As rev cycle teams are asked to do more with less, they turn to purpose-built automation

Labor shortages. Shrinking margins. Shifting patient expectations — these challenges are a constant reality for healthcare providers today.

For many healthcare leaders, staffing shortages rank as their biggest operational challenge. That puts them in the difficult position of asking current staff to do more with less, all while trying to keep that staff happy. At the same time, patients are becoming increasingly concerned about healthcare costs. More than 40% of patients have skipped or plan to skip needed medical care due to financial strain, and that number is only growing. 

"More than half of patients in the United States are more stressed about the healthcare billing process than the quality of care they receive,” said Ric Sinclair, chief commercial officer at Waystar, on a recent Becker's Healthcare podcast. “That is unacceptable. How can we accept a system where our friends, family, and loved ones spend more time worrying about paying their bills than getting healthcare? It's become a personal mission for me and my team members to change that.”

Sinclair went on to talk with Becker’s about how, exactly, automation can help — especially when combined with more efficient operational strategies.

"The truth is that what worked in prior decades will no longer be the formula for success,” Sinclair said. “The good news is that we've reached the tipping point where ideas to improve healthcare payments have converged with technology's capabilities. The providers who work with Waystar have been tackling these issues head-on for years and seeing dramatic results. That makes me very optimistic.”

Automating routine tasks drives meaningful rev cycle results

Many hospitals and health systems recognize that they must embrace automation to remain competitive. In Waystar's experience, the revenue cycle leaders who have the most success leading while navigating today’s challenges are the ones who focus on improving efficiencies and experiences — for staff and for patients.

By connecting disparate processes and insights, prioritizing high-value initiatives, and automating as many manual tasks as possible, providers can simplify payments and see better results. That’s evident across a lot of Waystar clients. 

By automating revenue cycle processes:

  • Atrium Health decreased 80% of the accounts that once needed manual intervention. 
  • Cincinnati Children's Hospital redeployed 50% of its rev cycle spend to higher value initiatives that impact patients. 
  • Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford cut 70% of its back-office paper processes, so team members can spend more time where it matters. 
  • Piedmont Healthcare increased point-of-service patient collections by more than 30% while boosting patient satisfaction.

"Deploying technology in the revenue cycle enables organizations to invest in things like quality patient interactions and true partnerships with vendors,” said Sinclair. “The best leaders and organizations do this exceptionally well.”

Purpose-built automation delivers greater value than general automation

When it comes to automation, context matters. 

"Nearly half of the health systems in this country are evaluating what automation will look like for them,” Sinclair explained, “but to address their challenges effectively, providers need to understand the nuances.”

That’s where the difference in general and purpose-built automation comes in. General automation may be effective at repeating a task, such as requesting data from an insurance company's online portal. However, that type of automation lacks intelligence and flexibility. As a result, manual interventions may be needed to yield results.

"If general automation is poorly applied, organizations often end up automating tasks that never should have occurred in the first place," Sinclair said.

Purpose-built automation, on the other hand, is designed for a specific organization, to meet specific goals. It not only performs a task, but it also creates dynamic, data-centric workflows and delivers actionable insights to staff. And that drives better outcomes and decision-making. 

For example, statusing a claim manually can take more than 20 minutes, and most claims require multiple status checks. When you apply purpose-built automation to that process — replacing manual tasks, yes, but also intelligently driving workflow — the results are dramatic. 

“Organizations that use purpose-built automation can see tens of millions of dollars in return on investment,” said Sinclair. “Those resources can then be redeployed so providers are paid faster and at a lower cost. And the savings can be spent caring for patients and supporting team members.”

A streamlined healthcare experience benefits both providers and patients

The bottom line is this: Patients don't want to be treated simply as consumers. They want to be treated with care — both clinically and financially. 

At the same time, providers want to meet patients where they are to deliver the best clinical care. The best way to do that? Spend less time on manual and administrative tasks and more time with patients. 

“With Waystar, organizations can truly outsmart staffing shortages challenges and complexities associated with getting paid,” Sinclair said. “We already do this, at scale, for more than 1M healthcare providers across the country. And that means those providers can spend more time delivering great care and investing in their teams and communities.”

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