With increasing standards and regulations in place, healthcare providers are looking to technology to streamline processes and improve patient care while lowering costs. Employing automation allows them to eliminate manual, paper-based administrative and clinical processes that are often repetitive and labor-intensive.
Roughly 40% of the tasks performed by healthcare support occupations can be automated, as can 33% of the tasks performed by healthcare practitioners and technical occupations. The United States is at the forefront of developing automation and artificial intelligence technology, with almost 85% of businesses seeing the use of it as essential to competitiveness.
The benefits of automation in healthcare are numerous. For example, completing revenue cycle management (RCM) tasks often is expensive and time-consuming, but automating them can markedly advance financial processes while enabling providers to focus on patient care.
As we mentioned in one of our recent blogs, “Top Trends in Medical Billing,” the emergence of automation in healthcare also has markedly streamlined clinician workflow and positively addressed the problem of physician burnout. In addition to time savings, it boosts productivity and efficiency for various professionals employed by hospitals, health systems and physician practices by automating repetitive analyses and procedures.
The implementation of automation in the healthcare industry also offers:
- Reduced human error
- Improved patient monitoring and management
- Enhanced provider-patient communication
- More comprehensive reporting
- Increased decision support for improved patient safety
- Enhanced clinical precision
- Quicker retrieval of data
- More thorough documentation
- Improved staff satisfaction
- Reduced labor costs
Streamlined Medical Billing
Medical billing is one of the areas in healthcare where automation is being utilized most. Providers using an outdated billing system risk an increased failure to collect copays and too-complex claims processes and unnecessary errors.
According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), coding errors resulted in $28.91 billion in improper payments in 2019. Automation identifies billing errors prior to a claim being submitted, resulting in cleaner claims that get paid quicker by payers. Similarly, automated payment solutions can be utilized to increase collections by automatically notifying patients about bills through email or text, and employing automated billing enables providers to reduce the number of staff members dedicated to the process and comply with HIPAA and other regulations.
Although a 5-10 percent denial rate is the industry average, automated medical billing processes help lower your rates, thereby improving your cash flow. The recommended amount of receivables older than 120 days should be between 12-25 percent, but automating RCM tasks aids in lowering it to less than 12 percent.
Applications of Automation in Healthcare
The Council for Affordable Quality Healthcare (CAQH) notes that the healthcare industry could save $9.8 billion annually by fully automating eligibility and benefit verification, prior authorization, claim submission, claim status inquiry, claim payment and remittance advice. Automation also can assist in managing inventory, entering repetitive data and digitizing patient files.
A time-consuming process, in the U.S. only about 25 percent of prior authorization work is automated. In an AMA survey, 86 percent of physicians described that prior authorization load as a “high” or “extremely high” burden, with 91 percent saying the process delays care and negatively affects clinical outcomes. Not only does automation simplify the prior authorization process, it also increases accuracy and improves the patient experience.
Used in appointment scheduling, automation helps fill appointment gaps, mitigate scheduling conflicts and enhance patient satisfaction. Patients can access online scheduling 24/7 and don’t have to wait on hold with a provider’s office to make an appointment. Used with automated appointment reminders, it helps prevent no-shows and cancellations.
On the clinical side, automation in radiology offers improved interpretation of medical images. Studies have confirmed the value of automation in processing medical scan results and found it offers more accurate diagnoses quicker.
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