February 15, 2022

Is autonomous coding the next frontier in digitized healthcare?

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There’s a lot of talk about autonomous coding, or AI coding, in healthcare these days. It’s important to know: How much of what you’re hearing is hype, and should you start thinking about autonomous coding in your own healthcare practice?

If you are skeptical about the benefits and long-term savings gained through this technology, you’re not alone. We’re here to uncover where autonomous coding is headed and whether it’s worth the price of implementation.

First, it’s important to understand why autonomous coding was developed in the first place and what its founders aim to bring to the market. According to the Executive Vice President of CorroHealth1, a leader in the autonomous coding space, the number and complexity of healthcare coding systems skyrocketed 5 to 6 years ago. This has made coding harder to learn and keep track of for healthcare developers, while increasing the likelihood of errors.

Even more recently, significant investments were made to digitize healthcare. With increasing digitization, more players and more varied systems have joined the healthcare ecosystem. Part of this trend is an increasingly codified knowledge and record keeping base. Pioneers in the AI coding space believe that autonomous coding is simply an inevitable next step in our digitization roadmap.

But, is the technology ready for prime time?

The answer depends. Autonomous coding is gaining ground in healthcare, but it seems to be taking a slow hold. According to one autonomous coding platform provider, their technology can improve coding quality by 30%. In a case study, they cite an unnamed hospital with a claim denial rate of less than 1% after several months of autonomous coding use.2 In most cases, the results won’t be astronomical just yet, though some providers might benefit greatly from code that can be marginally more accurate right away.

Another important factor is understanding what kinds of cost savings you’re likely to get from autonomous coding. Unlike other digital platforms, autonomous coding probably won’t save labor costs. You will still need coders to inspect the code and manually intervene in unusual patient cases. Rather, the real benefits of autonomous coding accrue over a longer period of time, from the errors and rework saved through more accurate medical records.

Looking forward, we predict that autonomous coding will become an important part of our digital healthcare infrastructure. Coding continues to become more complex, and digitization is not slowing down. As AI and natural language processing technologies expand and accelerate their learning, autonomous coding promises accurate EHR systems that never sleep. In the near future, we foresee that AI coding will maintain and update medical records 24/7 to enhance both the patient and employee experience.

Only you can decide whether the benefits are right for you now or later.

Footnotes:

1 Autonomous Coding: It’s Not About Cost Reduction. It’s About Improving Revenue.

2 Nym Case Study – Reducing Cost and Strengthening Revenue Cycle by Implementing Autonomous Coding (Final)