Will Automation Eliminate Administrative Healthcare Jobs?

Nov 19, 2019 | Blog Article

According to a recent McKinsey study, an estimated 73 million jobs will be lost due to automation by the year 2030. And like many other modern technologies, these numbers result in plenty of questions and a healthy dose of fear. Will millions of jobs for hard-working individuals just be stripped away? 

But all too often, we only note the negatives of technology, letting fear get in the way of the opportunities that may lie in this encroaching technological and economic metamorphosis.

Perhaps we should be more clear. Automation isn’t going to displace humans. 

The jobs that are going to be lost with the onset of automation are jobs that are automatic by nature. They are monotonous, repetitive jobs that require mindless work incompatible with our creative and nurturing humanity.

What we’re looking at here is a rise of the automated enterprise. And with that, a rise of new and different jobs. 

It’s already well on its way within the healthcare sector. 

One of the primary ways an economy expands is by reallocating resources to the places where they are most productive. Shouldn’t healthcare organizations be run the same way?

Picture this. 

A new patient enters your physician’s office with a possibly broken foot. Your front office staff asks the new patient to fill out some paperwork, and after a brief wait, they are taken back to have an X-Ray. After the X-Ray, the physician determines that it would be best to have an MRI done at a local hospital. An order for the MRI needs to be sent to the hospital, so your staff gets to work on securing the prior authorization.

This is where the potential for automation comes in. 

If you have integrated authorization content, the task is simple. The MRI order is entered in a scheduling system where the program determines if an authorization is required and whether medical necessity is needed. Web bots then pull necessary clinical data directly into your organization’s EHR, create a medical review within your case management system, and send notification of the patient’s appropriate care determination back to the EHR. The staff working the authorization request just fills in clinical information not found by the bots.

But, if you are relying on manual processes for your authorization requests, the process becomes much more complex.

When manually requesting a single authorization, it takes almost 22 minutes to complete the process since it requires a staff member to visit a payer’s website and then copy and paste a significant amount of non-clinical and clinical patient data into various fields. If the payer information isn’t available via website, the staff member must then call the insurance company to complete the authorization form. 

Talk about a lot of steps and a lot of time wasted. 

In fact, with all these steps, it’s no secret why the prior authorization process alone (not to mention all the other processes your staff face every day) leaves a huge window for human error, a constant need for more employees, and significant outsourcing checks. 

According to the 2017 CAQH Index, the lack of automation for business transactions costs the healthcare industry more than $11 billion every year.

But hey, we’ll give credit where credit is due. 70% of hospitals have adopted revenue cycle management (RCM) technology. But the truth is… you could be doing more. There are still huge gaps in what technology has been able to address due to process or training gaps.

It’s time to start scaling resources.

The Wrap Up

Leveraging automation to do your traditionally manual work saves you time, increases productivity, and improves staff satisfaction. But it also ensures more patients are financially cleared pre-service, which means staff can focus on engaging and educating patients. 

Automating your manual processes and scaling resources doesn’t mean your staff will lose their jobs or job satisfaction. In fact, it means the opposite. Not only will staff be able to work where they excel, but they can also now focus on what made them want to work in the healthcare industry in the first place: helping others. 

Read this interview with Chief Product Officer Heather Kawamoto to learn more about ideas for reallocating your staff into more meaningful work.

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