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Tech-Enabled and Paper Free: Bringing Healthcare Purchasing into the 21st Century

Antiquated. Inefficient. Low-tech. Not the words that come to mind when we think of the U.S. healthcare industry; yet, zero in on the supply chain invoicing and payables processes across the industry, and those same words become accurate descriptors.

According to PINC AI™ opens in a new tab data (as of February 2021):

  • As many as 70 percent of all invoices in healthcare are paper based.
  • Nearly 85 percent of all healthcare purchasing is still done manually via paper checks.
  • Between $4-6 billion in erroneous payments is tied to invoicing errors for current contracts with accurate price activations.
  • Nearly $40 billion in waste and inefficiencies is tied to invoicing alone.
  • An invoice that has an error often leads to an average delay of 64 days in closing the order and getting the supplier paid.

Clearly, healthcare accounts payable (AP) and accounts receivable (AR) are ripe for modernization. Both suppliers and providers stand to benefit greatly from improvements that can be made by embracing digitization and going paperless – and through Remitra™, Premier is leading the way.

Not Your Father’s AP and AR Process – The Remitra Difference

Data empowered. Cloud based. Enterprise resource planning (ERP) and group purchasing organization (GPO) agnostic. Built for healthcare. With Remitra, we’re tech-enabling the dated AP and AR processes still used by far too many suppliers and providers, bringing this critical aspect of healthcare operations into the modern age.

Remitra is revolutionizing the entire procure-to-pay process. By creating a digitized end-to-end workflow, the tech reduces overall cost and creates efficiencies on both sides of the healthcare supply chain.

infographic showing Premier's Data Continuity Capabilities exceding current standards from contracting through payment Using Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology, Remitra can take a provider’s purchase order in any format (e.g., mail, fax, email) and turn it into an electronic data interchange (EDI) order for delivery directly to the supplier’s integrated systems. Similarly, OCR technology can digitize a supplier’s paper, fax or PDF invoice for delivery and integrate directly into the provider’s ERP, eliminating the all-too-frequent manual processes that plague healthcare purchases today.

The results? By unifying all EDI and non-EDI transmissions, Remitra eliminates complexities, automates processes and creates much-needed standardization between providers and suppliers.

How Suppliers Can Get Ahead

  1. Achieve predictability and faster speed to payment. Paper checks are far less secure opens in a new tab than e-payment solutions such as automated clearing house (ACH) and virtual credit cards. Checks can get lost in the mail, be intentionally damaged or intercepted, duplicated or rerouted – all of which delay payment to suppliers. E-payments through Remitra solve these issues, decreasing suppliers’ time to cash by two weeks.
  2. Protect sensitive data. Paper-based AP and AR processing can place financial data and customer security at risk. And with cybercrime in healthcare supply chains opens in a new tab on the rise, there’s an increasing need to share and store data safely without slowing down transmission. Through Remitra, proprietary invoice data is encrypted throughout the transaction process to safeguard against cybercrime.
  3. Gain better visibility and increased efficiencies across the procure-to-pay process. Suppliers can easily look up invoice and payment status on-demand 24/7, be notified early of match exception errors (these occur when there’s a discrepancy between the supplier’s invoice and the provider’s purchase order) and quickly export payment details for streamlined AR reconciliation. PINC AI data suggests that 5-15 percent of invoices contain match exception errors. With Remitra, suppliers can achieve as low as a 1 percent match exception rate.

How Providers Can Get Ahead

  1. Eliminate human error and the expense associated with it. A large volume of paper invoices can be overwhelming for a provider’s AP department. Input errors can easily happen and may not be caught in time, if at all, to address the issues. Premier member Baptist Health South Florida opens in a new tab turned to the data to find the source of their invoicing errors – equating to $7 million in avoidable overcharges – and is now working with Remitra to develop solutions to avoid these errors in the future.
  2. Refocus resources on more value-added, strategic opportunities. A heavy reliance on paper results in wasted time and revenue that could be better deployed to improve other areas of a health system. As healthcare continues to shift from fee-for-service to value-based care, streamlining the procure-to-pay process is more important than ever. Premier member Henry Ford Health System opens in a new tab successfully streamlined their AP process with Premier technology. By eliminating paper, the system was able to drive operational efficiencies and recognize more than $1.8 million in savings in less than three years.
  3. Become a revenue generator rather than a health system expense. AP automation helps to ensure invoices get paid on time, so health systems can reap the benefits that help drive revenue into the accounting department, including prompt-pay discounts and other financial incentives from suppliers and rebates from credit card processors.

21st Century and Beyond

As newer technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning and natural language processing accelerate healthcare into a new echelon of care delivery, some simple processes remain sorely in need of modernization – including AP and AR.

The technologies and capabilities to unlock significant savings and efficiencies with AP and AR are literally at our fingertips, whether we’re swiping, tapping or clicking. Now we just need to embrace them and foster their adoption industry-wide among both providers and suppliers.

With Remitra, Premier is doing just that.

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