Manual Processes Are Holding You Back – Here’s What to Do Instead

You have big plans to grow your healthcare payer business. Before you start planning your future, take stock of your present operations. If the fundamental ways your organization gets work done are less than optimized, meeting those goals – and the demands that come with a larger book of business – will be hard, if not impossible.  

One area that will negatively impact your ability to scale? Manual processes.  

How manual processes hold you back  

Departments are short-staffed. Employee to-do lists are long. Your people are busy. Burying staff in time-consuming and tedious manual tasks hurts your bottom line and impedes your ability to grow, but it also affects employee morale.  

Here are a few ways that manual processes get in the way of growth:  

Manual processes slow you down. With packages that arrive on our doorsteps in a couple of days, or even a matter of hours, consumers’ expectations around customer experience have changed. These new service levels impact all businesses in that it’s changed what your customers expect from you. More than two-thirds of companies now compete primarily on experience, up from just over a third in 2010. Transitioning from manual to automated processes mean faster fulfillment, which is a strong competitive advantage in today’s market.  

Manual processes open you up to more errors. While human error happens, your organization is more prone to it when you have manual processes in place. Research has found that errors are also expensive. Inaccurate business data causes companies to lose around $600 billion annually. Additionally, errors increase your risk of compliance violations and their fines.  

Manual processes impede growth. Growing your business is harder when manual processes weigh down your organization. A common solution to address volume may be hiring more staff, but it’s not a viable long-term strategy – and it may not even be a feasible short-term strategy during the ongoing talent shortage.  Even if you are able to source additional resources, the cost of training, and inevitable turnover, is expensive.  

Manual processes require staff and today’s labor market is tight. Forty-four percent of employees are currently “job seekers,” according to a recent survey. If you’re trying to scale processes manually, you actually have two problems: The first is finding the people. The second, while less obvious, is retaining them, as well as your current employees. When you factor in these pressures, it’s easy to see how depending on manual processing impedes your organization’s ability to scale or even consistently manage fluctuating volume without even taking the increased risk of human error into consideration. 

Fortunately, organizations can break free from manual processes to improve their bottom line now while setting themselves up for future growth.  

Benefits of automating processes 

As a healthcare payer, you know that work volume is unpredictable. Sometimes it’s high, other times it’s low. You need the ability to accommodate those ebbs and flows more efficiently. And when you’re using manual processes to get the work done, adapting to these shifts isn’t easy.  

Built to handle rises and falls in work volume, automated solutions allow organizations to quickly scale to match demand – and do not require you to find additional staff resources.  

If you are considering moving from manual to automated processing, the timing is right. According to a report published by McKinsey and Company, one of the things that organizations need most to survive a pandemic is agility:  

“To survive and thrive in this more volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous world, leading companies are reaping significant benefits by embracing agility at scale.”  

What to look for in new technology  

Not sure where to start? Here are a few pointers to consider when looking for automation that helps you scale 

Inventory your processes. You might have a process that takes 50 minutes to complete manually but would only take 10 minutes with automation. Identify these time-intensive tasks throughout your organization and ask technology providers how automation helps with each one.  

Rethink automation for “exceptions.” A good technology solution can automate 80% or even 90% of manual processes. But make sure you don’t fall into the trap of automating the wrong things. For example, some payers make the mistake of asking a vendor to help with automating exceptions. However, this is exactly the type of task that shouldn’t lean on automation. Instead, this is where you should use the expertise of your knowledge workers.  

Consider technology integrations. Legacy solutions may also hold you back, which is another reason it’s important to rethink technology. But when making the shift from manual to automated processing, ensure the new technology easily integrates with the other applications in your tech stack so you can avoid introducing cumbersome workarounds.  

Put upfront costs in context. Understanding the true cost of technology involves looking at the savings and growth potential. For example, if a new technology will cost you $100,000 in year one to implement but gives you 25% growth each year thereafter, that investment is well worth it. Not sure how to calculate ROI? Check out this tool.  

Emphasize training and support. With any new technology, you might have employee resistance. Getting past that resistance and effectively managing change requires a technology partner with really good support who offers great training for your people. This helps encourage employees to work with you instead of against you during adoption.  

Positioning yourself for growth  

Not only does automation help make it much easier for healthcare payer organizations to scale, but this technology delivers many immediate benefits. Take a look at your existing processes. See where you can spot opportunities for improvement. The elevated service levels that result from increasing both speed and accuracy while reducing compliance risks will provide a solid foundation for your organization’s future growth and a significant competitive advantage today.