COVID-19 has created a transformation imperative for healthcare providers. Visit volumes have dropped precipitously. Postponed preventive care visits have put value-based reimbursement at risk. And the shift to telehealth has increased competitive pressure by enabling patients to see any in-network doctor, not just ones close to where they live or work.
Recently, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella shared that he’s seen 2 years of digital transformation in response to COVID-19 over the past 2 months. To maintain solvency, healthcare providers must continue to make “years” worth of improvements over the coming months. Many leading health systems, such as Intermountain Healthcare and CommonSpirit Health, are turning to intelligent experience automation to grow patient revenue while reducing operating costs.
Based on learnings from our partnerships with these and other leading providers, here are three strategies that providers can turn to.
Increase telehealth patient volume
Virtual visits are here to stay. Even as clinics start to open, many patients, concerned with safety or motivated by the convenience of an at-home visit, will switch from providers that do not offer robust virtual visit support to those who do.
While most providers now offer basic telehealth services for their patients, few have been able to do so in an efficient, scalable manner. This is often due to the supporting workflows required to coordinate a virtual visit, including:
Triaging patients to virtual visits based on reported symptoms
Scheduling visits and sending appointment reminders
Configuring and sharing video conferencing links with patients
Verifying insurance eligibility
Collecting co-pays and balances
Many providers have either dedicated staff to managing these manual tasks. This can increase the cost of providing virtual visits, and also creates a staff “bottleneck” that limits the number of visits that can be accommodated by a practice.
For this reason, telehealth workflows provide an ideal application for intelligent experience automation. For example, providers can use AI-powered digital assistants to query scheduling records in the EHR to automatically text patients with appointment reminders, access to digital intake questionnaires, and video conference log-in links before their visit. Any information the patient shares through their digital intake ahead of the visit can likewise be populated back into the EHR, and used to create documentation for the provider to help them prep for the visit.
By automating this busywork, staff can be refocused towards tasks that directly improve the patient experience, like helping resolve technical difficulties resulting from video conferencing, or answering patient questions regarding their bills, appointments or prescriptions. By improving the patient experience in this way, providers can reduce patient churn, and attract new patients over time.
Improve provider capacity
To return to profitability, providers must increase the number of patients they are seeing, whether through in-person or virtual channels.
In addition to helping unblock staff bottlenecks, automation can help increase capacity for physicians to see more patients. Currently, the manual administrative work required to service patients, from intake, to clinical documentation, to billing, has created a capacity shortage and long waits, even for virtual care.
Health systems that have reduced their staffing or furloughed employees have been forced to do more with less. Focusing on increasing capacity can allow them to increase the number of patients in their community that they serve.
Austin Regional Clinic (ARC), a 25-site multi-specialty group in Texas, provides a compelling example of how intelligent automation can be used to increase capacity to see more patients. With Notable, clinicians use a voice-powered app for phone and Apple Watch to create notes and orders, which are populated into the EHR in real-time with AI-powered digital assistants. This saves 1-2 hours a day per provider on documentation.
According to their CMIO, Dr. Manish Naik:
"Notable Health’s unique platform brings together AI, wearable, and voice interface technologies that will allow us over time to better utilize our existing IT systems, reduce strain on our physicians, and improve the overall patient experience."
In addition to voice, ARC also deployed Notable to automate clinical documentation. This has reduced EHR time by more than 45%, enabling providers to spend more time with patients. Read the case study.
Optimize value-based care reimbursement
Flagging patient volumes risk compromise value-based revenue by increasing gaps in care. With long-term patient volumes uncertain, particularly given the unpredictable nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare providers must identify new ways to engage patients with preventive care services to receive value-based reimbursement.
As clinics closed their doors and preventive care visits were pushed back, many gaps in care of emerged. Closing these gaps in care has emerged as a key priority for health systems looking to optimize value-based reimbursement.
Intelligent automation can power a two-step approach to close gaps in care.
First, it can be used to determine which patients are likely to have care gaps. For example, a digital assistant could be used to scan all records in a providers EHR to identify patients on Medicare who have not had their annual wellness visit, or patients with diabetes who have not had a hemoglobin a1c test in the past 6 months.
From there, these digital assistants can automatically text or email these patients with an intake questionnaire to confirm the gap in care. In some cases, the patient may have received a preventive care service from a different provider, and by sharing this back with the provider, the gap in care can be closed immediately. Otherwise, the patient can be directed to book an appointment with their provider to close that gap in care.
Providers that have implemented such a solution with Notable have been able to immediately close 13% of open care gaps by simply identifying them upfront and confirming whether they existed with patients. From those with confirmed open care gaps, they have been able to generate an average of over 120 new visits per year.
This type of solution can also be implemented at the point of care. Using the same algorithm to identify open care gaps, orders can be automatically populated in the EHR for providers to sign off on, saving providers an average of 40 EHR clicks per day and driving a 15% increase in adherence to national quality metrics.
These three solutions represent just a few of the myriad possibilities that intelligent automation can unlock for providers who seek to redefine how they operate in the wake of COVID-19.