The United States spends more than any other country on medical research and development. Unfortunately, it also expends nearly twice as much as other wealthy nations on healthcare, primarily due to higher prices for medications and healthcare professionals, as well as inflated administration costs.
Healthcare providers across the U.S. are starting to employ automation to streamline key financial and administrative aspects of their business to improve patient care while lowering costs. Using technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) enables them to eliminate manual, paper-based administrative and clinical processes that are often repetitive, labor-intensive and cost-ineffective.
According to a recent survey of almost 600 chief financial officers and revenue cycle leaders at hospitals and health systems across the country, more than 30% of respondents disclose that they’ve never utilized automation in revenue cycle operations. However, more than half plan to implement automation technology by the end of 2021.
Why is automation in healthcare so important? Approximately 40% of the tasks performed by healthcare support jobs can be automated, as can 33% of those performed by healthcare practitioners and technical occupations. 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.
Areas for Application
Hospitals and health systems have the option to use automation in multiple areas of their operations. Many physicians prefer the use of technology for administrative purposes, especially solutions that improve documentation and positively affect accuracy, quality of care, reimbursement and revenue. Among healthcare executives, more than 40% rank automating business processes, including administrative tasks or customer service, as their first choice for investment in AI technology.
It’s important to note, though, that technology solutions need to be designed and implemented with both doctors and their patients in mind and should offer actionable data directly at points-of-care. In addition to automating a variety of routine processes, they also must foster teamwork and collaboration and promote connected care.
Here are five ways hospitals and other healthcare providers can apply automation to meet and exceed their clinical, financial and operational objectives.
Improve Patient Outreach and Engagement
Patient no-shows cost the U.S. healthcare industry more than $150 billion annually. Providers that actively strive to minimize these missed appointments, however, can reduce no-shows by up to 70%, according to Becker’s Hospital Review. For hospitals and health systems attempting to improve their patient no-show and cancellation rates, automated communication methods, such as appointment reminders, are a highly effective option.
HIPAA-compliant text, voice or email automated reminders can be personalized and customized to remind patients of upcoming visits and preventive screening opportunities at regular intervals. Such automated patient outreach solutions are designed to enable providers to contact patients through their preferred method, thereby helping to improve patient satisfaction while saving time and promoting workflow efficiency for staff members.
Similarly, the use of automation for patient engagement offers time savings for both patients and providers. It gives physicians and other clinicians more time to focus on patient care and allows staff the opportunity to focus on other job duties.
Half of hospitals in the U.S will get lower payments for all Medicare patients because of their history of readmitting patients. By utilizing automation, they have the ability to help patients manage their medications and schedule follow-up care through text message reminders. The result is reduced readmissions, decreased costs, improved quality and higher patient satisfaction, all of which are beneficial to healthcare providers striving to increase their value-based reimbursement.
Promote Preventive Care
Although preventive care is an essential component to keeping patients healthy, a lack of information about, or reminders for these visits often results in noncompliance. Automated platforms can be implemented by hospitals and health systems to systematically detect patients who are at risk based on their medical or family history. This ensures patients receive relevant education and notifications about their individual risks and the benefits of preventative care.
Advocate Medication Adherence
Medication adherence has a direct correlation to positive health outcomes, especially for patients with chronic conditions. Some patients often forget to take their medication or are uninformed of the consequences that might occur from not taking it. By automating communication, clinical teams can deliver personalized outreach to remind patients to take their medication and provide information on side effects and the impact of non-compliance.
Maintain A Strong Revenue Cycle Through Accurate Medical Billing
U.S. healthcare providers and payers spend about $496 billion annually on insurance and medical billing, and an estimated 80% of medical bills have errors, according to the Becker’s Hospital Review report. Automating medical billing through AI is a cost-effective and precise way to generate bills in a timely manner for patients, resulting in reduced costs and increased receivables.
Medical billing automation also boosts employee productivity and efficiency, mitigates claims backlogs, decreases delays and denials in reimbursement, offers more comprehensive reporting, provides more thorough documentation and enables providers to fully focus on patient care.
Decreased Physician Burnout and Other Benefits
Many U.S. doctors report burnout at rates two times greater than non-physician working adults. Besides all of its other benefits, the use of automation in healthcare is designed to lessen this burden through solutions such as online payment, appointment scheduling, digital check-in, patient portals and more. Furthermore, contactless innovations like automated robots reduce the spread of disease in medical facilities and have the potential to improve overall organizational performance.
Additional advantages of automation in the healthcare industry include:
- Reduced human error
- Improved patient monitoring and management
- More comprehensive reporting
- Increased decision support for improved patient safety
- Enhanced clinical precision
- Quicker retrieval of data
- Improved staff satisfaction
- Reduced labor costs
GeBBS Healthcare Solutions is a leading provider of technology-enabled revenue cycle management solutions for medical providers and payers. Request a consultation today to find out how we can help your hospital or health system reduce operating and capital costs, recover revenue, improve patient satisfaction and increase productivity.