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How Automation Can Transform Healthcare Delivery – HIStalk

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How Automation Can Transform Healthcare Delivery
By Lisa Weber, MSHA, MEA

Lisa Weber is director in industry solutions practice at UiPath of New York, NY.

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A recent survey found that 90% of clinicians agreed that quality measures, including patient satisfaction, have driven change in healthcare in the last decade. The desire for better quality of care and patient experience is clear, but many healthcare organizations struggle with where to start. Consider automation.

One of the major barriers to providing the best care is the crushing amount of tedious, administrative work tasked to clinical and administrative healthcare workers. It is hard to think about a doctor’s office without hearing the constant click of a computer keyboard by every type of healthcare worker. Whether it is updating patient records, scheduling follow-up appointments, or simply taking notes, it can seem like everyone is spending more time looking at a screen than looking at the patient, which can be frustrating for both the patient and staff.

Integrating automation tools, such as software robots, can help healthcare organizations improve inefficiencies, alleviate healthcare provider workloads, and transform healthcare delivery by reclaiming time for patient engagement. The saved time ultimately leads to better, more personalized patient care. Doctors, nurses, and supporting staff would rather devote more time to patients and less to navigating and maintaining online records.

Software robots—think of them as digital assistants—can take over day-to-day tasks that involve accessing, entering, and updating systems and processes just as a human would. Much of the routine and repetitive work that medical professionals dread doing – such as data entry, revising records, checking records for compliance, and scheduling appointments – are perfectly suited tasks for digital assistants. They not only give healthcare workers ample time back in their day, but also boost productivity and workplace satisfaction, accuracy of data, and improved patient experiences.

Specific capabilities of digital assistants for the medical field include completing tasks like:

  • Preparing charts ensuring that all the relevant clinical data (from multiple sources, including other physicians) is available and current.
  • Making sure all paperwork is completed, signed, and up to date.
  • Verifying insurance coverage and collecting any due amounts.
  • Scheduling follow-up appointments, labs, and other testing.
  • Initiating prior authorizations and physician referrals.

During the height of the pandemic, a hospital’s infection control department was struggling to keep up with the hundreds of people coming in every day for COVID-19 testing. As fast diagnosis and response are crucial in preventing the spread of COVID-19, nurses at the hospital needed digital assistance to not only streamline testing, but also to take the pressure off already overworked staff. Using software robots, COVID-19 test result information was processed in a fraction of the time, disseminating patient results in minutes. Overall, the hospital saved three hours a day by using automation to distribute COVID-19 test results.

Utilizing digital assistants significantly reduces the administrative workload of healthcare providers, meaning they have more time for patient engagement and other tasks that make better use of their talent and expertise. These positive effects start to snowball as less time on tedious administrative work means less burnout and turnover, and greater employee satisfaction and productivity. And all these organizational benefits gained from digital assistants in turn improve the quality of care and the patient experience.

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