Sarah Hartwig, affected person entry officer at Avera Well being, discusses how the group is bettering reimbursement and advancing the affected person expertise by way of automation.
The complexity of medical reimbursement not solely creates a poor affected person monetary expertise, however it additionally drives up hidden prices for organizations.
Automating sure processes throughout the income cycle can defend sufferers from shock medical payments and permit workers to spend extra time on significant work to enhance the affected person monetary expertise, however it’s not a one-size-fits-all endeavor.
Avera Well being, an built-in well being system based mostly in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, serves sufferers by way of 37 hospitals, 215 major and specialty care clinics, 40 senior dwelling amenities, sports activities and wellness amenities, and extra. With a purpose to enhance its income cycle processes throughout its complicated system and create a optimistic affected person monetary expertise, Avera Well being realized automation was key.
The affected person entry officer at Avera Well being, Sarah Hartwig MBA, MSHS, focuses on front-end income cycle operations and lately shared with HealthLeaders her expertise in serving to to implement automation options on this space of the income cycle.
HealthLeaders: Why has automation been important to your organizations’ income cycle?
Hartwig: I believe everyone knows that medical reimbursement is complicated. After I began out in healthcare, we’d discuss what a dynamic surroundings it’s, and that was 20 years in the past. And right here we are actually—much more dynamic and extra complicated.
Due to the complexity—from authorities laws to payer expectations—it actually makes automation much more necessary and integral to the holistic view of our methods and income cycle. Automation additionally helps us higher leverage our human sources. If we will offload these redundant and elementary duties, it really helps make these human efforts extra significant.
We have observed the necessity to unify that method within the center and back-end workflows, too. And that automation continuum permits us to have that perspective.
HL: What are key components organizations ought to contemplate in deciding on and implementing expertise options for the income cycle?
Hartwig: For us, it has been about sustaining a deal with the affected person. Throughout the pandemic, we needed to rapidly change and shift to undertake new methods and new methods of doing our work.
However, as we take extra of a long-term focus, it truly is about sustaining that target the affected person whereas contemplating the wants of a number of stakeholders.
One other issue is interoperability. There are such a lot of potential options on the market. What we have discovered is that you’ll want to deal with the core answer in your income cycle, construct off of that, after which put the deal with interoperability in order that it really works within the day-to-day. Creating that interoperability will solely higher reimbursement and the affected person expertise.
One other consideration for us, once more, is evaluating the long-term automation objectives.
We really feel fairly reactive after coping with a whole lot of the adjustments previously couple of years. It looks like we have needed to rapidly change and transfer. Now that we will breathe a little bit extra, we will take a step again and actually have a look at our long-term objectives for these options, all whereas conserving the affected person on the middle.
Certainly one of our long-term objectives is sustaining transparency. So, anytime we’re deciding on a instrument for automation, we like to contemplate what info the affected person, care workforce, and people supporting the backend course of will all see by way of this instrument. That is necessary to us as a result of we need to ensure there is a degree of transparency for everybody.
Additionally, any automation instrument that we’re on the lookout for, for instance if we’re actually leveraging the affected person to self-serve, our workforce wants to contemplate constructing high quality components in order that it would not take any sort of rework from our income cycle workers.
And lastly, I will simply point out the seller choice course of. For us it’s extra about constructing partnerships. I am constructing relationships and dealing extra holistically with these partnerships that may take us to and thru the long-term options that we’re on the lookout for.
HL: What are a number of the broader developments which have pushed adoptions of automation options?
Hartwig: We all know hospital prices are rising and reimbursement isn’t essentially bettering, so our margins are thinning. That’s why it’s so necessary that adoption of expertise actually leverages and positively impacts our prices for operation.
For us, we proceed to shift the main target from back-end workflows and attempt to alleviate and forestall a few of these time-consuming duties (like collections) by using the entrance finish of the income cycle. Automation within the entrance finish is way more of a spotlight for us as it will probably forestall these errors that might burden the back-end workers.
We’re additionally working to establish potential prior authorization and medical necessity denials early on with the intention to ensure these prevention components are put in place. That has additionally led to extra conversations and extra inclusion of our care groups. I am working to automate all of these monetary clearance processes upfront in order that we’re participating with sufferers instantly, in order that they know their out-of-pocket prices and what to anticipate shifting ahead. All of those components will create a optimistic affected person expertise and have a optimistic influence on our backside line.
Amanda Norris is the Income Cycle Editor for HealthLeaders.