Healthcare Automation – Leveraging Technology to Improve Healthcare Outcomes

healthcare automation

Automation is revolutionizing the way several industries operate, including healthcare. However, the rate at which healthcare automation has caught up is slower compared to other industries. One of the primary reasons for the slow adoption of automation in healthcare is the complexity of healthcare workflows. The outcome of healthcare workflows has a far larger impact on people’s lives than workflows in other industries have. 

There is a lot that healthcare automation solutions can do to improve the productivity of healthcare functions. From scheduling to clinical assessment to follow-up care, healthcare automation can help improve the outcomes of all these processes. This blog explores the potential of healthcare automation, its benefits, and the right workflow solution for automating healthcare workflows. 

Seven Challenges to Delivering Quality Healthcare

Access to quality healthcare can be a challenge for many patients for a variety of reasons. In some cases, patients are medically fit to visit healthcare providers or there are no clinics in close vicinity. Whatever the reason, healthcare organizations are always striving to bridge these gaps to ensure that healthcare services are provided to as many patients as possible. Healthcare professionals are always required to do more with less. The healthcare system is a dizzying array of decentralized sectors where as much as 37% of physicians are practicing solo or 2 person practices. 

Let us delve into the top challenges faced by the healthcare industry. 

1. Standardizing and elevating the quality of healthcare

Providing a quality, equitable standard of care remains a challenge for healthcare organizations across the globe. Low-quality healthcare is associated with higher death rates and also lowers the economic output. Having access to the latest clinical decisions and research can accelerate care decision-making and improve safety across hospital systems and countries. 

2. Optimizing clinical workflows

Clinicians require access to actionable information at the point of care. But, when clinical workflows are not optimized, healthcare providers are forced to manage with incomplete or obsolete information, delays, and alert fatigue. EHR dissatisfaction is a key factor associated with a clinician’s likelihood of resigning. Disparate clinical workflows result in a lack of continuation and coordination of care, miscommunication, redundant, and wasteful processes. 

3. Physician burnout and shortages

Shortage of staff has been a challenge that the healthcare industry has to deal with from time to time. Recruiting and retaining employees is the top priority for healthcare organizations.

A 2022 healthcare report predicts that the nursing shortage will intensify through 2023, and a report from the International Council of Nurses estimates a global shortage of 13 million nurses by 2030. Burnout of medical staff and an aging workforce are other contributing factors to the shortage of medical staff. 

4. Poor accommodation of patient needs

Patients spend a great deal of time consulting with an endless list of physicians, nurses, social workers, and therapists, who are often ignorant of past medical histories, or treatment plans, and therefore, work at cross purposes

. In a recent patient survey, 85% of the physicians surveyed stated that one or more adverse outcomes result from uncoordinated care, and the lack of coordination is usually the cause of patients receiving contradictory health information. Studies show that efficient treatment of chronic conditions needs to be continuous across settings and types of providers.

The result of lack of coordination while treating chronically ill patients is that they receive spotty or contradictory information, and may also face health complications. 

5. Slow adoption of information technology

Information technology has promising prospects in its contributions to improving the quality of healthcare. Only, the healthcare sector has been rather slow in adopting technology for improving medical outcomes. Medical personnel have a tough time keeping up with advances in medical science and information.

The right technology can help them stay updated on the latest in medical science. Despite the wide range of areas in which communication and information technology can make a substantial contribution to enhancing healthcare access, quality, and service, the industry has been slow to invest and embrace such technology. The absence of national standards for the capture, storage, communication, processing, and presentation of health information, is the main reason for this slackening in the adoption of technology. 

6. Inability to address growing consumerism among patients

Owing to the ready access that patients have to health information, thanks to the Internet, there has been a growing consumerism in healthcare. Patients and families are now better informed and educated about their healthcare, so much so that some even make their own decisions about diagnosis and treatment. On the flip side, exposure to more health information frustrates them when they are not allowed to participate in the decision-making process. 

7. Advancing health equity

Healthcare equities account for nearly $320 billion in annual spending. As per a Deloitte report, healthcare equities could exceed $1 trillion by 2040. The main focus is on addressing care disparities faced by marginalized patient populations, including socio-economic, racial, and gender-based equities. 

The above challenges faced by the healthcare industry can be effectively addressed by adopting relevant technological advancements. For example, healthcare workflows that are characterized by mundane admin activities that are data and labor-intensive can be automated to save time and money.

Medical automation also ensures that patient health records are updated across disparate health systems for a single source of truth. Centralized access to patient health records ensures that all practitioners that attend to the patient have access to the latest information. 

When is the Right Time to Automate?

Healthcare organizations perform many tasks that are ripe for automation. To derive maximum benefits from healthcare automation, it is important to choose the right time and task for automation. Processes that are tedious, repetitive, time-consuming, and produce predictive outcomes, are strong contenders for automation.

