Accounts Receivable
Digital transformation in healthcare - Improving patient experience through automation

Digital transformation in healthcare - Improving patient experience through automation

illustrated receiptsHeader imageHeader imageHeader imageHeader image
Table of contents
Check out additional BILL resources
Learn more

Is digital transformation making healthcare feel less personal? As chatbots ask patients about their symptoms and iPhones offer on-demand ECGs, healthcare providers may wonder.

Fortunately, leading healthcare organizations are forging a safe path through this brave new world, continuously improving patient care while raising profits at the same time.

How? By using digital tech to bring patients and caregivers closer than ever.

Digital tech can remove the discomfort of packed waiting rooms. It can transform complex billing into transparent, easy-to-read invoices. And, yes, it can give patients critical information in real-time—so care providers can help them take better control of their health.

By asking one simple question over and over, healthcare organizations are making the right choices when it comes to digital transformation: “Will this new technology improve the patient experience?”

Digital transformation of the front office

When considering front-office tech, the goal of digital transformation is not to replace human assistants. It’s to give them the time they need to provide more personal care—while offering patients more convenience, better service, and greater privacy.

Common front-office digital technologies include patient portals for communication and records, digital appointment scheduling and reminders, and even electronic check-ins.

These and other digital initiatives are changing the way patients interact with healthcare organizations before they ever set foot in the office.

Patient portals

Patient data and messaging—from test results to appointment reminders—call for the utmost sensitivity and care. Patient portals can alleviate privacy concerns for patients and care providers alike while enhancing convenience.

With the right protections in place for electronic health records (EHR) and electronic medical records (EMR), patients can review things like appointment notes and test results whenever they like, even after hours.

Portals also give care providers new opportunities to reach patients at times when they’re actively seeking that connection. Within the patient portal ecosystem, providers can offer reminders about routine health screenings and even exchange messages with their patients.

As simple as it sounds, this is a huge advancement in using tech to improve patient experience. Patients can message their doctor at their own convenience while protecting the confidentiality of their information, and doctors can touch base between appointments while maintaining professional boundaries.

Digital appointment scheduling

Patients can also use digital technology to schedule appointments with convenience and privacy. They can check an appointment calendar in the middle of the night—or in the middle of a crowded break room without any risk of someone overhearing a conversation.

Digital scheduling frees up quality time for your front-office staff so they can focus on answering the kinds of questions that chatbots can’t.

When worried patients need help with insurance or prescriptions, they won’t get stuck on hold. Very few things make patients feel more cared for than being able to talk to a human being when they need to.

Digital technology should make getting through to a person easier, not harder.

Digital check-ins

Some offices are also providing digital check-in service, a technology that became more widespread during the early days of the pandemic.

With digital check-ins, patients don’t have to enter the building to let care givers know they’ve arrived. Instead, they can send a digital message and wait for their turn outside.

Even as pandemic restrictions ease, waiting rooms can still be filled with the flu, bronchitis, stomach bugs, and the common cold. Digital check-ins help protect patients’ health while keeping their health information private from other visitors.

Some care providers have also seen the technology reduce wait times, and most patients enjoy being able to wait for their clinician outside—whether that means talking on the phone in their car or sipping a latte in the spring sunshine.

Digital transformation of patient care

Although medical devices may be the most obvious example of new tech in the US healthcare industry, digital transformation touches every aspect of patient care.

Digital tech helps healthcare professionals diagnose, treat, and support their patients through the use of wearable devices, telemedicine, and the application of big data, to name just a few.

Just as front-office tech should make patients feel closer to their care providers, digital tech used for care delivery should do the same thing.

Wearable medical devices

From smart fitness watches to phone-driven ECG monitors, wearable medical devices are revolutionizing patient care.

The widespread availability of high-speed internet is paving the way for new leaps forward in the internet of things (IoT), helping healthcare providers develop highly informed care plans with their patients.

Continuous glucose monitors are a prime example. Diabetic patients can get life-saving information about glucose levels in real-time, with the ability to share their healthcare data with doctors, family, or decision-making caregivers.

In choosing which devices to use and recommend, that kind of data management is a critical aspect of user experience.


Digital tech in telehealth pairs with wearable medical devices to improve patient care in revolutionary ways.

Stroke recovery, for example, is especially promising. Stroke-related therapy can be difficult for patients to maintain over time, especially when stroke survivors are limited in their ability to travel to and from appointments.

Long-term stroke recovery programs are far more practical when they can be completed at home using digital-health devices and telehealth appointments.

When considering the right applications for telemedicine appointments, leading care providers are thinking strategically about patients’ varying needs.

  • Could wearable devices provide more useful data for some conditions than patients can get from isolated lab tests?
  • Would virtual care check-ins scheduled between regular appointments provide a convenient way to stay on top of certain cases more closely?

