Doc delivery problems: got an answer?

Subject: Doc delivery problems: got an answer?
From: "Kristine J. Olberg" <kjolberg -at- IX -dot- NETCOM -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 18 Mar 1997 18:54:25 -0600

I write (actually, more like reiterate) docs that spell out the national
standards for electronic health care transactions. (For those of you in the
know, I document HCFA NSF, UB92, and ANSI X12 transactions.) These
standards are widely used for transferring electronic health care claims (I
call these "e-claims") between doctor's offices and insurance companies.

My problem is this: much as I'd like to say , "a standard is a standard is
a standard ...," it just isn't true. Almost every insurance company that
pays e-claims has a slightly different twist on the information they
require in the e-claim. Therefore, for various excellent business reasons,
I must document the "deviations" from the standard for each e-claim payer.
Because we support a variety of platforms, I've been doing this on hardcopy
by documenting the base for e-claims (that is, the standard) and
supplementing it with hardcopy payer-specific documents that supercede the

This system, even though it's less than ideal, has worked fairly well. But
now one of our salespersons is unhappy because one of his customers blew
off (or misplaced or ignored) the payer-specific documentation and coded
straight to the standard (oops!). During testing, their e-claims didn't
pass muster with the e-claim payer, so they had to make a bunch of changes
to the code (according to what I said in my payer-specific info). The
salesperson made me the scapegoat and copied a bunch of people on an
e-mail. It got ugly.

I didn't "win" or "lose" anything in the ensuing salvo of e-mails, but the
whole incident motivated me to find a better way to deliver this
documentation. My current direction is this: convert everything to HTML (or
SGML) and deliver it electronically. The ability to link between documents
largely solves the problem of having to look to two places for the
appropriate information. But what if my customers don't have a browser? I'd
still like to generate hardcopy if needed.

OK, all you tool tech-heads, is there a tool that will solve my problems?

kris -at- olberg -dot- com
kolberg -at- actamed -dot- com

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