The Intake

Insights for those starting, managing, and growing independent healthcare practices

Embracing the future: How automation in healthcare transforms medical practice operations

Learn how you can improve efficiency and profitability with the help of medical practice management software.

automation in healthcare

At a Glance

  • Healthcare practices can automate an estimated 33% of tasks, freeing providers and staff to focus on higher-value work 
  • A unified tech stack that includes automation can support practice operations across multiple facets 
  • An investment in business intelligence software that seamlessly supports your practice’s operations is an investment in better practice management

Automation in healthcare has been a long time coming. Even though its potential is lesser compared to the other industries spearheading its adoption, you can still automate 33% of your tasks, according to McKinsey. And the institutions that benefit most from it are medical practices.

While growth is not top of mind for most healthcare providers, stress-free scalability is. Providers spend 15.5 hours per week on administrative tasks — taking time away from care delivery.

Every facet of a medical practice, whether patient scheduling or medical billing, has the potential to become a bottleneck. But with the right medical practice management system, you can prevent that from happening.

In this article, we’ll look into the operational issues that medical practice management software solves and how to choose the perfect one for your business.

How can a unified tech stack optimize your medical practice operations?

If you invest in a unified healthcare tech stack, you can automate several day-to-day tasks — saving time and costs down the line. Here are a few ways in which you can do that:

1. Streamline appointment scheduling and reduce no-show rates

A recent survey by Tebra found that patient cancellations and no-shows cost medical practices up to $7,500 per month. On the other hand, 59% of patients have reported canceling appointments in the last year.

You can avoid both these issues by using appointment scheduling software. There are many reasons why patients tend to cancel or don’t show up for appointments, such as they:

You can’t do anything when patients are preoccupied, but you can set up a system to remind them. For example, automated text and email reminders reduce the likelihood of forgotten appointments. 

Offering to reschedule appointments ensures patients get the care they need, and gives you the chance to fill empty slots. Along with that, adding information to scheduling confirmation emails about what to expect in their appointment can also reduce no-shows.

2. Simplify the patient intake process with automation in healthcare

The traditional patient intake process is fraught with inefficiencies. Paper forms and manual data entry are not uncommon. Manual intake takes hours for patients and providers, yet many providers continue to do it because they’re used to t.

In contrast, a digital intake process is highly efficient. Patients fill out the necessary forms in advance and send them digitally to their providers. The data is secured and consolidated automatically, making it easier to access it through different platforms and devices. It's also more accurate, minimizing human error.

Want to stop a patient from skipping their appointment? Our research uncovered the demand for innovative solutions that surpass simple reminders. Download this free eBook today to help your practice grow.

3. Enable interoperability using a modern EHR

Some electronic health records (EHRs) can’t talk to other systems, making it challenging to share data across providers and specialists and requiring manual work like faxes and phone calls.

Interoperable EHRs, on the other hand, can talk to other systems, making it possible for providers to access everything in one place. Ideally, everything from lab reports to prescriptions is available in the same system. This lets providers make informed decisions quickly. Ultimately, patients access care faster — improving the overall patient experience.

4. Reduce time and costs spent on administrative tasks 

Staff burnout is increasingly common. And when you add the burden of administrative tasks to the mix, it’s not surprising employees are quitting. In July 2023, the quit rate for the healthcare industry was 2.3%, meaning more than 500,000 healthcare workers quit that month.

Giving access to automation in healthcare tools that streamline your business’s front and back end can free up your employees. Instead of spending weeks on manual paperwork, they can focus on providing a better experience to patients.

For example, providers at Arjun Reyes MD Associates were completing notes after hours because of the amount of work involved. Switching to Tebra’s electronic notes, saved them at least an hour a day — giving them time to cater to patients rather than paperwork.

5. Automate the payment and insurance process with ease

Manual processes associated with billing and insurance claims are one of the most challenging aspects of running a practice. Delays, denials, and manual errors are common while processing payments, impacting cash flow. 

Over 50% of rejected claims never get reworked and submitted. That leads to a significant loss of revenue over time and an added burden to your patients. You need to invest in automated systems to reach a first pass acceptance rate (FPAR) of over 95% as it indicates that your practice’s revenue cycle management is efficient.

We’re already in the middle of a $1 trillion 5-year transition away from legacy models due to such reasons. When you use automated payment and insurance processing tools, you can simplify the billing process and reduce the risk of errors and denials while accelerating revenue collection. 

6. Improve communication between patients, providers, and staff

The patient journey begins with the search for a provider. Often the search is online, where getting found is competitive. Giving them the tools to understand what your practice does and convert quickly is essential.

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Discover how patients find providers, and what keeps them coming back, in Tebra's Patient Perspectives report.
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Stop waiting for them to call your practice, book an appointment manually, and have your administrative staff follow up. Instead, use a platform that automates the following processes:

  • Appointment booking
  • Appointment reminders
  • Patient intake through forms
  • Post-appointment feedback
  • Billing and insurance claims

When all these aspects are baked into a single platform, your staff doesn't spend time on things that software can handle. Patients can ask queries, confirm appointments or seek clarifications, providers can collaborate on patient care, and admin staff can keep everyone informed — all within a single, integrated environment.

7. Ensure patient data security and confidentiality using the same platform

As more healthcare practices are moving to digitized systems, it's important to ensure data security and confidentiality. In this case, the best way to do that is to use the least number of systems to run your operations. When you invest in integrated healthcare software, you can address all of this in one place.

From role-based access controls to multi-factor authentication, you can use this to safeguard against data breaches or unauthorized access. You’ll also comply with regulations like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

8. Access relevant revenue analytics to determine areas for improvement

A Tebra study found that 49% of providers collect their payments 30 days after they’ve met with the patient. That number increases when you add manual paper-based processes and delayed claims processes to the mix.

