Therabill has started offering a third choice for viewing your CMS-1500. This third choice is labeled flattened. Here is a detailed description of what flattened means and why Therabill offers the flattened option.
What is PDF?
Portable Document Format (PDF) is a file format created by Adobe. Unlike software such as Microsoft Word, the viewer of a PDF document does not have to have the same software installed on their computer that the creator of the PDF document used to create it. For example, if you were to create a Microsoft Word file and send that file to a friend, then your friend would have to have Microsoft Word installed on their computer in order to open it up and view it. What Adobe did was create two separate software programs. There is the PDF creation software (which costs money) and then there is the free Adobe Reader, which can be used to simply view PDF documents. By doing this, a PDF document can be shared with anyone, as long as they have the free Adobe Reader installed.
PDF Documents & PDF Forms
Adobe has also given the creator of the PDF file the ability to create fields within the PDF document that will allow for "on the fly" entry of information into the PDF document. In Therabill, when you create an insurance claim, you may have noticed that you have the ability to open it up and change values within it. That is because it is a PDF form. A simple answer to what the difference is between a PDF form and a PDF document, is that a PDF form has editable fields within it and a PDF document does not have editable fields within it.
What does Therabill mean when it says "Flattened"?
Flattening is done to a PDF form by taking the values that are entered into the fields of the PDF form and embedding them to create a PDF document. This means that file is no longer a PDF form, therefore, it can no longer be edited. If you are in Therabill and you open up the flattened version of the insurance claim, you will notice that you can not make any changes to the values on the CMS-1500.
Why does Therabill give the option of a flattened CMS-1500 insurance claim form?
There are a couple of reasons why Therabill has given the option for a flattened PDF document version of the CMS-1500 claim form.
- Adobe Bug: Remember, it is Adobe that creates and maintains the software that you use to view a PDF document or form on your computer. When they (Adobe) make any updates that have bugs in them (which they do, a lot), other software such as Therabill, will sometimes have to adapt by making some changes to keep things flowing as smoothly as possible within Therabill. Recently, Adobe released an update that will not let the PDF forms be printed. That is, if you tried to print a CMS-1500 (PDF form), the fields would not properly print and you would appear to print a blank document. Obviously, there is nothing that Therabill could do to fix Adobe's product, we can only make a work-around. To get around this, we give you the "flattened" option. Since the flattened version of the CMS-1500 has the information embedded into it, it will print.
- iPad: More and more Therabill members are starting to manage their therapy practice using an iPad. Since Therabill is web based practice management software, this is a good fit because it runs fairly smoothly within the Safari web browser on the iPad. Unfortunately, the PDF reader used in the Safari web browser can not display the contents of a PDF form. The CMS-1500 would appear blank when viewing on the iPad. Offering the flattened version is a way around this. For other iPad tips and tricks, please see: Therabill iPad Tips, Tricks, and known Issues.