With each new year, revenue cycle management (RCM) grows increasingly challenging, prompting medical practices to look for more efficient methods that will optimize RCM processes. One such method has gained significant popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic—robotic process automation (RPA) solutions. RPA provides an alternative for the myriad medical practices that are burdened with heavy workloads and staff shortages. According to Terry Blessing III, senior vice president of client development at RCM solutions company VisiQuate, although RPA can provide relief in the RCM process, it is different than methods traditionally employed by medical practices. As such, it is imperative that practices secure an effective implementation strategy and take their time testing the waters before diving into RPA solutions. The same holds true for Intelligent Process Automation (IPA) implementation.
Blessing III suggests that using a phased-in approach to implementing RPA and IPA will result in the greatest financial returns, thereby affording medical practices with the chance to invest in more automation options in the future. This type of approach also helps practices more smoothly navigate the transition from traditional RCM to automated. According to Blessing III, one essential element to this transition is opting for a software firm that will match the IPA with the specific medical practice’s system. This will help to make sure that the new system doesn’t compromise the practice’s goals.
From a financial perspective, Blessing III touts how IPAs offer excellent opportunities to produce significant long-term returns from nominal initial investments. According to a McKinsey report, 50% to 70% of items automated yields a triple-digit return on investment. Blessing III also cites a KPMG study that found that up to 75% of costs can be eliminated by implementing RPA.
To reap the financial returns from RPA implementation, medical practices must have flexible existing RCM solutions that can easily adjust their unique system with a digital transformation. Blessing III stresses the importance of clear guidelines that specify which automations get implemented and at what point that will happen. When creating guidelines, practices must consider elements like specific departmental deficiencies and human capital allocations. What’s more, RPA implementation must include analytics capabilities, thereby allowing practices to ensure the accountability and assess the effectiveness of their RPA. If during the aforementioned process, a practice is disenchanted with its RPA strategy, the software should provide an easy, efficient way to make changes. With a simple click of a button, the software should provide flexible, relatively stress-free opportunities to change the software and optimize the RCM process.
When strategically implemented, RPAs and IPAs offer medical practices the opportunity to create a long-term RCM system that will ease financial and functional burdens.