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3 Questions With Rev Cycle Execs on Front End Automation

Analysis  |  By Jasmyne Ray  
   January 15, 2024

Two executives discuss the use of automation and other rev tech solutions in the front end.

During HealthLeaders’ recent RevTech Exchange in Raleigh, North Carolina, we caught up with Anthony Cunningham, then newly appointed chief revenue officer for LCMC Health, and Jeanne Stokes, director of revenue cycle management for Ironwood Cancer and Research Centers.

We discussed the pros and cons of automation as a rev tech solution.

The following transcript has been edited for length and clarity.

HealthLeaders: What parts of your rev cycle process are automated?

Anthony Cunningham: I think the biggest thing we've been trying to automate, like many other folks, is the initiation of authorizations as well as the follow up; so the status of authorizations. A lot of folks struggle in that space. I think you can do a good job of revenue technology, maybe some of those straightforward authorizations, but when you get into surgeries and things like that, it requires people in my opinion, because of exactly what they're looking for.

Jeanne Stokes: We are constantly scrambling with eligibility on the front end, so retro terms are crippling for us.
If you don't have coverage, or you have new coverage and we didn't know about it, we now don't have an authorization. We do automate our eligibility, and the system presents us with the denials for coverage that people need.

We have self check-in kiosks and we thought that installing them would relieve some of the administrative burden. What we're now getting is apathy from our front desk staff because that was a big part of their job. Their job is to be the face of the practice and greet the patients, and now we've restricted them from coming around, helping people, and networking with the patients.

How can organizations help front desk staff maintain those relationships with patients?

Jeanne: The front desk has become the traffic guard, so we have to teach them how to engage. They’re losing that and they started losing it during the pandemic. I think we do need to find a way to redefine their roles and help them be ambassadors for the hospital, the practice.

Anthony: That front desk position is usually entry level with high turnover, yet it's very difficult to read those coverages. Then when you finally get somebody up to speed, they take another job.

Do you feel there’s a disconnect in the relationship between vendors, C-suite leaders, and those who perform the individual operations? How has this impacted the way you rev tech?

Anthony: I think the only way vendors are successful is if there’s truly a partnership with the organization and staff. A lot of the time, folks will look at a case study of what happened at one organization and they don’t know the amount of effort that went into making it happen. You assume you’re going to get the same benefit. There’s always a disconnect between what you think you’re going to receive and what’s delivered.

A vendor comes in and has their gloss presentation that shows you how everything is created, that you basically plug it in and it's going to work for you, but if it was that simple, everybody would have that solution. It’s that partnership that a lot of folks don't invest the time to make that vendor successful.

Jasmyne Ray is the revenue cycle editor at HealthLeaders. 


Automation can be helpful for tasks like authorizations, lessening the administrative burden for staff.

With more of the front-end being automated, it's important for front desk staff to maintain and nurture relationships with patients in their interactions.

The success of a vendor depends on the strength of the partnership between it and the organization.

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