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Medicare HETS 270/271 Eligibility - Information Bulletin - Communication Protocol Best Practices - March 2, 2011
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HETS 270/271

Medicare HETS 270/271 Submitters:

CMS recently made changes to the HETS 270/271 application that significantly improved HETS performance. CMS identified issues that were impacting HETS via detailed analysis of HETS 270/271 usage and was able to modify the application to improve performance.

Additional analysis of HETS 270/271 usage, especially focusing on submitter communication behaviors, has identified other opportunities for improvement. While HETS currently has adequate socket capacity to accept all incoming socket requests, CMS must ensure that submitters are making efficient use of CMS provided resources.

CMS is issuing a correction to information that was previously published in Section 4.3 of the HETS 270/271 Companion Guide. Paragraph 2 of Section 4.3 previously stated that submitters may submit multiple 270 requests via a single socket connection without waiting for a 271 response before triggering the next 270 request. CMS now recommends against this behavior. HETS processes transactions linearly, that is, one transaction after another. Submitting more than one 270 request concurrently will simply result in the additional request(s) queuing until the first request is processed, which causes elevated response times.

CMS analysis of submitter communication behavior also shows that more than 50% of all 270s sent to HETS originate from submitters who do not close their socket when complete. This is the equivalent to finishing a phone conversation but not hanging up the phone and needlessly wastes CMS resources. CMS requires that all HETS 270/271 submitters review their HETS communication protocol practices and ensure that they are immediately terminating the socket connection once they have completed their transaction(s). This simple change will result in a significant improvement of socket availability for all HETS submitters.

CMS has compiled a list of HETS submitter DO's and DON'Ts to provide additional guidance regarding HETS 270/271 communication protocol best practices that have been identified during CMS analysis. A copy of these best practices is available in the Downloads section below.

CMS requires that all HETS 270/271 submitters read this document and then review their HETS communication protocol practices to ensure that their organization is following these best practices. CMS will contact submitters whose behavior is not consistent with these practices to determine the submitter's action plan to improve.

Please contact the Help Desk if you have any questions or concerns.

Medicare Customer Assistance Re: Eligibility (MCARE) Help Desk