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Posted: January 14th, 2020

Streamlining Prior Authorization Processes

Streamlining Prior Authorization Processes

Prior authorization is a process that requires health care providers to obtain approval from insurance companies before they can perform certain services or prescribe certain medications to their patients. Prior authorization is intended to ensure that the services or medications are medically necessary, appropriate, and cost-effective. However, prior authorization can also create significant administrative burdens, delays, and denials for providers and patients, affecting the quality and continuity of care.

According to a 2019 survey by the American Medical Association (AMA), 91% of physicians reported that prior authorization had a negative impact on patient clinical outcomes, 88% reported that it increased patient frustration, and 28% reported that it led to serious adverse events such as hospitalization or death. Moreover, 86% of physicians reported that prior authorization interfered with the continuity of care, and 64% reported that it delayed or interrupted care.

The AMA and other stakeholders have advocated for streamlining prior authorization processes to reduce the administrative burden and improve patient outcomes. Some of the strategies that have been proposed or implemented include:

– Adopting electronic prior authorization systems that can integrate with electronic health records and automate the exchange of information between providers and insurers.
– Implementing standardized prior authorization criteria and forms that are consistent across insurers and aligned with evidence-based guidelines.
– Reducing the number of services or medications that require prior authorization or exempting certain providers or patients from prior authorization based on their performance or risk level.
– Increasing transparency and communication about prior authorization requirements, status, and decisions for both providers and patients.
– Establishing reasonable time frames and response rates for prior authorization requests and appeals, as well as ensuring timely access to care for urgent or emergent situations.
– Evaluating the impact of prior authorization on patient outcomes, provider satisfaction, and health care costs, and adjusting the processes accordingly.

Streamlining prior authorization processes can benefit both providers and patients by reducing administrative hassles, improving workflow efficiency, enhancing patient safety, and ensuring timely access to appropriate care. However, streamlining prior authorization also requires collaboration and coordination among various stakeholders, including insurers, providers, patients, regulators, and policymakers. Therefore, it is important to engage all parties in the discussion and implementation of streamlining strategies, as well as to monitor and evaluate their effectiveness and impact.


– American Medical Association. (2019). 2019 AMA Prior Authorization Physician Survey.
– American Medical Association. (2020). Prior Authorization Reform Principles.
– Madara, J. L. (2017). Streamlining Prior Authorization: A Win-Win for Patients and Physicians. Health Affairs Blog.
– Patel, K., & Olson, A. (2018). Streamlining Prior Authorization: A Path Forward for Improving Care Delivery. Health Affairs Blog.


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