ON 5 APRIL 1995.

The meeting opened at 10.30 am, and was chaired by Andrew Freeman,
Chair, OTSIG.

These minutes were prepared by Sandra Henderson, Minute Secretary,

David Num, Manager, Systems Operations, Health Insurance Commission
(HIC), described the Direct Bill Processing System of the HIC.

The HIC has a large computing system through which they operate Medicare
Private, Medibank, Pharmaceutical Benefits, Childcare Benefits,
the Department of Veterans' Affairs Treatment Accounts System and a number
of smaller health-related systems.

The computer installation consists of 2 IBM computers, with 961GB storage.
The computers, in Deakin and Tuggeranong, are linked by optical fibre.
There are 4500 terminals in 270 locations, 2,200,000 messages per day, a
response time averaging under 3 seconds.  There are 32,000 metres of paper
produced daily, and 110,000 cheques printed each day.  Up to 45,000
plastic cards are issued daily, and about 150,000 postal items produced
each working day.

The Direct Bill Processing system handles provider bulk billing
information, which accounts for 70% of all Medicare services.  The
business objective addressed by the RFI for the system was a need to
reduce keying.  In nearly all cases, information received is on
handwritten forms (there is file transfer from some large pathology
companies, but spread of this technology is slow).

The system handles approximately 250,000 general practitioner claims and
417,000 total claims per day, by scanning vouchers as they are received.
 OCR is used to derive information from the images.   Approximately 50% of
images are sent for "image repair" by keyboard operators, who work from
the scanned image to produce accurate information for claims processing.
The original paper copies are retained, in archives in each state.

Images are moved to Canberra overnight, making use of spare bandwidth, and
stored on an optical jukebox.

The system was implemented within a short time-frame, causing some
problems, as there had been no volume testing.  Since it was the first
major project undertaken by the HIC using a systems integrator (Tower
Technology), there was some organisational adjustment needed.

The vouchers being used have been optimised for OCR, and there is, in
addition, Optical Mark Recognition being used for the check boxes on the
form, and some intelligent character recognition.  Recent redesign of the
forms has led to improvements in OCR readability - for example, the
Medicare number error rate has declined from 12.2% to 13.7%

The HIC is now working with the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology
(RMIT), on a project to make more use of neural
network processing, using a constrained vocabulary recognition process.

In answer to a question about workflow changes, David indicated that staff
had been kept as informed as possible about changes as the system was
developed, via a newsletter and a video.

The second speaker was Steve Murphy, from J S McMillan Printing.  This
company has substantial government contracts, including work for DEET and

The company's emphasis is on adding value to the standard printing
services.  To this end, they offer consultancy in forms design and
analysis, forms processing, and forms distribution, using partnership
arrangements with clients, and consortia arrangements with suppliers.

It was stressed that improved forms design and processing leads to
substantial improvements in departmental efficiency.  Their aim is to
optimise the forms not only for users, where the aim is reduced errors in
completion of the forms, but also optimisation for the department.

Among projects undertaken over recent years has been a major overhaul of
the Australian Tax Office forms, which resulted in  a reduction in the
number of forms from 70 to 3, and consequent reductions in processing of
tax forms.  They are also working with DEET to improve forms distribution,
with a central database of forms, which can be accessed to allow local
printing of required forms.  Work with DIEA has included the passenger
card system, where forms design in constrained by international regulations.

The company has an active research and development area, keeping up with
developments in forms design and processing, including scanning technology.

During the tea break, Frank Woods from the Department of Defence (DoD)
provided a demonstration and discussion of the forms processing system being
implemented within DoD.

Andrew Freeman drew attention to information about a number of forthcoming
. there is to be a dinner seminar by the Records Management Association on
12 July, with Karen Drabenstott as guest speaker.  The topic of the
presentation is Information - How can we manage it?
. the National Preservation Office is holding a conference Multimedia
Preservation: Capturing the Rainbow, in Brisbane 27-30 November
. the Australian Society of Archivists is holding its annual conference in
Canberra 27-29 July.  The theme of the conference is Archivists - the
Image and Future of the Profession.
. there is a national conference Educating for the Future, being held at
the University of Canberra 13-14 July.  The conference is aimed at
information professionals.

The minutes of the previous meeting were accepted without amendment, and
there was no business arising from the minutes.

The December 1995 meeting of the group will be concerned with electronic

It was also decided that at the next meeting the Australian Electoral
Commission (AEC) representative would outline briefly initiatives being taken
at the AEC.

The next meeting of OTSIG will be Wednesday June 7, at 10.30 am in the
Community Room of the Belconnen Library.  The meeting will be looking at
recent developments in Multimedia.