At a Glance
- Robotic Process Automation (RPA) can significantly reduce the costs associated with medical billing by accelerating the process and minimizing human intervention
- RPA improves cash flow by ensuring faster payments; the automation can process vast amounts of data quickly, leading to quicker invoicing and payment reconciliation
- RPA can also help mitigate burnout among medical billing staff by taking over repetitive, labor-intensive tasks
As the owner or manager of a medical billing company, you know how the process is bloated with repetitive tasks that cause backlogs in claims processing. Late payments can negatively affect customer satisfaction and create a confusing patient experience. The difficulty of negotiating payments between the insurance company, provider, and patient often leads billers to believe that healthcare claims processing is complicated.
“It can’t be fixed,” many might say. But that’s not true.
As convoluted as medical billing may seem, especially for a new practice, an automated workflow can accelerate the process and reduce friction.
Robotic process automation (RPA) isn’t new. A 2020 Gartner study found that 50% of healthcare providers will invest in RPA by 2023.
But what is RPA, and how can it help?
This form of automation mimics human activities for repetitive tasks. For example, it can send payment reminders, combine various costs into a single invoice, and check insurance eligibility. According to one study, RPA takes only 12 seconds to analyze a health insurance claim, as opposed to human workers who take 85 seconds. And RPA is more accurate.
The best part for billers is that as RPA technology has developed over time, it has become more affordable and accessible.
To see how RPA can really make a difference for medical billers, here are the top 5 benefits of investing in automation technology.
1. Reduce expenses
The "Great Resignation" during the COVID-19 pandemic forced medical billing companies to hire more staff to address vacancies and boost salaries; since then, the expense of running a billing company has risen substantially. Expenses linked to manual processes include training new employees, hiring additional staff to address human error, documentation redundancies, and potential non-compliance fees. And that’s just the dollar costs — hours, if not days, are often lost on repetitive tasks.
Automation eliminates these expenses. Applying RPA rapidly accelerates the billing process. As a result, billing companies can employ a lean team to identify, analyze, and address claims that require manual intervention, while automation handles the rest without requiring a human touch, thereby slashing hiring costs. At the same time, RPA reduces redundancies and corrections, as well as improves compliance, thus lowering costs across the board.
“Even a small billing company can see hundreds of hours of effort avoided through the implementation of multiple RPA workflow streams. While RPA will not replace your staff, it can eliminate hours and hours of tedious work, freeing your team to tackle more complex analytical tasks or take on more clients,” Brian Cafferty, vice president of RPA development Tebra said.
“While RPA will not replace your staff, it can eliminate hours and hours of tedious work, freeing your team to tackle more complex analytical tasks or take on more clients. ”
2. Speed up payments
For your customers, getting payments quickly is vital to survival.
And this is another key feature of automation. Medical billing automation can boost cash flow through faster payments. Robotic automation can process data in minutes and hours rather than days and weeks, no matter the volume.
For billing companies, this can translate into accelerated invoicing and payment reconciliation, thus ensuring a healthy cash flow for both the healthcare provider and your organization.
But faster payment processing is also good for the patient experience. The less time it takes to process a health insurance claim, the easier it is for patients to budget. Waiting too long to process a payment can cause patients to forget about incoming costs, and they may even reallocate the money reserved for their past medical appointment for another purpose.
In other words, timely payments are better for everyone.
3. Boost retention
Manual medical billing workloads are exhausting and can lead to burnout, especially as a company grows and so does the number of invoices. Billers who must do everything by hand — even if digitally — may soon leave for a more manageable workload at another healthcare organization.
Automated processing takes care of the bulk of these burnout activities for your team. Rather than requiring staff to input data and meticulously review bank statements and insurance requirements, an RPA solution cuts through the noise and leaves only the exceptions or complex cases for your staff.
This improved workflow makes it easier to retain key employees, who no longer feel as overwhelmed and can focus on more interesting and mission-critical tasks.
4. Streamline compliance
In 2021, a study found that 68% of finance professionals attributed compliance breaches to manual data entry.
Even the best manual processes are prone to human error and compliance missteps. Medical billing automation largely reduces this risk since the workflow runs according to set rules with few human touchpoints. Invoices and payments that cannot be automated are flagged for review.
Furthermore, using the right platform can ensure that you are compliant with payment card industry data security standards, HIPAA, and other healthcare and payment regulations. A sound healthcare automation solution should provide bank-grade security to keep provider and patient records secure. In the best-case scenario, the RPA software will integrate directly into your customer’s electronic health record (EHR) system for an accelerated and secure medical billing process.
5. Track metrics
Due to the improved transparency and accurate data capture, it’s possible for medical billers to set and track key performance indicators (KPIs) for payments and operations. This transparent data capture process provides deeper and more accurate insights into the billing workflow, making it easier than ever to optimize your operations.
“By utilizing the rules engine capability of RPA, you can now not simply capture the data being passed over from the EHR, but rather act on that data doing critical items like data validation of ICD10 codes by current procedural terminology (CPT),” Cafferty said.
“By utilizing the rules engine capability of RPA, you can now not simply capture the data being passed over from the EHR, but rather act on that data. ”
How do high-growth medical billing companies operate?
Medical billing automation through RPA technology offers companies a chance to provide stellar customer service and improve cash flow without hiring more hands. But robotic process automation isn’t the end-all-be-all of high-growth solutions.
Learn more about how medical billing companies aim for growth in Tebra’s recent 2023 Benchmark Report: The State of the US Billing Industry.