New research suggests artificial intelligence will become a critical part of revenue cycle management systems hospitals use by 2023, at least if they can get all of the key stakeholders interested in such tools on board and can find room for them in their budget.
The survey, which was conducted by Change Healthcare, found that two-thirds of all respondents (65%) were already using AI technologies in RCM to some degree, and 89% of those in RCM-specific roles. In addition, Change found that nearly all of the others predict that they’ll begin using it within the next three years.
Respondents said that by 2023, 98% of healthcare leaders anticipate using AI in RCM, and 81% have conducted an evaluation examining which AI technology providers, solutions and software systems aimed at improving RCM processes. Benefits of AI in RCM cited by respondents include driving patient and payer payments (83%) and cash flow (80%).
As things stand, however, AI is rarely integrated with the entire end-to-end revenue cycle. Also, it will take a while for these systems to mature. Right now, just 12% of respondents consider their AI implementations to be mature today, with only 35% reporting that their implementations will be at the early mainstream level or fully mature by 2023. At such a pace, it could be quite some time before this mix of tools are fully mature and adopted.
Currently, the most common applications for use of AI in the revenue cycle include eligibility/benefits verification (72%) and patient payment estimation (64%). By 2023, respondents expect to see prior authorization (68%) and payment amount/timing estimation becoming leading applications.
Despite such widespread use, researchers found that the degree to which hospital executives are aware of and understand AI in RCM varies from role to role. For example, usage of AI in RCM is much higher among those working in revenue cycle roles (89%) than those in IT (63%) or non-technical executives (48%).
Given these differences in usage, it’s hardly surprising that those in RCM roles (78%) are most satisfied with their current use of AI, as compared with 46% of IT leaders and 25% of non-technical executive and financial respondents. Under these circumstances, it also makes sense that while 86% of those in RCM roles see value in using AI in RCM, just 52% of IT leaders and 44% of executive and financial decision-makers share this view.
Questions about the value of the technology aren’t the only obstacles to hospital adoption of AI in RCN, researchers found. Three quarters (76%) of non-technical executives said budgetary concerns were the key obstacle to full integration of AI in this context. Also, more than half (56%) of providers said they had liability, risk and privacy concerns related to adopting this technology. Other issues included staffing (50%), lack of trust in the information provided by these tools (45%) and infrastructure challenges (43%).