The recent news about the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the Affordable Healthcare Act got me thinking. No, not about my own healthcare insurance, but instead the impact of adding tens of millions of more people into the healthcare system, and the amount of paperwork that it will create for healthcare organizations.
If you have been to the doctor recently, you know that the transition to electronic healthcare systems has not decreased the amount of paperwork you fill out. In fact, it sometimes seems like I fill out more paperwork today, but that could be because I am getting older. With the Affordable Healthcare Act set to add an estimated 30 million uninsured Americans into the healthcare system, the amount of paperwork being processed by hospitals, insurance providers, pharmacies, etc. will rise exponentially. Now, one of the most hotly debated pieces of the new healthcare system is cost. Processing paperwork can be very expensive. In most cases, you have to pay people to review the information, enter it into the system and then audit that it was entered accurately. This process is especially important in healthcare because mistakes can have very real consequences. As I said earlier, this got me thinking about the potential savings for the whole healthcare ecosystem if they were to automate data capture and recognition.
With data capture and document processing solutions, patient documents can be automatically converted into electronic formats and routed to an electronic health record system. For more complex documents like explanation of benefits (EOB), which can consist of hundreds of pages, automation can reduce the labor costs associated with EOB processing. I believe that by automating the data capture and recognition functions, the potential savings could reach the tens or even hundreds of millions when viewed at the industry level. This may not seem like a lot when we are looking at a $1.4 trillion tab over the next ten years; however, it is a single solution to a single problem. Imagine what the impact could be if we layered it with other process improvements.
The above are just a few benefits of implementing data capture and document processing technologies. Other long term benefits may include:
Improved patient care by allowing timely and secure access to medical records
Reduced employee workloads
Increased accuracy of records by eliminating error-prone manual data entry
Streamlined business processes and increased productivity
Do you see data capture and document processing technologies as being the answer to lowering costs in healthcare organizations? What other solutions do you think could be added to make the savings even greater?
Senior Vice President of Sales, ABBYY USA
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