AI has enormous potential to improve efficiency and decision-making in healthcare organizations, while also improving patient outcomes. It’s only a matter of time before its use becomes the industry standard. However, despite the technology’s rising popularity, some common concerns about AI persist – such as proving out more case examples and concretely measuring ROI, according to RevCycleIntelligence.

Part of the apparent resistance to AI comes from a lack of guidance about how to find the best solution for your organization. In this article, we provide a roadmap for evaluating an AI solution so you can build confidence about investing in the technology. Here are five steps to start, using medical coding and revenue cycle management as examples.

  1. Assess Your Organizational Readiness

Half the battle of a successful AI integration is ensuring your practice has laid the proper foundation. This involves a detailed evaluation of your organization’s existing processes, IT infrastructure, and capabilities. What does this look like in practice? Develop a complete understanding of your workflows and the requirements for an AI system to integrate successfully. Among other assessments, this comprehensive effort upfront will surface features and needs that enable a more targeted vendor search and a smoother implementation down the road. Also, consider your data management practices. How much data is available to help fine-tune an AI application, and how is it organized? Answering these kinds of questions will help you determine if your organization is ready to implement AI.

  1. Identify Inefficiencies in Your Operations

Once your practice appears ready for AI, the next step is pinpointing where the technology can make the most significant impact. Start by evaluating your daily operations. Do appointment bookings and patient visits flow smoothly, or do bottlenecks exist? Examine your billing cycle: perhaps coding inaccuracies lead to claim denials and revenue losses. Also, consider patient care. Are there delays in diagnosis or treatment due to administrative overload? Identifying your pain points not only clarifies where AI can streamline workflows but also reveals opportunities to elevate patient care.

  1. Set Measurable Goals

Having identified potential AI applications, it’s time to set clear, achievable goals. What does success look like for your practice? It might be cutting billing errors by half, enhancing patient satisfaction scores, or fully automating coding for 90% of encounters. Establish metrics that matter, both qualitative and quantitative. For instance, you can track the reduction in administrative tasks to see how it impacts staff workloads, and you can measure patient feedback pre- and post-AI integration. Setting these targets provides a roadmap for implementation and a clear benchmark for evaluating AI's impact.

  1. Research AI Vendors

Finding the best AI solution for your company starts with research. Begin by cataloging the specific challenges and goals you identified from points two and three above. Next, assess the available AI providers. Which options have a proven track record in healthcare? Aspects to consider include compatibility with your current systems, ease of integration, and the level of support offered by vendors. Lastly, don’t forget to evaluate whether the solution can meet your goals. For example, can it scale with your practice? This research phase ensures you select AI tools that not only resolve current issues but also propel your practice toward future goals.

  1. Trial an AI Solution and Vendor

Trialing a vendor before selecting an AI solution is highly recommended. The goal is to ensure the solution meets your practice’s needs and expectations. It’s not uncommon for vendors to make big claims. Any reputable vendors will welcome the audition and allow you to see their solution in action. What should you look for in this trial run? A good vendor who helps you seamlessly integrate the AI system into your daily workflows and provides both staff training and ongoing support. You should also evaluate ROI. Does the solution save time, reduce errors, and improve accuracy? You’ll find out in this test run.

The Future of Your Practice Starts Now

By embracing AI now, you're not just keeping up with the times, but giving your organization a competitive edge. Efficiency improves, growth prospects expand, and success becomes more achievable.

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Medical Economics | June 4, 2024