I am a child of the 1980s who grew up with a Trapper Keeper as my primary organization tool and a pocket Hello Kitty calendar to keep track of social engagements. Today’s tech-driven society leaves me in utter amazement. As a breast cancer survivor, I know the medical advances I personally benefited from (like analysis of tumors using data analytics) would not have been possible ten years ago. But technology does not just positively affect the clinical side of cancer care. It also mitigates the stress associated with the financial side.

As anyone who has ever been diagnosed with cancer can tell you, the financial impact is a source of major concern for patients. Cancer patients are more likely to declare personal bankruptcy according to the Journal of Clinical Oncology. According to a recent CNBC article on this issue, “There’s even a term – financial toxicity of cancer – to describe the duress individuals with serious cancer diagnoses face, which in turn, affects their health outcomes.”

Management accountants have long recognized the singularity of healthcare as an industry, where the cost to the patient has no connection to outcomes. For this reason, management accounting experts like Michael Porter, Robert Kaplan, and Mark Frigo have argued that healthcare must meet the standard of “better outcomes for lower cost,” a standard I wholeheartedly support.

This is where better accounting and finance processes, fueled by technology like AI and intelligent automation, can be the equivalent of superheroes for cancer patients. One of the major pain points for cancer patients as they undergo treatment is insurance pre-authorization of expenses. It turns out that this is also one of the major pain points for healthcare CFOs.

When the pre-authorization process is done manually, it is error-prone and time consuming. But when AI-enabled technologies are deployed to automate the process, huge improvements can be made. For example, Digitize.AI, an AI technology firm, worked with a healthcare company to use AI to automatically check for new cases, submit them directly to payers via secure integrations, continually monitor payers for responses, and, once authorization is received, automatically submit to providers’ electronic health record systems. This translates into a seamless process for cancer patients.

The CFO realizes significant cost savings from eliminating wrongful denials, inefficiencies and clerical errors. The AI-enabled system also includes real-time analytics and machine learning models that create valuable intelligence, allowing the CFO and the finance team to focus on patient care instead of administrative burdens. Patients appreciate the greater accuracy and transparency of the healthcare financial process.

This is what making a difference looks like in an accounting and finance context. And it could not have been done without technology. IMA’s latest advertising campaign, “CMAs Make a Difference” focuses on stories like this to drive home the importance of upskilling in technology for accounting and finance professionals. It is also why IMA is committed to making tools and resources continually available to every accounting and finance professional who wants to leverage data analytics, AI, robotic process automation, or intelligent automation to improve processes. If you want to make a difference, take advantage of IMA’s portfolio of resources devoted to technology via the online Technology and Analytics Center.

I survived cancer and the stresses associated with it. I think I owe that to the support of family, friends, my employer, and perhaps, a CMA.

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