Abu Dhabi: Pre-approval of medical procedures and processing of claims will soon be done in just two minutes once hospitals, clinics and health insurance companies begin to implement an online authorisation scheme, a senior official said.

"With e-claims and online authorisation, hospitals will save a lot of money, waiting time will be much less and doctors can focus on their patients instead of filling out paperwork; we are currently in a trial period but intend to go live very soon," said Dr Mohammad Ajamy, Director, Network of the National Health Insurance Company (Daman) told Gulf News.

At present, hospitals and clinics send their doctor's findings on a patient's case to insurance companies, which in turn determines if the medical procedure they propose to undertake is covered by the patient's insurance cover.

The procedure usually entails 20 minutes.

Ajamy, speaking on the sidelines of the Daman Regional Conference 2009, said they expect to cut down the processing time to two minutes once the online authorisation is implemented very soon.

With Daman controlling approximately 80 per cent of the health insurance market, standardisation of e-claims and online authorisation among the rest of the 20 per cent of health insurance companies will further simplify the procedure among health care providers, added Ajamy.

With approximately 20 per cent of the UAE population suffering from diabetes, management of chronic diseases will be part of Daman's premium insurance cover while free medical care will be given to Thiqa (Emirati) card holders, Daman's CEO Dr Michael Bitzer told Gulf News. "We already started a pilot project with 200 patients and expect to increase the number to another 300 on quarterly basis and will start with Thiqa members first," Bitzer said. Daman will closely monitor the new scheme's results among diabetes patients and come up with an outcome by 2011 so they can cover more medical conditions.

"Asthma and chronic heart diseases are next on our calendar," said Bitzer.

Bitzer said international health insurance companies are impressed with the quality of health cover being implemented in the UAE. "Other countries are closely monitoring how the UAE is working with health care providers and are surprised at how fast we've implemented mandatory health insurance," he said.

Khalid Al Qubaisi, newly-designated Daman Chairman said they are striving to accomplish more and become the leader in health care in the region.

Abu Dhabi Last February, Gulf News reported on how furious Thiqa card holders at Abu Dhabi National Oil Co (Adnoc) were with Daman's services.

Despite requests for a comment, neither parties confirmed nor denied reports that their relationship was terminated. Reports however, said majority of Thiqa card holders wanted to use the Oman Health Insurance scheme instead. Commenting on the issue, Dr Mohammad Ajamy, Director at Daman, said: "I am unaware of employees at Adnoc being unhappy with our programme. On the contrary, until now I receive positive feedback from Thiqa card holders in general and am surprised to hear about this allegation."