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AI in the COVID-19 Era: New Ways to Look at Healthcare Financial Strategy

In the rush to contain and ultimately defend against COVID-19’s impact on healthcare financial information, leaders are rapidly developing artificial intelligence (AI) and analytics in healthcare, redefining both technologies and paving the way for the future of healthcare financial data and revenue cycles.

According to a recent article from Health IT Analytics, “In the months since COVID-19 has evolved from a blip on the world’s radar to a full-blown global health crisis, the virus has managed to shine a glaring light on some of healthcare’s most foundational cracks. For many organizations, this will mean implementing or enhancing artificial intelligence and data analytics in healthcare.”

Reasons to reexamine healthcare’s financial concerns

Kaiser Health News (KHN) reported that, “In some ways, COVID-19 seemed the biological equivalent of 9/11—unthinkable until it happened. Who would have thought individuals would fly jets filled with people into skyscrapers filled with workers? Likewise, who would have predicted the onslaught of a new virus that was stealthy, easily transmissible and often perilous?”

On top of its stealthiness, COVID-19 is also causing or exacerbating some major healthcare financial concerns, creating the need to reconsider its business strategies, Including:

  • Sudden shortages of expensive equipment—Pre-COVID-19, when hospital operated as businesses, hospitals had zero incentive to stockpile items like ventilators, testing kits and PPE (personal protective equipment) needed for the onslaught of coronavirus patients. Supply-chain management dictates that they stock for the far more profitable artificial-joint or heart procedures. That has changed dramatically!
  • Changes in philanthropy and revenue streams—Long ago, before hospitals had lucrative revenue streams from billing and insurance, they relied on philanthropy to meet urgent health needs. Today, hospitals instead solicit donations for more glamorous projects—cancer centers, new wings, genomics research — with donors’ names affixed. Old revenue streams no longer apply, as lack of supply and coordination along with increasing demand drove up prices for COVID-19 needs.
  • Revenue cycle performance falls short of goals—This means monitoring such items as net days in accounts receivable (AR), point-of-service (POS) cash collections, cost to collect, bad debt, and more.
  • Patient collections are lagging—High deductible health plans and rising healthcare costs continue to shift more financial responsibility to patients. Collecting payments from patients can be costlier, and more-time consuming, than obtaining payer reimbursement.
  • Gaps in mid-cycle processes cause issues across the revenue cycle—These gaps include: missing charges due to lack of physician education, system limitations, ineffective orders management an underperforming Clinical Documentation Improvement program due to insufficient training, and a lack of talented coders—an issue that can lead to inaccurate coding leads and multiple audits.
  • Revenue cycle staffing challenges—It’s increasingly difficult to find qualified AI-savvy candidates when needed. Tapping into AI requires personnel with new skills and competencies.

Changing your revenue cycle strategy

Revcycle intelligence says that, “Improving the revenue cycle, starts with artificial intelligence and automation.” Tapping into this technology can result in better cash flows, improved margin, increased patient satisfaction, cost savings, reduced risk and bad debt, and improved productivity. “When hospitals automate portions of the revenue cycle, they can execute a higher volume of claims at a cost-effective rate and regain their edge. And as the machine learning components of this automation learns, it unleashes meaningful insights to the organization and allows for ever-more opportunities for efficiencies.”

Five ways AI helps your revenue cycle

  1. With redundant tasks accounted for via automation, healthcare organizations can strategically reassign skilled workers to duties they've historically struggled to fill or to non-urgent but essential projects that have sat too long on the backburner.
  2. AI enables organizations to address workforce shortages. By automating portions of the revenue cycle, healthcare organizations can move loyal and committed staff members into positions that have been difficult to fill due to talent shortages.
  3. AI can help talent retention in more competitive markets, as hospitals can reward loyal employees with more consequential roles as they are no longer needed for tasks that can be completed with automation.
  4. AI enables healthcare organizations to be more strategic with the work they outsource. Hospitals can work the accounts likely to be paid in-house while outsourcing the others to a third party.
  5. Overall, automation can help reduce or eliminate the risk for error made by a person charged with typing day in and day out or copying information verbatim from an insurance card or EHR system.

To better utilize AI, consider outsourcing  to Blue Eagle Consulting

Perhaps you currently do not have the financial team on-board to meet your post-COVID-19 needs. The simple solution to better utilizing AI is outsourcing for specific healthcare financial expertise, data analysis and technology is to tap into outside consultants like those from Blue Eagle Consulting (BEC) to help:

  • Identify and understand useful types of intelligent automation
  • Educate staff on machine learning potential
  • Help limit COVID-19 fallout in revenue cycle
  • Assist your organization in staying financially healthy
  • Automate certain data-driven tasks
  • Eliminate waste
  • Report trends
  • Detect fraud and abuse
  • Avoid credit risk
  • Replace manual tasks with automated procedures

You can turn to BEC consultants to educate healthcare staff on the myriad uses for AI and deliver valuable knowledge and expertise on how to make the resulting data easy to understand. Plus, consultants can step up and help you meet temporary or ongoing staffing needs.

Blue Eagle Consulting training/consulting experts can help you better understand AI and how it can help your organization design AI solutions that fit your needs in the aftermath of COVID-19. Simply call us at 1 (866) 981-1095 or email info@blueeagle-consulting.com.

 

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