Healthcare providers cope with repetitive tasks like collecting patient date, giving out prescriptions, billing, patient onboarding, claims management, and more daily. While these tasks prove critical, they’re also tedious and time-consuming. As the rise in demand for medical services increases, those time-consuming, manual tasks are prone to human error, putting patients and healthcare institutions at risk.
Automation offers a chance to improve patient outcomes by ensuring processes become more effective and efficient. While many industries already use automation, the healthcare industry has been somewhat slower to adopt it, although surveys show that 90 percent of large healthcare organizations surveyed say they have an automation strategy in place. Just a few examples of healthcare automation include systems that warn providers of interactions and contraindications for medicines or sending patients text messages to remind them of an appointment.
Just as automation already revolutionized the way other industries work, applying automation to healthcare offers big benefits, too. Automated care — from administrative tasks to operational jobs — offers benefits like reduced costs, lower risk of non-compliance, the better quality of care, and improved patient experience.
Here’s a closer look at some of the key benefits of automation in healthcare.
Automation in Healthcare — What Does That Mean?
First, it’s essential to know what automation in healthcare really means. Vendors make claims that their services or products offer some automation, and this isn’t always true. Products requiring staff members to initiate sequences before they work aren’t truly automated.
Services and products offering true automation work in the background and don’t require constant attention. Automated solutions work even when staff members don’t know they’re running, and solutions that can complete a sequence or task are considered automatic. Remember, to be an automatic solution, it should be able to begin, run and end without required human intervention or assistance.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has brought the immense pressure the U.S. healthcare system is under into sharp focus. Recent dynamics are compounded by the industry’s efforts to adopt newer ways of working and digitizing patient records, while implementing automation throughout their business processes to increase overall efficiency and productivity.Giri Rajaiah, Executive Leader, Vice President, Healthcare & Life Sciences, DISYS
Top Ways Automation Benefits the Healthcare Industry
Automated care continues to reinvent and reimagine healthcare, enabling efficiencies that prove impossible when following manual processes. Not only does automation reduce the less human-facing workload for staff, but it results in better care for patients. Here’s a closer look at some of the top ways automation benefits the healthcare industry.
Benefit #1 – Lower Costs
Implementing automated healthcare solutions helps lower costs. Automation helps do this in several ways, such as reduced errors, less overtime, and superior efficiency. With automation, practitioners accomplish even more during a shift, which also lowers overall stress levels. The reduction in overtime also allows staff to focus more of their time on patient care, leading to fewer medical errors requiring big payouts.
Benefit #2 – Easy Scheduling
Manual scheduling takes time and often proves difficult due to scheduling conflicts and the need to match patients to the correct location and provider. Automating scheduling offers a more effective way to accomplish this, increasing the efficiency of scheduling and canceling appointments. However, to reap the benefits of automated scheduling solutions, it’s essential to integrate the solution with your current Electronic Health Record/Practice Management platform so any results around scheduling get identified.
Appointment reminder automated solutions work similarly and help improve the patient experience by sending them appointment reminders. This helps reduce cancellations and no-shows.
Benefit #3 – Improved Data Transfer and Access
Automation of data transfer and addition of patient data to a database instantly after it’s collected. This makes it easy to share data with other departments or institutions. Data sharing often proves difficult within the healthcare industry, and automating this process reduces bottlenecks in treatment workflows when multiple departments must work together on a patient’s diagnosis or treatment.
Benefit #4 – Adapting to Changes
Machine learning, a type of automation, is now gets used by many healthcare systems in order to more easily adapt to change, such as sudden changes that occur in patient volume. This often proves useful in emergency rooms, allowing them to adjust their staffing levels as patient volumes fluctuate. It also lowers wait times for ambulatory services, since organizations can more accurately predict when they need to increase staffing to deal with upcoming flu seasons by checking historical data from various sources.
Recently, practices implemented automation to respond faster to changes that occurred as a result of COVID-19, adjusting maximum occupation capacities for practices and social distancing practices. Using messaging solutions also allow communication between staff and patients, helping practices handle changes with local guideline changes or handle emergencies requiring office closures efficiently.
Benefit #5 – Reduction in Errors
With automated care, minimizing the human element helps reduce the risk of human errors. Provider tools used to help diagnose and treat patients may be automated, but automating administrative operations processes also offers big benefits.
Automatically sharing data between systems offers insight into various administrative processes. For example, data from various sources when used together may reduce lead times for appointments or surgical procedures. The increased reliability of automation also enables healthcare facilities to offer services to more individuals or assist patients with finding alternative locations for faster care.
Benefit #6 – Speed and Precision in Diagnoses
Time proves crucial when diagnosing patients, particularly those with serious illnesses. Delaying a diagnosis increases the risk of more serious complications or even death. Automating processes help clinicians offer faster, more precise results for patients. Automation also detects a patient deviation from their care plan, helping healthcare professionals intervene quickly.
Benefit #7 – Improved Patient Privacy
Following the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) proves essential for protecting personally identifiable information and protected health information for patients. Automating case management data helps ensure HIPAA compliance, ensuring authorized personnel are the only ones able to access personal health information.
Benefit #8 – Managing Healthcare Workflows
Running healthcare facilities involves multiple workflows, such as remote monitoring, coordinating and managing workers, case management, utilization management, patient wellness, and more. All workflows contain information about routine but crucial tasks essential for both patients and providers. Managing these workflows manually results in a significant time investment for staff.
By automating these workflows, workflows are centralized and streamlined. This ensures processes of assigning tasks become less time-consuming and more efficient. Automation helps remove bottlenecks while accelerating response times and improving the patient experience.
Benefit #9 – Improved Patient Satisfaction
Multiple factors affect patient satisfaction. While the level of the care received proves a significant factor, ease of checking in, scheduling appointments, and getting through appointments all prove critical to ensuring patients are happy, too. The total time required for appointments, including wait time and the length of time to get an appointment, also impacts patient satisfaction.
Automated care allows practices to boost patient experience and satisfaction in many ways. One example is implementing software that texts patients to reschedule appointments if they must miss an appointment. Automated scheduling software lets patients schedule appointments from a computer or mobile device anytime, giving patients greater freedom to find times that work best for them.
Healthcare Automation is the Future
Automation continues to become more common in the healthcare industry, and many tasks within healthcare lend themselves to automation. As the industry continues facing challenges of providing quality healthcare, increasing numbers of patients, and a healthcare workforce that isn’t growing as quickly as the aging population, automation offers the answers for better productivity and efficiency as we move toward the future.