The United States spends more money on healthcare than any other country in the world. That spending is projected to increase, creating alarming and unsustainable economic implications for the future. Coupled with skyrocketing costs, error-prone processes and a drastic labor shortage, we are facing a critical need for change and a reimagined approach for not only reducing costs but improving outcomes. Implementing automated healthcare processes to improve the way we deliver and manage care is not yet fully realized but it represents a promising and vital opportunity for changing the trajectory. Let’s take a closer look at how automation can impact some of healthcare’s biggest challenges.
- IMPROVING PATIENT SATISFACTION
In addition to improving the quality of care, automation can also improve patient satisfaction. Patients today expect a seamless and personalized experience when interacting with healthcare providers. HCAHPS and other tools for measuring patient satisfaction provide essential feedback to providers to remain competitive in a consumer driven healthcare market. Top causes of patient dissatisfaction include:
- Difficulty scheduling appointments
- Long wait times
- Accessing personal health information
- Not feeling heard when sharing health information
- Lack of upfront, transparent communication about costs.
Automation can remedy many of the major sources of client dissatisfaction by reducing delays to access treatment, enabling alternative treatment modalities like telehealth, automating patient scheduling and reminders and organizing and processing data in electronic health records to reduce staff research time. Providers can connect with patients with greater speed, efficiency and personalization.
- ENABLING STAFF TO PRIORITIZE PATIENT CARE
McKinsey’s multi-part study “The Gathering Storm: The Uncertain Future of US Healthcare” illuminated some striking statistics about the pending labor crisis in healthcare.
The United States is projected to face a shortage of more than 200,000 registered nurses and more than 50,000 physicians in the next three years. In addition to fueling persistent inflation, this clinical staff shortage is likely to create challenges in healthcare access and potentially exacerbate health inequities.
-McKinsey & Company, September, 2022
The Covid 19 pandemic illustrated the risks of increasing the burdens on our already over strained healthcare providers. Automation is no longer a technological novelty but an imperative to mitigate dramatic current and projected future labor shortages. Eliminating mundane, routine and repetitive tasks from workloads will ensure healthcare professionals can spend as much time as possible providing the in-person care that is critical to healing and wellness outcomes.
As the amount of data we gather increases, managing that data and synthesizing it quickly and accurately becomes a critical challenge. Automation can assist clinicians with extrapolating and summarizing information efficiently and accurately to inform decision making and treatment direction without missing key factors that lead to errors. To maximize the value of the data we have collected, we need the right tools to make it readily applicable for doctors and clinicians.
- REDUCING OR ELIMINATING ERRORS
Medical errors, either through actions not taken or wrong actions taken, result in a significant number of patient deaths annually. In addition to the tragic human toll, these errors create costs in excess of $17 billion annually.
Automated healthcare processes can significantly reduce or even entirely eliminate errors in many aspects of patient care including medication management, patient monitoring and aggregating medical records to provide a complete and accurate picture of a patient’s history. Using automation tools to organize and analyze electronic health records, improve accuracy and coordination of ordered tests and treatments and speed up lab results can reduce delays in diagnostics – especially critical in life-threatening emergencies. Automation can also enhance the consistency of follow up care to reduce reoccurrence and impact patient engagement and self-service.
- PROTECTING PRIVACY
According to The HIPAA Journal, fines and settlements for violations related to data breeches have steadily increased since 2008. In 2022, a record high 222 penalties were imposed against healthcare providers for mishandling or failing to safeguard electronic personal health information. Hacking is a primary source of data breeches but there is also a significant risk of unauthorized access or disclosure of information by internal staff.
Protecting the privacy of patient data while maintaining access for authorized clinicians and providers is a critical balance. Automation can be a valuable tool in safeguarding and managing HIPAA compliance by creating standardized role-based access to ensure only the appropriate, approved people have access to patient information. It’s also very valuable in creating activity and audit logs that record every action, increase transparency and ensure compliance.
- CUTTING ADMINISTRATIVE COSTS
A recent article in Becker’s Hospital CFO Report references the Council for Affordable Quality Healthcare’s 10th annual index report findings that the U.S. healthcare system spent $60 billion on nine common administrative tasks in 2022:
- Eligibility and benefit verification
- Prior authorization
- Claim submission
- Coordination of benefits
- Claim status inquiry
- Claim payment
- Remittance advice
All nine tasks can be substantially or completely automated. The CAQH report goes on to state the industry can save nearly $25 billion by switching to fully electronic transactions.
Is healthcare of the future entirely automated? Certainly not. Decades of research has taught us there is no substitution for human contact and compassion. This will always be the cornerstone of any healthcare system. Technology tools will work alongside healthcare providers to enable data-driven decision making. The goal is not to replace doctors and nurses, but to equip them with powerful tools to accurately diagnose, engage patients, eliminate mistakes and enable health to be more sustainable and accessible for all.
Back To Business I.T. can help your organization implement automated healthcare processes that are practical, scalable and profitable. Check out our latest eBook on automation, or read frequently asked questions about it here.