You may want to consider automation where the effort required to complete is greater than the benefit it provides. Professionals need to make a conscious decision to avoid tasks that do not provide a benefit greater than the time needed to perform them. Automating healthcare workflows need not necessarily change the processes, they instead should incorporate the best practices of the manual process, while still providing the benefits of automation. 

While making the decision to automate, the difference between true automation and a mere marketing ploy. Vendors often claim to offer products and services with some level of automation, but that may not always be complete automation. Another way to test the effectiveness of automation is to see if the solution works in the background, rather than requiring constant attention.

A solution that would still work even if the healthcare staff didn’t know it was ON is clearly automatic. Also, solutions that can perform a task or at least complete a sequence are automatic. To put it simply, a truly automatic solution should be able to start, run, and end without human intervention. 

How can Automation Help Healthcare Providers?

Automation can and has played a pivotal role in the technological revamping of healthcare, whether it is about integrating digital technology or advancing procedures, or bringing competence and productivity into healthcare workflows. Eventually, this improves the quality of patient care and discharges medical personnel from more administrative and intensive work. This makes medical procedures more productive and worthwhile. 

Automation can take various forms, like improving patient satisfaction, improving medical practices, and integrating technology by propagating the healthcare system further into the future. Using modern technology like workflow automation can make and manage a large amount of data while maintaining a high level of performance in administrative areas and operations.

Some of the areas where automation can help healthcare providers are –

Data extraction

Leveraging and propagating healthcare data is one of the most important elements of healthcare technology. It is being used by EHR machines to yield enhanced concurrent and relevant data. When the data extraction process is streamlined, it helps improve patient care and the process for retrieval of data. 

Faster billing

Using AI technology can accelerate the billing process. This saves a considerable amount of human effort in delivering the invoices to patients, Consumer utility levels are also increased by automating the billing process. 

Cost benefits

When you automate healthcare workflows, the repetitive tasks in the workflows are taken care of and redundancies are eliminated. The extra costs associated with these redundancies are also reduced, which reduces the costs associated with healthcare workflows. Saving money is the fundamental reason most hospital administrators use automation technology. Automation allows medical professionals to get more work done with lesser stress and resources. It also allows workers to focus on patient care, which leads to fewer misdiagnosis reimbursements. 

Better adaptability

Healthcare organizations go in for machine learning to improve the adaptability of the workforce to increase patient volumes, especially in the emergency department. Automating healthcare workflows also lowers ambulatory service wait times. AI helps organizations evaluate historical data from various sources to estimate the right time to expand staff for better preparedness for the next flu season. 

Improved efficiency

Eliminating the need for human intervention in tasks that do not need the human intelligence element, helps lower the possibility of error. Medical automation provides the tools for diagnosing and treating patients and automating admin activities as well. 

Higher consumer utility

The patient experience in a hospital setting is influenced by the amount of care received. Keeping the booking process simple, ensuring that appointments are completed, and keeping the waiting time for consultations down – are some of the ways in which customer satisfaction can be maintained high. 

How does Healthcare Automation Help Patients?

For one, automating healthcare workflows improves the quality of healthcare that the patient receives. Patients would want an accurate and logical diagnosis along with proper post-deduction procedural know-how. Automation technology can benefit patients in several ways, some of which are mentioned below – 

1. Preliminary Disease Identification 

Advanced technology like AI can help leverage past clinical data and other health information to streamline and accelerate disease identification. Early signs or detection of many diseases becomes easy with AI. AI-based systems help in filtering through multiple diseases available in the database to find healthcare solutions for the most probable afflictions. 

2. Accurate diagnosis 

Diagnosis in the healthcare industry is a time-sensitive affair, even a short delay in diagnosis could lead to worsening of symptoms, especially for high-risk patients. Delayed diagnosis could also lead to irreversible damage. Automating patient care helps in faster delivery and more accurate results. 

3. Risk reduction 

Even the remotest possibilities of errors in diagnosis and treatment could lead to devastating outcomes for the patient. The manual and tiresome nature of work leads to errors and inconsistencies. With automation, it is much easier for the clinic and patients to make sure that the treatment or the remedy is the most appropriate and efficient one. 

4. Improving the quality of patient care 

The use of automation facilities helps healthcare providers provide more intensive and personalized care. Automated healthcare workflows are integrated to allow seamless data exchange, which ensures that the profile of the patient is always at hand. Staying updated on patient information helps healthcare professionals deliver efficient patient care. 

5. More clarity in Presentations and Disclosures 

The interaction between medical professionals and patients is streamlined by automating the workflows. The way feedback is used and patients are tracked is improved significantly through automation. 

