Healthcare loses billions due to over-reliance on manual tasks
We already know the trend toward automation in healthcare continues to grow each year. As technology continuously improves and the financial bar to entry lowers, the opportunities for healthcare providers and health plans to enhance operational processes grows as well. But even with the radical progress and the easier-to-use-than-ever healthcare operations software, many organizations fail to implement the solutions. It may be a lack of organizational enthusiasm or a simple need for more skilled internal technological expertise.
And while this is likely common knowledge at your organization, the amount of money wasted each year – driven by the absence of process automation – may not. Billions of dollars that could otherwise be spent on improving patient care and satisfaction, on building and rolling out new service lines and generally improving healthcare operations are wasted every year. Billions.
The most recent CAQH Index reports $372 billion is spent yearly on administrative tasks throughout the US healthcare system. Of that amount, $39 billion of those administrative transactions are specifically tracked by the CAQH Index. “Of the $39 billion, the industry can save $16.3 billion, or 42 percent of existing annual spend, by transitioning to fully electronic transactions,” according to CAQH.
$16 billion in savings
The current opportunity for savings driven by automated, electronic transactions within the healthcare industry is tremendous. That’s not to say the healthcare industry is doing nothing. CAQH found that healthcare organizations already save $122 billion annually thanks to process automation.
Even with the apparent success of automation, however, CAQH found the utilization, adoption and growth of fully-automated processes year-over-year were stagnant or modest at best:
- Eligibility and beneﬁt veriﬁcation remained steady at 84%
- Prior authorizations increased to 21% from 13%
- Claim status inquiry grew slightly to 72% from 70%
- Claim payment automation increased marginally to 71% to 70%
With the small and slow shift to the use of automated transaction processes in the healthcare industry, there’s a decided advantage–in time and money–to not automating many, if not all, backend operations. Doing so allows staff to focus on strategic initiatives, like building out new programs or service lines, rather than plodding through everyday tasks better tackled through repeatable processes supported by technology.
“The industry continues to make progress towards a more automated administrative workflow as transaction volume increases, new business needs and technology emerge, and health insurance benefit and payment models evolve,” CAQH explains in the report. Nevertheless, as mentioned earlier, the “progress” remains slow, like a river choked with debris.
Ironically, even as automated solutions become more abundant and easier to use, CAQH reports healthcare providers perform more manual tasks today than in the past. With today’s technology-rich environment, there’s little reason for healthcare providers to input any type of care-related documentation by hand. That time can and should be better spent improving the healthcare experience for patients and their families.
It’s far past time to clear the detritus from the river. With the advantage of today’s technology, it’s easier to make the change when each of us plays a part in the cleanup.