Not Up On Robotic Process Automation for the Rev Cycle? Time to Pay Attention.

Kent Ritter, HealthLeaders

Expect robotic process automation — an IT process that uses robotic tools to automate repeatable processes — to get a big jump in attention and investments from revenue cycle executives in the coming years.

According to Guidehouse's annual RCM survey with the Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA), 15% of health system executives said they were targeting robotic process automation (RPA) to drive future revenue cycle management improvement.

That's a major change from just one year ago, when no health system executive cited RPA in the 2018 Guidehouse/HFMA survey.

"New technologies leveraging RPA, artificial intelligence, and machine learning have unlocked significant opportunities to reach previously unattainable levels of revenue cycle performance," Guidehouse director Kent Ritter said in a statement.

Revenue cycle automation has been a growing trend — from insurance verification, to outstanding claims follow-ups, to customer segmentation — but RPA takes it to the next level by mimicking the way humans work.

This year's survey of 108 hospital and health system chief financial officers and revenue cycle executives showed that 62% suggest EHR adoption challenges have been equal to or outweighed benefits specific to their organization's revenue cycle performance, up from 56% in 2018.

Fifty-six percent also say they can't keep up with EHR upgrades or underuse EHR functions, a finding that held steady from 2018, but was up from 51% in 2017.

Despite those challenges, 87% of executives suggest they're most focused on technology-related capabilities to drive future revenue cycle improvements, and 69% of executives predict their organization’s IT budgets will increase over the next year. That's up from 68% last year but below 74% in 2017.

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