6. Cost-effective alternatives 

Early detection of the onset of the disease makes it easier and more economical to treat the patient before the ailment causes irreparable damage. Moreover, when the diagnosis is made early, treatment is also started early, which in turn reduces the costs of further damages due to illness. 

7. Low Level of Maintenance Requirements 

The dependence on the manual use of machines is drastically reduced via automation. The equipment used for acquiring diagnostic results is subject to breakage due to rough usage. Automation helps patients acquire their test results faster because the interdependence on the manual use of machines is reduced. 

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) in Healthcare

Robotic process automation in healthcare is something that healthcare givers must consider seriously. In an industry where standards, norms, guidelines, and compliance obligations are critical to adhere to, the healthcare industry needs a robust system that helps in sticking to guidelines and compliance regulations.

Although these standards are not directly connected to the service itself, these requirements are regarded as the gold standard for top-notch healthcare. Operations in the healthcare industry entail sensitive encounters with clients, time-consuming, repetitive paperwork, and routine activities that do not require specialist knowledge. 

RPA may help you with all kinds of healthcare operations, from front-office operations to maintenance operations to interactions with patients and payment services. Routine admin work like scanning paper documents, converting photographed image files to text files, and extracting data from documents and transferring it to EHR file structures, can be easily and effectively done using RPA. The different ways in which RPA takes care of healthcare functions include –

  • Resource- and time-intensive manual healthcare workflows by optimizing and streamlining them
  • Improve the efficiency of operations like triage by automating routine actions 
  • Enable businesses to successfully implement measures that enhance data accuracy, operations, and documentation in clinical settings and elsewhere
  • Enhance the productivity of healthcare personnel by automating jobs that do not normally require human intelligence or cognition
  • Improve patient experience by providing more consistent treatment with the help of accurate judgments, lower costs, and deeper insights

Healthcare automation is a subsection of automation that focuses on boosting the automation of critical healthcare procedures that are pertinent to the environment of the hospital. Healthcare organizations can leverage technology to simplify and complete certain tasks, especially the ones that are repetitive, labor- and data-intensive. 

Challenges in Automating Healthcare Process

The decision to automate healthcare should be taken by weighing the pros and cons of healthcare automation. There are several advantages of automation in healthcare, from improved productivity to improved compliance to better patient care. We have dealt in detail with how automation can help healthcare organizations and patients.

We will now look into some of the challenges faced by implementing healthcare automation. 

  • Resource constraints – Implementing automation requires a fair amount of capital for the initial infrastructure setup, purchase of software, and training of the staff to use the new system. 
  • Choice of workflows – Choosing the healthcare workflow that should be automated can be a challenging decision to make. 
  • Workflow disruptions – The transition to automation might cause delays and disrupt the usual flow of work. 
  • Lack of technical expertise – Healthcare staff may not have the expertise to operate automated systems. 
  • Treatment complications – AI systems can sometimes be wrong, which can cause life-threatening complications for the patients. 
  • Large dataset requirement – AI systems require large datasets to work on, the lack of which causes a decrease in the competency of the system. 
  • Job losses – Medical personnel may feel intimidated by automating healthcare systems, as they feel they might be replaced. 
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Why Cflow is the Right Workflow Automation Tool

Workflow automation and RPA are 2 of the most popular ways of automating healthcare workflows. Once the decision to automate has been taken, healthcare organizations must choose the automation solution that suits their business operations. As more and more processes are automated, healthcare professionals get more time to focus on their skilled work. 

Cflow is a no-code cloud BPM that automates workflows within minutes. The visual form builder in Cflow allows users without much technical knowledge to create healthcare workflows by simply dragging and dropping workflow elements. The rich feature set in Cflow makes it the ideal choice for medical automation.

Here is why Cflow is the best workflow automation tool for your healthcare organization – 

Visual workflow builder – Start creating workflows with the flowchart-based workflow builder that lets users create rules automatically and use visual elements to set any process in motion. 

SLAs and Escalations – SLAs can be set for specific job roles and tasks, and assign a timeline easily with Cflow. Automatically setting SLAs ensures that you never fall out of compliance.

Rules engine – Users can customize their workflows completely with the wizard-driven editor. 

Workflow integrations – Works as a standalone workflow management platform and also integrates with more than 1000 other apps.

Reports and analytics – the business activity monitor provides deep insights into cycle times, efficiencies, and bottlenecks, so users can stay in touch with the organization’s processes at all times. 

Key Takeaways

Healthcare automation leverages technology to streamline and optimize healthcare workflows for better healthcare outcomes. Cflow is the right choice for automating healthcare workflows. Features like the visual form builder, document manager, and rules engine, are some of the reasons Cflow is the best choice for healthcare automation. Our sales team is all ears to know the unique requirements of your organization so we can set up workflows that take care of pivotal healthcare functions.

To explore the powerful features that Cflow brings to healthcare, all you need to do is sign up for the free trial.

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