Why Healthcare is Embracing Automation Post-Pandemic
As healthcare organizations were already struggling to meet changing consumer expectations due to aging infrastructures and complex IT systems, the pandemic added to those challenges by transforming the working environment and increasing demand for digital services and solutions. Now, healthcare organizations can benefit by embracing automation supported by intelligent platforms, such as robotic process automation (RPA) and artificial intelligence (AI). This offers opportunities to elevate the customer experience and improve morale amongst personnel, while streamlining operational costs, processes and communications to make healthcare delivery more efficient and beneficial for all involved.
Elevating the CX for Patients
The goal of introducing automation into healthcare is not to completely remove the human element, but rather to streamline patient interactions, such as ordering prescriptions, paying medical bills, and accessing medical records. At the same time, virtual agents and chatbots can more efficiently handle basic queries, while call forwarding solutions can connect patients with more complex issues directly based on the person’s need. Additionally, scheduling and telehealth tools can be used to book and secure appointments more quickly and easily, helping to reduce wait times and expedite processes to increase dedicated, value-based care come appointment time.
Whenever administrative tasks can be automated, nurses and physicians have that time back in their day to spend on patient interactions – which is one thing that technology is never going to supplant. Communication between patient and doctor is essential to effective treatment. When each has access to more AI-powered telehealth options, a lot of the pre- and post- visit work can be taken care of swiftly. Patients can communicate directly with their doctors after visits to ask follow-up questions, receive next steps or to check in on referrals and hear back within hours. In other words: automated processes mean that patients can enjoy hassle-free, worthwhile care.
Improving Staff Morale and Productivity
During the pandemic, healthcare workers have been increasingly overworked and understaffed. Organizations have been feeling that strain on their workers and have struggled to manage budgets while meeting the needs of their staff. By implementing healthcare automation with RPA, organizations can optimize their most expensive—and most important—resource: people.
Mundane workflows are put on autopilot as RPA bots are established to mimic the tasks employees typically do manually—only faster and more accurately. Further, chatbots can reduce the burden on personnel by triaging customer queries between in-house staff and automated bots and prioritize based on urgency and severity. By delegating such tasks to automation, employees can spend more time on what they truly enjoy—patient care—instead of paperwork and data entry, which in turn, can help to increase retention and reduce burnout and fatigue.
Automated processes can even make a tangible difference in the practice of medicine, through alerts that keep staff up to date on patients’ overall health or treatment plans; the ability to share data instantaneously with colleagues; and the ability to streamline research processes, leading to faster, accurate diagnoses and new medical insights. Working together with AI and machine learning-powered tools is unlocking a whole new frontier for medical professionals, relieving them of the burdens of their jobs and paving the way for new developments.
Reducing Costs and Improving Revenue
Everything that makes the day-to-day lives of healthcare professionals better is also good for the organizations they work for. Augmenting healthcare services can lead to greater accuracy, consistency, compliance, and risk management — all leading to reduced costs and improved revenues. By eliminating rote tasks, and minimizing costly human errors, organizations can maximize time with patients and streamline revenue cycle management (RCM). It may not necessarily lower an organization’s overall headcount, but it enables staff to focus on revenue-generating tasks rather than administrative ones.
It all comes down to consistency, efficiency and communication. Doctors, hospitals, clinics and other organizations all have the same goals: They want to provide world class experiences for patients; They want staff members to be focused and effective; And they want it done efficiently and accurately. When tasks are dependent on understaffed departments, that can be hard to achieve. It can lead to increased overhead, long wait times, and costly human-error mistakes that result in more time and resources getting devoted to resolving them.
Automating simple tasks reduces time and resources and eliminates many of the mistakes that humans can make. By fostering an environment where staff are supported and given the freedom to focus on the aspects of their jobs that they care about most, they will be happier and more likely to stay at those positions longer. At the same time, patients that have a good experience with their physicians, and the front office, will feel as though they are being truly taken care of, increasing their trust and loyalty.
The pandemic revealed a lot about where the healthcare industry needs help – but it also saw a lot of organizations stepping up to fill the gaps with automated solutions that have and continue to make huge improvements.