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Three Ways AP Automation Can Optimize Your Labor Force

Key takeaways:

  • Labor shortages and other workforce issues continue to strain the U.S. healthcare industry and are showing no signs of letting up any time soon.
  • In Premier’s 2022 CEO survey, 78 percent of respondents indicated ‘labor challenges’ as their top concern.
  • Accounts payable (AP) automation can help extend a healthcare organization’s labor force – particularly in supply chain – saving time, reducing errors and fraud, and freeing resources to work on projects that drive the organization’s business forward.
  • With AP automation, healthcare organizations can not only gain opportunities to strategically redeploy their labor force, but also gain better control over cash flow and the ability to unlock extra working capital for investing in future growth opportunities.

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The COVID-19 pandemic strained our healthcare workforce and system like nothing we’ve seen before. According to a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) report opens in a new tab, severe labor shortages, increased healthcare worker burnout and other workforce challenges are likely to persist into the future.

Workforce challenges made their way into a recent Premier CEO survey where healthcare executives shared their opinions on a variety of issues. Nearly eight in 10 surveyed executives indicated “labor” as their number one concern in 2022. This statistic was the largest aggregation of providers focused on a single topic we have ever seen in a survey, including the topic of “COVID-19,” which represented seven out of 10 surveyed executives.

CEO-Survey.png Source: Premier 2022 CEO Survey

Alongside workforce challenges, many processes across healthcare are inefficient, undermining staff productivity. Approximately 25 percent opens in a new tab of healthcare spending results from administrative complexity and waste, some of which can be automated. This includes billions of dollars spent in staff and clinician time managing prior authorizations, hours expended in documentation and coding, and other time and productivity-draining administrative tasks, including accounts payable (AP) processing in healthcare supply chain.

Premier is focused on finding solutions for our members that will address the staffing shortfall and improve staff productivity. Remitra™ AP automation is one of them.

AP automation extends a finance team’s labor force and increases productivity, enabling existing staff to accomplish more so health systems can hold off on hiring additional staff. Backed by the PINC AI™ opens in a new tab technology and consulting suite and Premier industry-leading supply chain solutions opens in a new tab, Remitra™ is digitizing back-office functions to help mitigate workforce challenges while reducing waste, enabling efficiencies and freeing up staff time.

Here are three ways Remitra™ is helping healthcare supply chains maximize their AP talent:

Minimize Time Spent on Manual, Repetitive Tasks

Despite the widespread availability of technology-driven accounting solutions, surprisingly, paper and manual processes opens in a new tab still dominate in healthcare supply chain AP. These processes – including paper purchase order (PO) and invoice handling and manual check writing and remittance – unnecessarily bog down staff with administrative work that’s tedious, time-consuming and perhaps most costly of all, prone to human error.

Contracting, invoicing and ordering errors can disrupt the supply chain opens in a new tab, leading to price discrepancies and match exceptions between POs and invoices that delay payment to suppliers and consequently the delivery of critical supplies to providers. Empowered with data and driven by artificial intelligence, the Remitra™ solution helps reduce paper-based workflows opens in a new tab leading to these errors, giving AP staff back time to focus on value-add activities such as sourcing new prompt-pay discount opportunities and other financial incentives from suppliers and rebates from credit card processors.

Empower a Remote Workforce

Now more than ever, employees want more choice over where and when they work. In fact, it’s one of the five main healthcare supply chain trends opens in a new tab Premier forecasted for 2022. This control over work location and schedule can be invaluable when it comes to striking the right work/life balance. Large organizations are using their scale to invest in IT tools and programs that give employees greater flexibility in their work environment.

Automating invoice processing, approvals and payments with the Remitra™ cloud-based solution means that it doesn’t matter where your team is located. Going into an office isn’t necessary as invoices don’t need to be printed; managers chased for approvals and queries; and checks handwritten, mailed or received. Your AP team gains 24/7 access and 100 percent control and visibility over the invoice processing cycle anytime, anywhere. Plus, the chances of fraud and theft opens in a new tab are significantly reduced when invoices and payments are processed electronically.

Improve Cash Flow Visibility and Predictability

When AP staff don’t have to spend countless hours manually handling and hard entering POs, invoices and checks, they can turn their attention to things like finding extra working capital that may be hiding in those paper-based processes. Recent surveys conducted by the Remitra™ team reveal the majority of providers have days payable outstanding (DPO) opens in a new tab, the time it takes them to pay their invoices, that exceed their contractual terms with their suppliers.

With the new Remitra™ Cash Flow Optimizer (CFO) technology, payments are made on behalf of providers within contract terms, extending their payables timelines by up to 60 days and reducing the number of payments across multiple suppliers. This gives providers additional bandwidth to maximize their working capital rather than paying by the contract date. Remitra™ CFO also empowers AP staff to develop stronger relationships with suppliers, avoid credit holds and strengthen supply chain resiliency for better patient care.

The Road Ahead for Healthcare AP

A fully staffed AP team pushing and processing paper to handle invoice and payment processing isn’t only antiquated and inefficient, it’s less doable today with persistent labor shortages and post-COVID-19 workforce challenges. Remitra™ offers healthcare AP teams a much better alternative than recruiting more staff – automating key AP processes like invoice processing, procurement and supplier payments. With Remitra™, healthcare finance teams can do more with less and realize both time and cost savings, oftentimes transforming the AP department from a ‘cost center’ to a ‘revenue generator’ opens in a new tab.

About the Authors

Chaun Powell

Group Vice President, E-Invoicing & Payables, Remitra™

Chaun is responsible for providing leadership, strategy and execution to tech-enable critical supply chain purchasing processes.

Daniel Carcioppolo, MBA

Vice President, Margin Improvement Portfolio, Premier

Daniel is responsible for leading the Premier Margin Improvement Technology team to strategically partner with hospitals and health systems. This group’s work addresses escalating expense by providing organizations with a more efficient and automated platform for supply chain and financial transactions, reducing the total cost of care and optimizing workforce.

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