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Dan Murdoch

October 23, 2023
Prior Authorization
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Prior Authorization Challenges Facing Behavioral Health

Prior Authorization Challenges Facing Behavioral Health

Behavioral health practices provide vital care to those facing mental health challenges. However, they deal with administrative burdens that other medical specialties don't face. One of the biggest is managing insurance prior authorizations. 

Based on recent studies, a lack of prior authorization touched roughly 26% of people seeking treatment for mental health conditions in the past year. 

This article will discuss the prior authorization challenges behavioral health groups encounter and how Adonis, a revenue intelligence and automation platform can help mitigate such challenges.

The Idea of "Prior Authorization" in Behavioral Healthcare 

Prior authorization refers to getting approval from an insurance provider before supplying specific medical services. This confirmation is required for procedures, tests, prescriptions, equipment rentals, and other services outlined in the plan's coverage policies. 

It's an approval or go-ahead from an insurance company before someone gets a medical treatment or medication. The goal is to ensure the requested care meets established medical necessity criteria to qualify for reimbursement.

But getting that approval isn't always easy or quick, especially for behavioral health services.

Today's Challenges with Prior Authorization for Behavioral Health Services

We use different kinds of software (like Electronic Health Records - EHRs) to check on patient data quickly. It helps with things like their appointments, medications, and allergies. However, most EHR systems lack built-in support for handling insurance prior authorizations. 

This results in providers having to handle much of the work manually. Staff must verify which services require pre-approval for each patient's insurance plan. Then, they submit authorization requests and follow up on pending responses. The whole process increases administrative costs and headaches for behavioral health providers 

Moreover, insurance companies often have different and complex requirements for prior authorization of behavioral health services. These requirements are not always clearly communicated, leading to confusion and denials of claims.

Lack of Uniformity

Even though insurance companies are required to adhere to federal and state laws, there is no universal guideline for prior authorization in behavioral health services. Let's take Medicaid, for example. There are five companies providing managed care in the state of Louisiana alone. Each of them has a different system of prior authorization for behavioral health services, making it difficult for providers to keep up with all the different processes. 

Why Prior Authorization Matters 

Difficulties securing proper prior authorization has significant downstream effects. This problem can hurt patients and providers alike. 

For patients who need help quickly, it means waiting longer – they're stuck until their therapy is cleared by insurers. With something as time-sensitive as mental health, waiting weeks for approval is far from ideal. Alternatively, patients may get stuck with unexpected medical billing their insurance won’t cover. This harms satisfaction and treatment adherence.

As for providers, they lose revenue from rendered services if authorization is missing. Appealing denials also burns additional staff hours. Not to mention the toll these administrative burdens take on the mental and emotional well-being of the staff on the front lines of patient care.

The Adonis Solution

Adonis offers an integrated platform combining prior authorization automation with robust analytics for data-driven insights. This is where our solution stands apart from existing ones today: unifying prior authorization automation with robust analytics through its Revenue Intelligence module. 

It provides healthcare providers with a centralized platform where necessary authorizations are verified before services commence.

Key features include:

  • Auto-verification of authorization requirements against patient insurance plans
  • Tracking KPIs like denial rates and turnaround times by payer
  • Proactive alerts for pending authorizations to drive rapid follow-up
  • Machine learning to constantly learn and improve
  • Artificial intelligence (AI) to learn approval patterns and preemptively predict denials  
  • Reporting to uncover opportunities to improve authorization processes
  • Bulk submission of authorization requests 

By centralizing critical performance metrics with automation in one platform, Adonis offers unprecedented visibility into the revenue cycle. This allows healthcare administrators to move from reactive to proactive optimization of their prior authorization workflows.


Tackling these prior authorization billing challenges needs daily handling in our behavioral health practices. But by embracing smart software tools like Adonis’ Prior Authorization —which combines automation with deep learning—we make things simpler for patients and more efficient for healthcare providers alike.

By knowing earlier than ever whether insurers give their approval nod, awkward barriers at appointments become things of the past. Let's turn tech-savvy for better patient experiences and easier revenue cycle management in your healthcare settings!

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