Automation is becoming the name of the game for revenue cycle workers at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida. After implementing Cerner Soarian Financials® in 2011, the health system began utilizing EMUE™ and health care extensibility platform (HEP) automation to save time and money, in turn helping support patients.
The two programs automate parts of revenue cycle workflows and can handle simple tasks — like insurance adjustments, adding charges or scheduling encounters — that would normally require human interaction.
EMUE, from health care automation company Databound, can also handle tasks like processing charge update information and routing lab and radiology orders to the correct clinic.
“EMUE works directly with Soarian Financials and does a good job of picking up the user interface aspect of Soarian Financials,” said Matt Eroh, revenue cycle systems analyst lead, Moffitt. “It can automate a good chunk of our back-office processes. EMUE can click on links, click on boxes, type text and navigate screens and collect data.”
HEP is another process that functions within Soarian Financials. While EMUE runs batches of scripts on tasks, HEP is a bit different in that it looks for issues that may arise in individual records, then decides the best response.
Moffitt staff continues implementing new EMUE and HEP automation tasks. Since first automating tasks with EMUE in February 2018 and HEP in May 2019, the two functionalities completed 7.4 million tasks through August 2020. If humans completed those tasks, it would have cost Moffitt $11.2 million1 in salary costs.
Using automation to complete tasks can also reduce the possibility of mistakes. “It’s no big secret that humans make errors after completing the same process over and over,” said Eroh. “EMUE doesn’t go off script, which helps maintain quality.”
The cost avoidance also helped Moffitt improve in other areas of the cancer system, including the care patients receive. Moffitt leveraged their savings to hire advanced practice professionals, who help handle some of providers’ administrative tasks.
“We took on that additional responsibility and gave our providers back more time,” said Joanna Weiss, vice president, finance, Moffitt. “We want to be able to use tools in the most efficient way, so our staff is used at the top of their level. It’s a win-win.”
Allowing HEP and EMUE to automate tasks also frees up staff and allows Moffitt to re-allocate employees.
“We created new positions and trained team members to do tasks that are more challenging,” said Darian Melendrez, supervisor, financial clearance unit, Moffitt. “We created positions like an insurance navigator to help our patients with insurance questions.”
“We’re able to contact patients and talk to them about their benefits, their outstanding co-insurance and their deductibles, so they have awareness before they come through the door,” said Weiss.
Moffitt leaders plan to continue expanding automation with HEP and EMUE, as well as other automation tools.
“I feel like we have only scratched the surface; there is a significant amount of automation still to be used,” Weiss said. “We’re looking to move beyond this and into machine learning that can learn from what humans do, then take that and mimic human behavior and actions.”
1Calculated by multiplying count of automated tasks by estimated time to complete manually to get an estimated time saved, then multiplying estimated time saved by an average hourly rate of $18.77 per hour.