There may not yet be an iPad in the hands of every consumer who is eligible for Medicare, but tablet technology can still speed up the Medicare plan enrollment process.

Coventry Health Care Inc., Bethesda, Md. (NYSE:CVH), recently joined with Senior Market Sales Inc., Omaha, Neb., and DestinationRx Inc. (DRX), Los Angeles, to test a tablet-based field enrollment system.

Instead of expecting consumers with disabilities and people over age 65 who are eligible for Medicare to have tablets, the companies put an enrollment system in the hands of agents.

The companies found that using a lightweight, networked system with a big screen cut the average amount of time an agent spent with each applicant by about 20% and also cut Coventry’s application processing time by about one day, DRX says.

Using a wireless system can help an agent detect missing information or obviously incorrect information immediately, while the applicant is still nearby to deal with the problems, DRX says.

Anything that speeds up and simplifies Medicare plan enrollment could have a big impact, because some have estimated paper-based enrollments cost an average of more than $100 per application.