews the credentialing data and decides independently whether a doctor meets its standards, CAQH says.

So far, about 150,000 providers have registered with the CAQH database service, CAQH says.