4 Challenges to Bringing Intelligent Automation to the Healthcare Back Office

Posted by Dana Adams on Mar 29, 2018, 7:30:00 AM


Disruptive technologies get their name for a reason. They have the potential to fundamentally alter, upend, or blow apart traditional ways of doing things. But they’re not just disruptive for the sake of being disruptive; ultimately, they serve to improve the way we live and do business.

Think of it like detonating a crumbling old bridge so a newer, safer one can be built in its place. Standing in the way are approvals and permits, and probably some efforts to convince the public that the end result will be worth the growing pains.

The healthcare back office, and the revenue cycle in particular, is an area where a disruptive technology like Intelligent Automation will likely be met with some pushback. But it’s an area we have identified as ripe for automation, and there is huge value to be unlocked by doing so. Here are 5 hurdles you’ll need to overcome when bringing Intelligent Automation to your back office.


1. Convincing revenue cycle workers that Intelligent Automation won’t eat their jobs. We’ve talked before in this space about the value that Lia, the A.I. Assistant, brings to the revenue cycle workers who are in the trenches day in, day out. Many of them are overworked and overwhelmed, and they need a lifeline.

We created Lia not to replace revenue cycle workers, but to be an “A.I. teammate,” joining forces with your existing personnel to automate, accelerate, and re-prioritize prior authorization tasks.

But many of them might instantly recoil when they hear the term “automation” and assume it means their jobs will be stolen by some flashy new software.

This is where communication comes in. CFOs and revenue cycle leaders will need to speak truth to their employees, and that truth will need to be louder than the voice of fear whispering into their ears. The message needs to be: We hear you, we’re on your side, and we’re providing you with a tool to make your job easier.


2. Educating IT on the access and data needs. Healthcare IT teams often get a bad rap, mainly because the security and approval concerns they raise are often mistakenly seen as the logjam for operationalizing innovation. But they’re the ones doing the nitty-gritty integration and support work, and they’re responsible for ensuring new technology is HIPAA-compliant. Not to mention they’re sometimes the last people to know about a new technology that’s being brought into the hospital, hearing about it after the fact from a business leader in a planning meeting and then having to scramble to support the new project. (Hence the sometimes-bubbling tension between IT and other departments). 

With this in mind, the key to moving forward with an A.I. and automation investment is to involve IT in early discussions with your tech partner and ensure their questions get asked (and that your vendor understands the nuances and timetables of the IT approval cycle).

Fortunately, with an Intelligent Automation system like Lia, the need for heavy integration and/or the security threat to data is non-existent. All you need to supply is the same credentialing (username/password) that a non-digital employee would receive upon hiring. That covers the system access needs!

In terms of the data needs, Lia only requires a trailing history of certain key metrics related to procedure codes and payer details that can be anonymized so as to not present major PHI challenges.

Long story short, this should be an easy pill for IT to swallow. Deservedly, they just want to be in the loop. So loop them in!


3. Educating doctors and nurses on the qualitative benefits. One of our goals in bringing Lia to the back office is to reduce the physician burnout that results from stacks of paperwork and hours of wasted time every week.

We were shocked to learn that legacy prior authorization tasks can burn 20+ hours per week for physicians. We think that’s unacceptable, so we did something about it. 

"A Win for the Docs"

Healthcare providers are on the front lines of patient interactions, and ultimately, any innovations in the back office need to be geared toward improving the patient experience. That’s one of the qualitative effects of Lia. So communicating with doctors and nurses about the positive ripple effects of a technology like Lia will be a key part of an effective back office automation strategy.


4. Level-setting your own expectations. Intelligent Automation isn’t a silver bullet. It won’t solve every problem and inefficiency in the back office. Think of it as a tool that needs to be in your toolbox—one tool among many that will need to be used to meet the demands of the ever-changing healthcare sector.


Repeat After Me: Change Can Be Good

Disruptive technologies like A.I. and Intelligent Automation can be intimidating because they’re new and different, and new and different sometimes scares us. But these technologies are here, and they’re not going away. Healthcare organizations (and almost every other type of industry, for that matter) who want to stay competitive will need to 1) educate their people and 2) embrace measured, informed uses of these technologies.

 Don’t let these 5 challenges hold your organization back from implementing A.I. and Intelligent Automation in the back office. Not sure where to start? We’d love to help.


Want to chat? Contact us!

Dana Adams

Written by Dana Adams

Topics: AI, Intelligent automation, Artificial intelligence, Healthcare IT, Healthcare, Revenue cycle