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Accounts Payable Automation in Healthcare: It’s Not Just for Hospitals


Key takeaways:
  • Smaller providers across the Continuum of Care (CoC) are facing their own post-COVID-19 financial and labor challenges.
  • Accounts payable (AP) automation can provide healthcare organizations of all types and sizes relief in the form of greater operational efficiencies, cost savings, revenue generation and opportunities to optimize working capital.
  • Premier is leading the way in healthcare AP automation with our Remitra® solutions, most of which can be fully implemented within half a year and delivering return on investment (ROI) at a time when CoC providers need it most.

Rising costs. Declining federal funding and reimbursements. Shrinking margins. Supply chain weaknesses. Staffing shortages. COVID-19 exacerbated these challenges for healthcare organizations across the U.S., changing the healthcare landscape as we navigate post-pandemic reality. But it’s not just hospitals that are feeling the strain; providers across the Continuum of Care (CoC) — including physician practices, surgery centers, long-term care facilities and others – are strained too.

Unlike hospitals, CoC settings are often smaller with tighter budgets and leaner staff. Oftentimes, staff members wear multiple hats (e.g., one person managing both patient scheduling and supply inventory). One solution that’s helping healthcare organizations to optimize operations and safely reduce costs in this challenging environment is accounts payable (AP) automation. And while one might think AP automation is only for larger hospitals, AP automation can provide much-needed relief for the smaller providers along the CoC as well.

Premier is committed to supporting CoC providers in a number of ways, including Remitra® AP automation, a suite of digitized financial solutions built for healthcare organizations regardless of size, type or group purchasing organization (GPO) affiliation.

Here are three ways Remitra® AP automation solutions are positively impacting the bottom line for CoC providers.

1. By consolidating invoice processing, Remitra® AP automation helps create time- and cost-saving efficiencies.

The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the movement of care. Many healthcare services that were once provided in hospitals are now provided in multiple settings across the continuum. Managing supplier invoices sent to numerous locations (some across the U.S.) can be daunting for CoC providers, especially for those that can’t afford to hire additional staff to handle them. Centralizing invoice processing with Remitra® AP automation solutions can alleviate this burden.

With the Remitra® Digital Mailroom, CoC providers no longer have to manually work through piles of paper invoices received at various locations or worry about them being delivered to physical addresses. Suppliers’ paper invoices are received in a Remitra® PO box where they’re opened, scanned, translated into electronic format using Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology and loaded automatically for processing.

Through the digitization of invoices with Remitra® Electronic Invoicing, staff can save time (on average, it takes 14.3 days to process a paper invoice versus 3.7 days for a digital invoice) and providers can save money (on average, a paperless AP solution can lower the cost per invoice by as much as 80 percent, according to one study).

2. Remitra® AP automation can help alleviate today’s macro environment stressors by unlocking working capital and generating rebate dollars back to the organization.

The higher cost of goods associated with persistent inflation, federal funding coming to an end as a result of the unwinding of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE) declaration and the recoupment of payments associated with the COVID-19 Accelerated and Advance Payments (CAAP) Program are putting providers across the CoC in a financial pincer.

The Remitra® Cash Flow Optimizer (CFO) tool along with Remitra® Check Replacement are designed to address providers’ ongoing financial pressures by uncovering hidden dollars and creating new sources of revenue.

Remitra® CFO helps optimize working capital that may be locked away in providers’ manual, paper-based accounting processes. The technology can make payments on behalf of providers within contract terms, extend their payables timelines 30 days or more and reduce the number of payments across multiple suppliers. Remitra® Check Replacement solutions – including virtual credit cards – offer providers the opportunity to earn cash back rebates from credit card processors. Together, these tools can contribute to providers’ margin improvement efforts and help them drive business forward.

3. Remitra® AP automation acts as a labor extender for thinly stretched back-office staff and can afford physician practices and larger groups more flexibility with their hiring strategies.

Healthcare staff turnover and shortages aren’t just a problem on the front lines of patient care, they’re affecting the back office as well. The recruiting, hiring and training of AP staff requires valuable time and monetary resources, both of which CoC providers cannot afford to waste.

The automation and consolidation of invoice processing and payment with Remitra® solutions can take some of the burden off the hiring process. CoC providers can look at a broader candidate pool as Remitra® technology can support a remote work environment, which many candidates are looking for in our post-COVID-19 world.

For CoC providers with multiple locations, centralizing AP with Remitra® solutions can mean hiring just one experienced person, working remotely, to process invoices and payments for all locations. Going into an office is no longer necessary as invoices don’t need to be printed, managers chased for approvals and queries, and checks handwritten and mailed. With Remitra® AP automation, staff gain 24/7 access and 100 percent control and visibility over invoices and payments anytime, anywhere.

Remitra® AP Automation Implementation Facts

The benefits of automating AP processes across the CoC are clear, yet many of the providers we talk to think they don’t have enough staff to implement or the time to wait to see a return on investment (ROI), and that’s just not so.

Implementing Remitra® AP automation tools takes less time than most providers think (most can be fully implemented within half a year (see approximations based on recent Remitra® implementations below), and our experts are there every step of way, helping to ensure a smooth transition from paper-based to digitized accounting processes so operational efficiencies can be achieved and sustained.

  • Remitra® Electronic Invoicing – approximately 18-20 weeks to implement*
  • Remitra® Digital Mailroom – approximately 8-10 weeks to implement (beginning 10 weeks into the Electronic Invoicing implementation)*
  • Remitra® Check Replacement – approximately 8-10 weeks to implement

* Electronic Invoicing and Digital Mailroom services must go live at the same time for the processing of the scanned invoices to occur.

Want to know how much your organization can potentially save switching to Remitra® AP automation? Check out our return on investment (ROI) calculator to learn more!

Still unsure Remitra® AP automation can benefit your organization? To help separate fact from fiction, we’ve debunked the top five AP automation myths we hear from providers in a recent blog.

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