In some healthcare sectors, telemedicine appointments paired with smart devices can even lower costs, making it possible for patients to check in with their healthcare provider more often and receive better care.

Big data

When wearable medical devices combine with telemedicine, the result is big data—the large-scale collection of anonymous, aggregated data that can transform healthcare systems.

Imagine, for example, asking thousands of diabetic survey respondents to self-report their blood sugar highs and lows at different times of the day and night.

Now imagine those thousands of diabetics wearing continuous glucose monitors that take and report accurate measurements several times an hour, all day and all night.

When combined in an anonymous, aggregate way, that data can be mined for information that could save the lives of thousands. Scientists can apply artificial intelligence to analyze millions of data points, hunting for hidden patterns.

Are diabetic heart attacks often preceded by a certain series of glucose spikes and troughs? What if a continuous glucose monitor could be programmed to alert healthcare services through a smartphone if it sees that same pattern emerging—before the heart attack happens?

Although that particular use-case is purely hypothetical, it’s easy to see how patient care could be transformed over time as wearable devices and telemedicine combine with artificial intelligence and big data.

This level of digital transformation is still in its infancy, but with thousands of medical device companies in the US alone, many of them brand new startups, healthcare providers should expect these shifts to move even faster over time.

Digital transformation of the back office

No one enjoys paying bills, but that’s all the more reason healthcare providers are making the process as frictionless for patients as they possibly can.

It’s important for back-office systems to safeguard protected health information (PHI) and electronic protected health information (ePHI). That’s true for billing systems as well as accounts payable, where payments for labs or other services may contain personally identifiable information.

Digital tech can transform these processes to make back-office systems more efficient—while also making them more convenient for patients and better protecting their privacy.

Digital, transparent billing

One of the most important things providers can do in the billing process to make patients feel cared for is to focus on price transparency.

Invoices should be easy to read, with separate line items for each charge, described in terms patients can understand. Health insurance contributions should be called out in an obvious way, making it clear what was and wasn’t covered.

To give patients a single point of access for records, messaging, and billing, global health portals can provide digital invoices that connect each bill to services provided.

A portal can also provide convenient payment links, but those payment links shouldn’t be limited to the patient. After all, the patient isn’t always the payer.

To protect patient privacy, guest users should have the ability to identify and pay bills without logging into the patient’s portal account.

Accounts payable automation

As healthcare finance evolves, AI will become crucial for managing payments while reducing administrative costs and maximizing revenue. It represents the next step in accounting’s evolution as a critical business function with modern capabilities. Replacing manual processes with automated ones frees up valuable time for employees who might be stretched thin or struggling to manage more work among fewer people. It effectively gives finance professionals the freedom to focus on higher-value tasks or simply reclaim a few hours in their day, which can decrease burnout and improve performance.

To help avoid patient billing errors, healthcare accounts receivable (AR) and accounts payable (AP) systems should sync with accounting software and enterprise resource planning systems (ERP systems).

Bill amounts should only be entered once, flowing through the rest of the back-office system automatically.

Accounts payable automation software can further reduce the chance of human error by using AI and optical character recognition (OCR) to read bills and enter that data for review.

AP automation can apply unique approval workflows based on a specific business model, allow for digital approval collection, and pay bills through a variety of channels, all from the same convenient dashboard.

As healthcare finance evolves, AP automation will become crucial for managing payments while reducing administrative costs and maximizing revenue. It represents the next step in accounting’s evolution as a critical business function with modern capabilities. Replacing manual processes with automated ones frees up valuable time for employees who might be stretched thin or struggling to manage more work among fewer people. It effectively gives finance professionals the freedom to focus on higher-value tasks or simply reclaim a few hours in their day, which can decrease burnout and improve performance.

These efficiencies free up back-office time, letting healthcare providers focus on staffing for more critical human interactions, like answering patient questions and improving patient experience, instead of paying mundane bills.

For healthcare organizations, back-office optimization software should also offer safeguards to protect ePHI and help those organizations stay compliant with HIPAA.

First steps toward digital transformation

For healthcare providers that want to apply these new technologies, back-office automation is one of the easiest ways to move into healthcare digital transformation.

A free demo can show stakeholders at every level the clear benefits of back-office automation, and these systems can be as easy to use as they are to implement.

Best of all, automating billing and accounts payable systems is one of the quickest ways to free up staff time to work on other digital transformation solutions.

Explore the possibilities of digital transformation with BILL, and learn more about how we can help organizations in the healthcare industry. Sign up for a free demo, or start a risk-free trial today.

The information provided on this page does not, and is not intended to constitute legal or financial advice and is for general informational purposes only. The content is provided "as-is"; no representations are made that the content is error free.