On June 23-26, the premier financial event for U.S. healthcare executives, the HFMA Annual Conference took place and the topic on everyone’s mind was automation and its impact on the revenue cycle.
Given this year’s conference theme was Make the Bold Choice and a key deliverable was to give healthcare providers the tools they need to lead change and deliver on the promise of transformation, it’s no surprise that automation and other technology buzz words such as artificial intelligence (AI) and robotic process automation (RPA) were front and center at this year’s event.
On the education side, HFMA’s learning pathway included numerous sessions exploring forward-thinking innovation strategies that leverage blockchain, AI, and machine learning to improve revenue cycle performance. On the vendor side, the theme of automation was especially prominent - anywhere you turned you would find posters or signs listing a vendor’s AI and RPA claim (much like stamping “organic” on a food package to price it higher) and how working with them was the key to success. While other vendors who have not even worked in healthcare promised to automate RCM – all of it. Result will likely be more errors and at a faster rate.
And even though everyone was talking about automation and the revenue cycle, few vendors or presenters could provide specific examples or results on how exactly automation enhances the revenue cycle. While it became abundantly clear that emerging automation technologies are leading the way of the future, the question still remains as to if this will help resolve the decades-long challenges associated with denials, improving cost to collect and the overall patient experience.
To enact meaningful change, healthcare organizations need to understand which revenue cycle areas/pain points automation can and should be applied to, and how to implement this technology in a way that will provide maximum benefits with the quickest turnaround.
For example, R1 RCM (R1) showed how its intelligent automation technologies are helping hospitals and health systems manage large volumes of manual-processing work in a time/cost-effective way, ensuring accuracy in complex business processes and decreasing the cost and time spent resolving errors. The financial impacts of this work are an increase in net patient revenue of up to five percent, a reduction in cost to collect of up to 15 percent and a 50 percent reduction in final denial write offs.
At HFMA, R1 also demonstrated how its Patient Experience platform provides a standardized patient experience across multiple care points and enables patients to manage their data in a single easy-to-use environment, from appointment to appointment through digital self-service. The platform includes a patient estimator which enables price transparency at the time of scheduling to help patients make more informed financial decisions, and the ability to create prior authorizations, easing the administrative burden for patients and providers.
This year’s HFMA Annual conference proved that while many can claim that they have automation expertise, few have put these theories into action and received any measurable results. To truly see the impacts of automation, providers need to find an RCM partner with great depth of experience in revenue cycle including the levers to improve key metrics scores and the capabilities to develop a fully conceptualized approach when it comes to automating the revenue cycle.
As you begin to explore the possibilities of automation and what it can bring, remember to look past the hype and chatter, and seek out an organization who will be a true partner, one who succeeds only when you do.