Technology in the healthcare landscape is evolving and leading patient support providers are implementing solutions that help accelerate speed to therapy for patients, including via digital assistants One crucial portion of accessing medication is being able to receive benefit verification information in a timely manner.

The rise of electronic benefits verification (eBV) has helped healthcare providers minimize time going back and forth with payers via phone or fax, making it possible for them to spend more time on patient care. When done right, eBV gives providers and patient support specialists accurate and up-to-date payer information when they need it—not days after the fact.

Yet, even with all the technological advancements in the field in recent years, end-to-end automation for non-standard benefit verification cases has remained out of reach — until now.

In late 2019, Lash Group, a US-based patient support services company, collaborated with process automation software firm Infinitus Systems to pilot its digital assistant technology. This ground-breaking advancement incorporates a unique digital assistant into the eBV solution to place automated calls to payers. By combining artificial intelligence, natural language recognition, and speech synthesis technology, digital assistants can engage in a human-like interaction with the payer on the other end of the line. Time that counselors previously spent on hold with payers is redirected to more vital and sensitive patient support tasks.

Are digital assistants the future?

The digital assistant can verbally interact with systems and users just as a human would. Since Lash Group launched the digital assistant for several of its manufacturer programs, the programs have seen a 20 percent boost in benefit verification automation. That means more patients accessing therapy faster. For participating programs, the preferred path is still a predicted eBV with results in less than 30 seconds. However, layering in the digital assistant technology keeps more cases on an automation path, helping patients get results in hours instead of days.

The technology opens new doors for patient support programs by completing thousands of patient calls per day, promising to free up more time for patient counselors to manage complex cases and guide patients through results or engage with other hub services. These ‘digital helpers’ allow programs to more quickly scale their capacity up or down as patient demand fluctuates.

“The digital assistant is just one of many new features we’re launching as part of our expanded electronic benefits verification service, but it is perhaps the most exciting,” says Myra Reinhardt, vice president of product innovation and analytics at Lash Group. “This is really the next generation of eBV technology – and we’re thrilled to be leading the way.”

Digital flexibility

Reinhardt acknowledged that  this technology doesn’t work in a vacuum: “We are always innovating to improve our eBV services, recognizing that different clients have different needs,” she says.

And Reinhardt is correct: the most effective provider portals make it possible for healthcare professionals to conduct on-demand patient eligibility checks and full benefit verifications, as well as submit requests for prior authorization. Meanwhile, manufacturers can take advantage of customized dashboards that provide real-time data and insights, allowing them to work with providers to resolve any barriers to access patients might be experiencing. Offered in tandem, the company’s real-time electronic pharmacy benefit verification service provides on-demand access to information just as robust as electronic medical benefit verifications.

Leading-edge benefit verification systems also require the agility to respond to ongoing changes to each patient’s benefits, as well as to changes in the broader healthcare landscape that might affect patient access.

Innovation in eBV means delivering what’s essential to truly meet patient needs: expertise working with patients and providers to understand payer rules and industry dynamics coupled with a continual investment in new technology.

To learn more about how to choose the right eBV for your access program, download the guide below from Lash Group.