The business world seems to be moving in the direction of business process automation, yet in the healthcare industry only about 20% of provider organizations are widely engaging in hospital financial automation, according to a new Black Book CFO survey.
Automation can result in immediate cost savings, the elimination of duplicated tasks, and improved visibility. For the healthcare industry in particular, the automation of business processes can result in improved compliance, elimination of errors in workflow processes, enhanced vendor management, and better billing practices, to name a few.</p>
<p>So why are so few hospitals adopting automation for their back-office processes? I believe it’s because they have seen that automation technology doesn’t always save money as it claims. I have learned that when automation is employed without critical thinking around cost and workflow efficiency, the result is automation that will only produce unwanted outcomes—faster.
Consider the actual cost.
I don’t want to come across as overly negative toward technology—I love technology! My doctoral studies examined impact of computerization on business administration in healthcare industry. However, through the course of my research, I learned that despite promises to the contrary, technology doesn’t always save you money. In many cases, the difference in cost savings between companies that had completely automated their business functions and those that didn’t use automation at all was negligible.
As I said before, all technology has a cost beyond the sticker price. Account for all the costs of automation to measure the impact to the bottom line. Things like training, data storage, equipment, and fees to make ongoing changes to the technology as your company’s needs evolve should be considered in addition to the named price of the technology.
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Author: Pam Gallagher

Pamela J. Gallagher is a change agent who deploys the right processes, people, and technology to optimize financial performance for health care operations. With a 20+ year successful record of instilling financial discipline, streamlining processes to maximize revenue, and reduce expense for immediate improvements and long-term results, Pamela knows how to balance the reality of finance with the delivery of excellent patient care. She is a decisive leader who works with people to blend art-of-the-possible and get-the-job-done mentality to produce sustainable change in fast-paced, time-sensitive environments.