You need to monitor your cash flow along with other metrics such as:

  • Year-over-year performance
  • Claims tracking
  • Charges detail
  • Adjustments details
  • A/R aging by payer insurance
  • A/R aging by patient

These tools analyze the efficiency of your practice's revenue operations, allowing you to make informed financial decisions.

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9. Streamline reputation management through automated feedback surveys

Reputation is key in any business, and healthcare is no different. Ninety-eight percent of consumers occasionally use online reviews to evaluate local businesses. This means you need to have systems in place to collect feedback and appropriately respond when it's negative.

Automate the feedback collection, monitoring, and response process so that you can proactively manage your reputation. Send automated prompts to share their experiences and understand your patients' satisfaction with your practice. Some healthcare practice management software also offers the option to provide feedback privately, which lets patients offer honest and constructive feedback without hurting the practice's reputation.

How do you choose business intelligence software for your medical practice?

Here are several factors to prioritize while choosing the right business intelligence software:

Current needs

Every practice has different needs, so determine your key priorities before searching for a medical practice management solution. Conduct an operations audit and evaluate current areas of improvement in your practice. After that, identify your top priorities.

For example, your staff might be burdened with paperwork during the patient intake and billing. In addition, you might also be struggling with revenue cycle management and need something more robust than a spreadsheet. Seek a software that offers both these solutions.

This lets you focus on what you need, not what vendors tell you. It also helps you choose a system that can solve the real problems you're facing right now.

User friendliness

Your team will have to spend time learning any new system. Make it easier for them by choosing a practice management software with an easy-to-use interface. It reduces the learning curve and leads to faster product adoption.

For instance, Tebra customers say it takes up to 30 days to get completely up to speed, but proactive customers can see a much faster timeline.

Preferably, try the software before using it or get a demo from the vendor's sales team to see how it looks and works and visualize how it fits into your workflows.

Software integrations

Every software has unique capabilities, but you can extend them by choosing one with robust integrations. For example, Tebra integrates with over 60 EHRs that serve functions like:

  • Cardiology
  • Cancer
  • Family medicine
  • Neurology
  • Psychiatry

This means you don't have to worry about data transfer between different systems, as the integrations enable that. It prevents constant context switching between various applications, allowing for better operational efficiency, decision-making, and patient care.

Scalability

Your software needs to scale as your medical practice grows. Whether you have 25 patients in a day or 200, it should let you provide the same standard of care.

A cloud-based practice management software would be the better choice as it offers scalability without significantly increasing costs. It also removes any constraints that non-scalable legacy systems impose, letting you expand functionality without substantial changes to your practice.

Cost-effectiveness

While it might seem smart to choose a software with bloated features, it adds unnecessary costs. Instead, invest in a unified healthcare stack that fits your budget and scales with your needs. An on-premise system will only add to your bill as you'll have to consider the following:

  • Regular on-premise hosting costs
  • High setup fees
  • High maintenance costs
  • Additional costs due to downtime
  • Off-site backups and redundancy

On the contrary, a cloud-based solution is the best option, as you pay a monthly subscription for usage depending on your medical practice's size and patient inflow.

Security standards

Every year, the number of data breaches has increased. As more healthcare providers move to digital systems, the risk increases. Over 5,000 data breaches of 500 or more records have been reported between 2009 and 202, according to HIPAA Journal.

Even though healthcare organizations were used to paper-based systems, the introduction of Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH Act) propelled the switch to digital systems. The HITECH Act extended HIPAA’s purview to business associates of medical providers. 

This is why you must choose HIPAA-compliant software. It includes:

  • Measures for access controls
  • User authentication at login
  • Data encryption requirements
  • Data transit encryption
  • Information disclosure requirements
  • Audit trails for data movement
  • Guidelines for data usage
  • Regular security risk assessments
  • Procedures to report data breaches

HIPAA-compliant helps you protect patient and provider information while building trust. It also reduces the risk of costly fines and consequences for not being in compliance.

Training and support

Implementing practice management software can be complicated. Ask the vendor beforehand about the type of support it offers. It should provide access to resources like:

  • A customer success manager
  • Product tutorials
  • Training sessions
  • Technical documentation
  • Guides for technical and non-technical users

It improves your experience and gives you confidence in the product and support you’ll receive if you sign up. For instance, Tebra offers a success manager and live training sessions for providers and administrators. This accelerates the adoption of the product, letting you focus on improving patient care.

Invest in medical practice management software to boost efficiency

Optimizing your medical practice's operations relies on the solution you choose. Even though many options are available, you have to hone in on your needs and select the appropriate option for automation in healthcare for your business.

Focus on the features above and critically evaluate and trial the right software. Ultimately, choosing a business intelligence software that seamlessly blends with your practice's operations is an investment into better practice management.

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Learn how to create a seamless patient experience that increases loyalty and reduces churn, while providing personalized care that drives practice growth in Tebra’s free guide to optimizing your practice. 

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Tanaaz Khan, freelance healthcare writer

Tanaaz Khan is a freelance content writer and strategist for B2B SaaS brands in the health and digital transformation space, and specializes in creating evidence-based content. She had a short stint in the pharmaceutical R&D sector before pivoting to content marketing. She has always been close to the healthcare industry — either through her parents, who worked in the pharmaceutical and medical industries and owned a medical distribution company at one point, or through her academic interests and research. She is passionate about supporting patients as they make informed decisions about their care.

Reviewed by

Baran Erdik, physician and healthcare consultant

Dr. Baran Erdik, MD, MHPA is a physician with further specialization in internal medicine/cardiology. He has traveled the world, working as a physician in New Zealand, Germany, and Washington State. He’s been published numerous times and currently works in healthcare compliance and consulting.

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