The typical healthcare facility is a busy place, with patients coming and going all day…
If someone had to name technologies that have significantly impacted the healthcare industry, they would probably think of things like X-rays or robotic surgery. What they might not realize, though, is that automation in healthcare is revolutionizing the way medical professionals provide their patients with good quality care and the best experience.
What is automation in healthcare? Healthcare automation uses technology and software to replace traditional human tasks in the industry, meant to enhance efficiency, accuracy, and overall quality. It covers a broad range of functions, but today we will be covering patient communication, engagement, and streamlined front-desk processes. These are some of the key benefits of automation in healthcare.
A lot of repetitive tasks in the healthcare industry are now automated, such as sending appointment reminders or processing patient data. When done manually, the chances of human error are much higher; it’s difficult to retain focus and accuracy for such monotonous tasks. When done through an automated system, they’re completed with much greater accuracy.
Higher patient satisfaction
According to a survey by research firm Survata, 41% of patients said they’d consider finding a new healthcare provider if their current one gave them a poor digital experience. Automation in healthcare can transform each patient’s experience, making it easier for them to schedule and manage appointments, check in virtually, and schedule follow-ups.
Maintaining an appointment calendar manually can be a time-consuming task, and often results in conflicting appointments or gaps in the schedule. However, automated appointment scheduling software makes it easier for both healthcare providers and their patients to schedule and manage appointments. This can help reduce staff burnout, especially among administrative staff.
Better access to data
It’s vital for healthcare professionals to have access to reliable, up-to-date patient data. This lets them provide more personalized care that’s based on patients’ medical history, rather than having to discover information for themselves that another doctor or department may have already uncovered.
Faster adaptation to change
Staff schedules are often set based on historical patterns; for example, flu season usually brings a spike in appointments. However, healthcare facilities like emergency rooms may experience sudden random upticks in patient volume; when this happens, automation can help facilities quickly adjust their staffing levels.
Under HIPAA regulations, healthcare organizations must preserve the privacy of each patient’s medical data. These regulations are normally followed by healthcare facilities, but patient data is more secure with facilities that use automation. Without automation, each patient’s file could be accessed by multiple people in different departments – when they’re sending an appointment reminder, a follow-up message, a bill, and so on. With automation, all of these communications and more would still be sent based on the patient’s records, but those records wouldn’t be repeatedly viewed and potentially made vulnerable.
This is one of the primary reasons why healthcare organizations implement automation, as it can significantly reduce costs. The savings are mainly reflected in lower personnel costs, as automation takes over countless hours’ worth of manual tasks. This results in fewer errors, less overtime, and improved efficiency overall.
Every healthcare facility must comply with regulations, including HIPAA (which protects personal medical data). When handling patient data, it’s important that it’s securely encrypted, and only viewed or shared when necessary. Automation can tighten up security around patient data, reduce the need for human handling or viewing, and even track activity logs for each digital file.
What are the types of automation in healthcare?
Automation in healthcare can be categorized in many different ways, but the simplest way is to consider who it benefits. In many cases, an automation task either provides an advantage to healthcare providers, or to their patients. There’s definitely some overlap between the two categories, such as AI’s ability to detect diseases early. However, many automated processes are designed to benefit either healthcare professionals or patients.
Type 1 – Automation for healthcare providers
This type of automation is used for a wide variety of tasks, from managing insurance claims, billing, appointment scheduling/rescheduling, and appointment reminders to patient registration. These are some of the most common automation features that benefit healthcare professionals.
Type 2 – Automation for patients
The second type of automation in healthcare is designed to make the patient experience as easy and convenient as possible. For example, a patient engagement solution could include automated reminders for upcoming appointments, or various customer service features. These are some of the most popular automation features that benefit patients.
Use Cases| Healthcare Automation:
Without automation, patient registration would have to be done manually (either in person or over the phone). With automation, it can be completed by the patient digitally. Their information is automatically and securely stored, where it can be accessed as needed by healthcare professionals. Not only does this save time for medical staff, but it’s also much more convenient for patients.
Under normal circumstances, someone would be able to simply make an appointment and show up when they planned to. However, this isn’t always what happens. Sometimes patients forget that they had an appointment, or they have to cancel or reschedule at the last minute. If they had access to automated appointment management through the channel of their choice, they could schedule, reschedule, or cancel appointments quickly and easily via, text, Chatbot, or Voice. This feature is also helpful for appointment reminders, whether they’re for upcoming appointments or recommended routine checkups. The healthcare facility can program patient reminders to be automatically sent out, customizing the frequency and messaging that each patient receives.
Increasing numbers of healthcare organizations are offering virtual check-ins for patients. This lets them complete intake forms, copays, and insurance verifications before they arrive. They can also handle all billing information digitally, which speeds up the payment process. This is not only efficient for the patient but the health system, alliviating the workload of staff. Some platforms even automatically fill check-in forms with patient data from previous visits, minimizing the time it takes to virtually check-in.
This is a crucial aspect of patient satisfaction since inadequate customer service can make a healthcare organization seem uncaring or poorly managed. Ideally, patients should have multiple ways of getting in touch with their healthcare providers; this could include text, phone, or AI chat. Automated customer service helps patients stay connected with healthcare providers, which can result in improved satisfaction as well as better health outcomes.
FAQs about automation in healthcare
Many people have come across automation in healthcare, but they may not be familiar with the concept as a whole. Here are a couple of questions that people usually ask after learning more about it.
Is automation in healthcare difficult to set up?
The ease of setting up automation in healthcare depends on its intended use. For instance, implementing a basic automated customer service platform that integrates with the health system’s EHR is relatively straightforward. Regardless of the complexity, any level of healthcare automation is expected to be cost-effective over time, saving both time and money. Moreover, it contributes to high patient satisfaction levels and may even enhance patient retention.
How do patients benefit from AI in healthcare?
Many technologies contribute to automation in healthcare, and among them, artificial intelligence (AI) stands out as one of the most powerful. This intricate technology, known for transforming various fields such as driverless cars and cybersecurity, has also significantly impacted the healthcare industry.
AI is purpose-built to enhance patient care and health system efficiency by providing easy access to information and resources, reducing the workload of hospital staff through handling routine interactions, and improving overall patient satisfaction and experience.
Does AI in healthcare keep patient data safe?
As with many unfamiliar technologies, some people have a hard time trusting AI. This can be especially true when it comes to personal medical data, which is protected by HIPAA regulations. It’s valid to be concerned about the safety of patient data, but it should also be noted that AI doesn’t represent a threat to patient privacy. Every AI algorithm is carefully programmed to fulfill specific functions, and in the healthcare industry, that includes rigorously protecting patient data.