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Health Systems Need Help Managing Revenue Cycle Automation

February 23, 2021
Samara Rosenfeld

Automation technologies for healthcare revenue cycle operations may be unnecessarily complex to deploy.

Approximately 30% of health systems and hospitals are unable to manage their revenue cycle automation efforts without at least two vendors, according to the findings of a recent survey by Alpha Health.

What’s more, 30% of health systems and hospitals, of which, more than 76% were large organizations with $1 billion or more in net patient revenues, built internal automation teams.

The survey, conducted through the Healthcare Financial Management Association’s Pulse Survey Program, was taken between May 19 and June 22, 2020 by 587 chief financial officers and revenue cycle leaders at health systems across the U.S.

The process of automating revenue cycle tasks typically includes observing and documenting workflows, programming the technology to perform the work as documented, and maintaining the solution as inputs and variables in specific processes change. Business process consultants generally handle the first step and work with a technology vendor to manage the second and third steps. Because maintenance can require internal revenue cycle staff to coordinate with business process consultants and technology vendors, many large health systems invest in their own automation teams.

“Many automation technologies, such as robotic process automation, were originally developed for other industries and purposes. Trying to retrofit these solutions to healthcare revenue cycle operations can result in unnecessarily complex deployment processes. This also requires significant investments in maintenance resources, whether those be multiple vendors or entirely new internal automation teams,” Ben Beadle-Ryby, co-founder and vice president of operations at Alpha Health, said in a statement.

When survey respondents were asked which best described how many outside consulting firms and vendors they used to automate revenue cycle operations, 38.5% said they used one vendor who could do all three automation steps of the process. Just more than 30% (31.5%) said they did not use external consultants or vendors and instead had an internal team dedicated to automation who handled all steps of the automation process. Less than 20% (19.6%) used two vendors but had one vendor who handled multiple parts of the process.

The survey also revealed larger organizations were more likely to use more vendors than smaller organizations.

Revenue cycle automation is looked at to save time, speed up claims processes, decrease denials, and collect payment faster.