Automation is helping hospital doors stay open

Photo by Marcelo Leal

Say what you want about America's healthcare system, it's hard to argue that there isn't significant room for improvement. There is critical consensus around its many issues, from wealthy insurance companies to uninsured ethnic groups missing out on vital treatment. It has been a fine balancing act for many an administration, yet automation technology appears to offer a solution that may help to ease the process of treating patients while making enough revenue to keep hospital doors open.

Of the many demands Covid-19 has made on the US healthcare system, managing supply and demand for personal protective equipment (PPE) has been near the top. Add to this the weight of Covid-19 on hospital staffing, ancillary support and a steadily decreasing number of available beds, and you have a logistical nightmare on your hands. How do you counter this pressure? And how do you do so by ensuring you're making enough revenue to be able to operate as a vital healthcare organisation?

RPA and revenue cycle management

In Chicago, healthcare consultancy Jorie Healthcare Partners recently added RPA services, underpinned by AI, to help its clients with revenue cycle management. This is the admin part of running a hospital or small practice and usually includes tasks such as claims processing, payments and revenue generation. There's a lot of paperwork for a lot of patients! And it's this process that bears the weight that decides whether the hospital or practice can remain open to patients. For those like me who enjoyed years of watching ER, you'll know exactly what this means!

The cycle begins when the patient seeks medical services and ends when claims and payments have been settled. It's one of those familiar scenarios for those of us who work diligently in automation, with RPA used to streamline processes just like this. For healthcare in America (and around the world), RPA could be the difference between beating Covid-19 reasonably quickly or letting it extend its miserable legacy.

Positive outcomes

With a smooth logistical process – from patient registration through claims submission for specific treatments, reimbursement and beyond – hospitals have to make money to stay open. Healthcare revenue cycle management ensures this, but it has to be robust. This is where the Jorie case study is interesting to observe.

By implementing RPA into its services, it has influenced positive outcomes for its clients despite the impact of Covid-19. Its own workforce adapted quickly to remote working thanks to "RPA-powered revenue cycle management", and productivity actually increased. Add six new clients onboarded over 2020 and you can see that Jorie's use of RPA has reaped dividends.

While American healthcare may not always be a palatable narrative, common-sense use of automation technology is nice to see. If RPA is helping to directly and indirectly free up doctors and nurses so they can treat more patients, it's hard not to be positive.

Those organisations at the end of the billing and insurance chain will always make more money than they could possibly need. It's nice to see RPA being used to make sure the actual hospitals and small practices stay open and functional long enough to manage the pandemic and the surrounding demands.

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