Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is a phrase that is slowly working its way into the vernacular of healthcare revenue cycle management (RCM) companies. There is certainly a need for the technology, but until now it has been underutilized due to the lack of proper innovation and digital integration. The perception of robotic process automation and how RCM employees will adapt to this growing digital environment has also hindered the implementation of this technology.
Rest assured, RPA is not nefarious or conspiratorial by any stretch of the imagination. RPA is a technology that allows a digital “robot” to emulate the actions of a human employee in order to execute a business process. RPA can utilize the user interface to capture data and manage applications just like their human counterparts. In other words, the RPA could move files and folders, fill in forms, extract structured data from documents, and do much more. RPA is an excellent candidate for high-volume, repeatable processes that can be automated and significantly reduce human error.
Less than 15% of RCM companies are currently utilizing robotic process automation and struggle with implementing this technology to create a solid framework that allows these complex automations. StrataPT continues to strengthen the RPA technology that supports their RCM services. Their highly developed RPA has played a key role in maximizing the operational efficiency and payment outcomes for all of the outpatient therapy providers they serve.
StrataPT’s RPA technology has proven to be reliable and scalable. By automating repetitive, high-volume, rule-based processes, they are able to significantly reduce payment cycle times, identify payer trends, reduce errors and improve efficiency throughout all of their US-based operations. “So many RCM and technology companies in our industry have shifted to outsourcing their customer and RCM support staff in an effort to cut costs. We refuse to follow that trend because of how damaging this model can be to both the operational and financial health of our customers’ businesses,” said Adam Peacock, StrataPT’s co-owner and COO. “Instead, our focus continues to center around deploying our proprietary RPA technology throughout many of our core revenue cycle management processes and workflows. Focusing on this type of technology innovation instead of outsourcing our services certainly isn’t the easiest path, but we do believe that it provides the greatest value for our customers’ businesses”.
Robotic process automation has been instrumental to StrataPT’s success in the areas of accounts receivable follow-up, denial and appeal management, claim management, modifier and payer rule management, patient statement management and payment processing. There is still a heavy reliance on manual data entry and report driven accounts receivable (AR) processes in the medical billing industry which leaves a lot of room for human error and inefficiencies in the AR follow up process. “Simply put, our goal is always to get our providers paid in full as quickly as possible. Having RPA technology at the core of our accounts receivable process has provided our team with a very robust set of tools to achieve the best results for our customers”, added Peacock.
In addition, StrataPT has also developed a very sophisticated fleet of audit “bots” which are designed to identify payer processing and provider reimbursement discrepancies. This has also been a growing concern by therapy providers in the ever changing insurance landscape. “This very robust technology allows us to address this concern by identifying when a payer underpaid a claim based on the provider’s contract,” added Peacock. “The bots are also used to run our quality control measures and help our team determine any additional areas where we can bring greater efficiency to our internal workflow so that we can continue providing our customers with the best technology and RCM services available.”
StrataPT is also able to use its RPA technology to bridge the gap between their RCM platform and their providers’ electronic medical records (StrataEMR). When it is discovered during the claim generation process that a payer requires clinical documentation to be submitted with the claim, StrataPT has developed bots that automatically retrieve the clinical documentation required from StrataEMR and attach it to the claim. This automated process significantly speeds up processing times and reduces human errors by ensuring that the correct clinical record is submitted to the payer. In some cases, the RPA efficiency can be up to 20 times faster.
Perhaps the greatest benefit StrataPT’s RPA technology provides to their providers is that it allows StrataPT’s team to focus on higher level items rather than tedious tasks. “We have always been known for our outstanding customer service and support,” said Peacock. “While many RCM companies are resisting the transition to RPA technology, our team has embraced it because it allows them to spend more of their time focusing on collecting every penny owed and interacting directly with our clients. It is a win-win situation for everyone.”
“Over the years, we’ve spent an enormous amount of time educating and training our staff on RPA technology. Rather than fearing the unknown, they’ve fully embraced it. They understand that this process won’t take their jobs, but it will allow them to be better at their work. At the end of the day, our RPA technology allows everyone to work smarter, faster, and more streamlined, so our clients become more successful. At StrataPT, that’s been one of our main goals from day one and it continues to be one of our main goals today.”
There is no doubt that physical and occupational therapy practice owners will need to continue leveraging technology in the years to come and there is tremendous opportunity for the implementation of robotic process automation to help practices enhance both their administrative and clinical workflows. “We know 2021 is going to be an exciting year as we release a new platform to support mobile therapists and continue expanding our RPA technology in areas that will bring our customers even greater operational efficiency”, added Peacock.